Trying to keep fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle while living in a camper van can be challenging. Since we’re always traveling from one new environment to another, keeping a strict workout routing is difficult.
After all, you may not always be conveniently parked next to a gym with weight training and cardio facilities. And going for a jog after a long day in a National Park doesn’t seem reasonable.
Therefore, while living the van life, you’ll need to come up with a more effective solution to stay fit and healthy.
So in this post, we share 8 tips that we use to help keep our bodies fit and healthy during van life. This includes advice for both physical activity and consumption.
So if you’re ready, let’s get to it!
1. “walking is man's best medicine”
Being able to drive wherever you want with your tiny home is indeed liberating feeling. However, you will more likely sitting all day and driving more than your body wish to.
Walking is the easiest exercise you can do everyday, and gives you countless benefits to maintain healthy body.
Choose walking over driving
If it is less than 30 minutes by walking distance, try go to the destination on foot. If you park in the Walmart for a night, maybe walk every aisles inside and enjoy window shopping, or take stairs instead of elevators.
You don’t even have to go on actual hike to gain walking steps, all you have to do is to just remind yourself to walk more than just drive for 5 minutes.
Aim For 10,000 steps a day
Using step count app is a great way to motivate yourself. You will be surprised how many step you have by end of the day, or you will be shocked how little steps you have. Reward yourself after you complete 10,000 steps a day with your favorite meal!
2. Cook More Than Eating Out
It sounds like boring, simple solution, but unless you are eating instant ramen everyday(wouldn’t recommend doing that) home cooking food is always better for your health than eating out.
Pack your own lunch and snack for a driving day
Often times highway restaurant has very limited healthy meal options. If you have a long driving day, pack your own healthy lunch and snack. Not only it’s better for your health, it also saves your money and time.
Check Out Simple One Dish Recipes
Cooking takes a lot of time especially in a camper van due to luck of counter spaces, and resources like water or certain cooking appliances you used to own at home.
Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated, nor there has to be multiple dishes on the table. There are tons of recipes online that allows you to cook super fast and easy one plate healthy meal, which are easily manageable in simple kitchen setting in a camper van.
Cook your own pre-made food
When you are not on the move and camping at same place for few days, it is always smart idea to prepare your own pre-made food; cook large amount of food to eat them for several days.
In this way you don’t have to prepare the food from scratch every day, even the day you don’t really feel like cooking, and avoid you from going for pizza late at night.
3. Avoid Overeating
You are more likely to burn more physical and mental energy in exploring new places, so undeniably you get more hungry than when you just going back and forth between your office and home.
The biggest mistake people make is to wait for meal time even though you are already hungry. It causes fast and over eating in actual meal, which is not ideal for your digestion system.
Make sure to always keep stocks of healthy snacks ( granola bars, fruits or mix nuts etc.), and snack often and don’t wait till you are starving. Keeping your own healthy snack is also great idea for a long driving day, since there are limited healthy meal options on the roadside or highway.
In many cases, people tend to order a dish just for yourself, the portion is often too much for one person. Eating too much until your stomach hurts, is obviously not a good sign.
What you can do instead, is to share the dishes. For example, you can order the main dish and your partner can order a salad or appetizer instead of ordering two main dishes, or you can order multiple appertizers instead of ordering main dishes.
Having meals in tapas style allows you to taste multiple dishes in small quantities, which is much more enjoyable and easier for your stomach.
In Japan, we have a saying for eating healthy is “keep 80% full”, which means you should not eat until you feel disgustingly full. Don’t be afraid of pack the leftover to go, eating leftover pizza next day is also a joyful experience.
4. Drink More Water
Did you know we should all be drinking roughly 12-16 cups (3-4 liters) of water per day?
It’s easier said than done, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to stay hydrated. It’s better for your body, improves your skin, and keeps you positive.
Set An Alarm or reminder
It’s really hard to just remind yourself and partner to “drink more water”. Setting alarm or reminder every hours to drink a glass is much easier solution.
Don't depend on buying water
In van life, buying plastic water is not the smartest solution to get potable water. Having water filter and your own bottle is much more cost effective and produces less waste.
Travel Berkey water filter is compact size and packs away into a small, portable pouch which is great for van life or back packing trip. It removes more than 99% bacterias and virus that you can filter from almost any water resources.
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5. Give Yourself A challenge
You can give yourself a simple workout challenge; push ups and squats a 100 times a day for example, is very easy and effective, and you don’t need any equipment or lay down on the dirty floor.
You can set an alarm every 2 hours to do 10, or 20 times depend on your strength level, as long as total is 100 times a day. You will be surprised how much stronger you become after a month if you are able to keep this simple habit every day.
6. Get Good Quality Sleep
Do A Bed Time Stretch
High quality sleep is one of the most important factor for healthy body and mind, keeping a habit of doing stretches before going to bed is a great way to makes your body deeply relaxed and gives you a better sleep.
Search “bed time stretch”, you will find numerous contents on YouTube.
Refrain From Caffein 4 Hours Before Sleep
Caffein does some good for your body but not so great for your sleep. Try avoid drinking caffeinated coffee or tea 4-5 hours before going to bed. Also, don’t forget to keep a glass of water by side when you have one since caffein tends to make you dehydrate more.
Avoid scrolling on smartphone on the bed
Although it is the hard to stop the addiction of looking at your smartphone today in this world, it’s best to avoid scrolling on the social media before you sleep. Exposure to blue right affect you to fall asleep smoothly and also affect you from staying asleep during the night.
7. Visit Community Center & Recreational Facilities
If you’re weary about paying for a monthly gym membership, you can always look out for community centers and recreational facilities when you arrive in a city or town.
It’s a fun way to spend one day in the city, the benefit of these rec centers is that they also provide a much wider range of activities, such as swimming, basketball, badminton, and even pickleball! And being able to access to hot shower after sweating is a bonus.
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8. Got A Fluffy Friend? Bring Them With You!
If you have a dog, or even a cat, at home, bring them along for your van life journey! Camper van is the best way to travel with a pet.
Not only they make you stay physically active by walking and playing with you, they will make you smile in shine or rains, mentally happy and stable.
Bonus: Pet’s are also fantastic conversation starters and help you befriend campsite neighbors.
One of the beauties of van life is that you have access to a diverse range of indoor and outdoor activities to help keep your body fit and healthy. Going to a gym isn’t your only option.
Whichever activity(ies) you do choose to keep fit though, it’s important to keep at it for at least a short while so that your body can develop a routine and get accustomed to it.
The best way to stay fit and healthy while traveling in a camper van (or RV) is to enjoy the activity itself.