The Frugal Traveler: Staying Fit On The Road

Two days of overindulgence in Tel Aviv had our buttons straining. Fortunately, a day trip on foot to the ancient nearby town of Jaffa provided the necessary physical activity. We packed fruit and water and followed the coast, using beach sand for extra resistance. Our day of hiking concluded with a stop at the Yemeni food market, where we purchased healthy food to pack lunches for a bus ride to Jerusalem.

You can stay fit on the road, without shrinking your wallet. Here's how:

Compact equipment: Celebrity fitness trainer Kathy Kaehler recommends compact fitness equipment for those who want to work out on the road and travel light. "Power bands are a versatile piece of exercise equipment requiring minimal luggage space," Kaehler says. She also recommends a deck of playing cards, which can be used for entertainment and exercise. With a straight back, stand with your feet apart and do squats, dealing one card at a time to the floor and rising up again. Next, perform a second set of squats, while picking up one card at a time.

Amenities: Use hotel fitness centers, which typically include stationary bikes, treadmills and weights. If you've packed a multipurpose set of leggings and a T-shirt as your lounge outfit, you'll only need athletic shoes to trot down the hall for a workout that won't cost precious luggage space. The hotel pool is an aquatic gym. With only a swimsuit and a hotel towel, you can swim laps or do low-impact water aerobics workout. Don't forget traditional workouts such as walking and biking, which enable travelers to combine exercising and sightseeing.

Short-term membership: Many health club chains offer trial memberships, short-term guest passes or day-rates that are ideal for travelers. Membership at your local club may entitle you to free or discounted entry into gym locations in other markets. Check the regional borders of your gym membership before you travel.

Civic duty: Public spaces can provide travelers with free access to fitness classes. In China, for example, we found a free Tai-Chi class conducted every morning in a park. In Miami Beach, yoga studios, day spas and community groups periodically offer free or low-cost "yoga on the beach" classes. Community centers, shopping malls, libraries, hotels, hospitals and state parks also offer assorted fitness workouts for small fees or no-cost. Review community calendars for "special events and activities."