Need a push to achieve your resolution to finally get in shape? Book a trip that will push you to your physical limits and motivate you to get fit so you make the most of it. I’ve found 10 awe-inspiring trips that will be worth all the sweat and preparation. Think of them as a much more satisfying reward than that piece of cake.
Walk the Cotswolds
A fitness-inspiring trip doesn’t have to be extreme–imagine a relaxing walk through the rolling green hills of the English countryside. You’ll still want to be in shape, but you won’t have to sleep in a tent. Many walking tours of the Cotswolds involve six to 12 miles of easy-to-moderate terrain broken up by stops in quaint pubs and nights in plush boutique hotels. (No giant backpacks required either–they’ll transfer your luggage for you.)
Swim with Whale Sharks in Ningaloo, Australia
A trip can be motivation to pick up a new exercise or develop muscles you might not normally use. I work out regularly, but I very rarely swim. Having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with the whale sharks in Ningaloo, Australia, inspired me to focus on getting in swimming shape (which is different than running shape). Swimming is a great, low-impact workout, so if you need motivation, book a similar trip with Ningaloo Whaleshark Swim. Trust me, you’re going to want to be able to keep up with the sharks.
Run the Great Wall of China
Ever wanted to look at someone bragging about their marathon time and one-up them by saying, “Yeah, but did you run it on the Great Wall of China?” Me neither, but if you are that kind of person, you can sign up for the most extreme tour on our list: running a marathon on the Great Wall of China with Intrepid Travel. Too crazy for you? Half-marathon or 10K options are also available.
Trek to Machu Picchu and Choquequirao
Managing Editor Josh Roberts was inspired to get in shape for a bucket-list trip to Peru. He recalls, “I’ve always been drawn to the undiscovered and less-explored places around the world, but not necessarily at the expense of missing the great wonders, either. G Adventures’ Choquequirao trek provided me a best-of-both worlds opportunity to take in both Machu Picchu and the lesser-known (and far remote) Inca city of Choquequirao. It required a week of trekking and camping in the mountains at high elevation to get there, and that required months of cardio at the gym to get in shape for it. But in the end, it was the ultimate worth-the-effort adventure.”
Climb Table Mountain, South Africa
You’re going to want to hit the Stairmaster for this one. Although climbing one of the world’s most famous mountains is a very attainable goal (it can be done in a few hours, no oxygen tank required), it still feels like you’re summiting via an endless staircase. The best part—it’s free (no guide needed) and so is training for it (assuming you have access to stairs).
If possible, time your climb for when the cable car is closed, which happens fairly often due to high winds at the summit. The journey up won’t be unbearable, and you’ll be rewarded with zero crowds at the top, making the hike all the more rewarding.
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Ski the Swiss Alps
Get those quads in shape—the Swiss Alps are calling your name. See the mountains in all their winter glory by conquering them on skis. Want to experience the snow in serene silence? A ski touring adventure from Viator takes you away from the busy, groomed slopes and into the wilderness. Stamina is definitely required, as you’ll be hiking on touring skis.
Cycle Central America
All those long hours you’ll put in at the gym, cycling on a stationary bike to nowhere, will be worth it when you catch your first glimpse of Costa Rica’s magnificent Arenal Volcano over your handlebars. An epic 16-day biking trip from Intrepid Travel will take you from Nicaragua to Panama with stops in Costa Rica in between (and of course some transfers—16 days isn’t quite enough time to bike across three countries and still see some sights, even if you’re Lance Armstrong).
Hike the Grand Canyon
Seeing the Grand Canyon should be on every American’s bucket list. Go beyond gazing at this natural wonder from the rim—you can actually explore it top to bottom. G Adventures’ Grand Canyon trip involves hiking several miles down the North Rim and then up to the South Rim. You’ll get two nights’ at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon so you can recover in between the descent and ascent.
Most tours to Cuba focus on a more urban environment—but why not opt for a kayak over a car and see a totally different side of the country? Fire up the rowing machine and dream about kayaking through Cuba’s national parks. Then live it on a tour with G Adventures and kayak in the Bay of Pigs, the wetlands of Zapata National Park, and on the river in Trinidad.
An Urban Adventure
Hiking, biking, running, and other super-active trips aren’t the only ones worth getting in shape for. Even if you’ve got something more urban planned, hitting the gym ahead of time can really help. Think of how sore and tired you can get after a long day of walking around a city. Up your workout regime a few months in advance and see how much better you feel on your next journey.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 8 Great Vacations That Will Help with Your Fitness Goals
- How to Stay Healthy While Traveling
- 7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Booking an Adventure Trip
Caroline Morse loves active vacations. Follow her on Instagram TravelWithCaroline and on Twitter @CarolineMorse1 for photos from around the world.
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