How to Reach Your Step Goals on Vacation

A regular walking routine can be tough to start—and even harder to maintain.  We all have a whole bunch of other things on our to-do list—from work responsibilities to family activities.  If you manage to keep up a daily (or even weekly) walking routine, you’re an absolute rock star—one who’s committed to your health and wellbeing. 

But then…along comes a family vacation.

Suddenly, all of your regular routines go right out the window.  Your regular walking time is replaced with family activities.  Your regular walking trails are most likely hundreds of miles away.  Your morning smoothie is replaced with the breakfast buffet (and who wants fruit and yogurt when there’s a waffle maker right there??) And, in the midst of all of the chaos and the family fun, your daily walk might be the first casualty of your family vacation time.  And unless you’re taking the family to Disney for the week, it can be tricky to fit in your daily steps—but it’s not impossible.  It just takes a little bit of planning.

So before you pack your bags and head on your family’s next big adventure, take some time to plan some walking time, too!  Try some of these sneaky (and sometimes downright blatant) ways to get your steps while vacationing with the family.

Get Out and Explore!

After you’ve unloaded your bags and settled into your new home away from home, take some time to check the place out and explore your surroundings.  If you’re staying in a hotel, venture out to find the pool, the gym, the breakfast room, and maybe even the shops and restaurants on the other side of the parking lot.  If you’re renting a condo, explore the property in search of the common areas.  Or, if you’ll be staying in a house, get out and explore the neighborhood.  It’s fun and exciting to be in a new place, and everyone will be excited to get out and check it all out.

Walk Down the Beach

If you’re spending your vacation at the beach, be sure to get up for a stroll down the shore.  Not only is a good way to break up the day and remind yourself to apply some more sunscreen, but it’s also a great way to get in those steps!  Enjoy the feeling of the sand and the surf and the sun.  Take the kids to collect shells or rocks.  And see how far you can walk down the beach.  In the process, you’ll get a little bit of exercise, and you’ll give yourself an extra challenge because you’ll be walking through the sand instead of on a flat, paved surface.

Walk in the Pool

Staying at a place with a pool?  While the kids go for a swim—and show you all of their favorite new swimming tricks—get in the pool with them and walk!  It’s a great way to get a solid workout—because you’ll have to work your muscles a little harder to move through the water—and the kids will love that you’re in the water with them.

Make a Plan

When we go on vacation, I tend to be pretty sneaky about planning activities that involve walking.  I’m always looking for great places to hike or parks to explore or attractions to visit.  On our last vacation to the shore, we visited the local zoo, went mini-golfing (several times—to check out the different courses), and went on a three-mile walk through the state park in search of gators (which we never actually saw—though we did see an armadillo, so we took it as a partial win).  You can also visit a hands-on science museum, go on a walking tour of the city, or take a hike! Not only will you be seeing the sights, but you’ll be tricking your family into getting some exercise, too.

Visit the Hotel Gym

From my own experience, I’ve found that the hotel or condo community’s workout rooms are often pretty empty—especially during the day.  If you’re an early riser, check it out before the kids are up—though, if you’re staying in a hotel with a lot of business travelers, morning hours might get busy.  Or visit at the end of the day, when the kids are winding down or in bed.  (And be sure to wander by and check out the gym’s hours when you’re on your exploratory stroll at the beginning of your vacation.)

Go Shopping!

If you’re visiting a place with a downtown district, a boardwalk, or any kind of touristy area, be sure to check it out and browse the shops for souvenirs!  A souvenir shopping excursion obviously won’t make for a great workout—because the crowded shops and sidewalks will make it more of a leisurely stroll, with plenty of stops when your kids find something they want you to see (and buy for them).  But steps are steps—and when you’re on a family vacation, you need all the help you can get!  And that’ll make you feel a little less guilty about ordering the extra margarita and large queso with dinner—and you might just find some cute souvenirs to take home while you’re at it.

Go on a Photo Excursion

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a separate activity—maybe just a way to motivate yourself and your kids to get out and get moving.  When you head out to a park or a tourist area or the beach, challenge your kids to find the coolest pictures to take.  It’ll get everyone up and wandering and looking for hidden gems—and it’ll distract them from the fact that they’re getting some exercise, too.  The last time I challenged my daughter to find fun pictures, we ended up with pictures of plants, hotels as seen through the trees, and my kid doing silly poses.  It made the adventure fun for her—and we got some interesting vacation pictures out of the deal, too! 

When you’re on vacation with the family, it can be so easy to put your walking routines on hold and spend the week sitting in a chair while the kids swim in the pool or build sandcastles or fight over that really cool shell.  But with a little bit of planning (and perhaps a little trickery), you’ll be able to get those steps with the family and have fun doing it!

What are your favorite ways to get in your steps while on vacation?


Kristin has been hitting the trail (or the treadmill) for a walk almost every day for the past several years, and she recently completed her first half marathon. She loves sunny fall days, cushy walking shoes, and coconut caramel iced coffee from Dunkin.

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