For most of my life, I've been of the staunch belief that vacation should also serve as a vacation from the gym. Then, my general outlook on fitness began to shift from this idea of should to want. I began questioning the workouts that felt boring and punishing and started moving in ways that I actually enjoyed. And suddenly, the idea of being active while traveling felt exciting: I wouldn't necessarily want to spend hours in the hotel gym, for example, but I'd definitely be down to wander around ancient cobblestone streets for hours. Or zip-line through the jungle. Or spend a weekend at a yoga retreat.
This sentiment definitely rang true on a recent trip to the stunning Thompson Playa del Carmen, a luxury resort in the heart of Mexico's Riviera Maya. Thanks to an emphasis on wellness offerings and the region's natural propensity for adventure, the stay shaped up to be the perfect combination of action and relaxation. From rooftop yoga to mezcal tastings, there was never a dull moment—except when I needed a nap by the pool.
But it's hard to make the most of such a dynamic trip without the right items in your suitcase. Below, I'm sharing my go-to packing list if I intend on working out on vacation—from quick hotel room blitzes to underwater excursions.
A reusable water bottle
Bkr Glass Water Bottle ($48)
First things first: Stay hydrated. A reusable bottle is a sustainable (and chic!) way to make sure you're knocking back enough H2O. I always bring an empty one in my carry-on bag and fill it up after security.
An adventure-proof swimsuit
Outdoor Voices Glide Top ($55)
Available in sizes XS to XL
One of the highlights of my trip to Mexico was an excursion to Tulum with private tour company Living Dreams. We had the opportunity to snorkel in some of the local cenotes—underground caves with crystal-clear water that have been formed over thousands of years. While the swimsuit I wore didn't give me too much trouble, I do wish I had packed something a little more action-proof. Outdoor Voices' new swim collection is both extremely photogenic and designed for movement—a must-have for any water activities.
A sturdy (but stylish) pair of sneakers
Nike Air Huarache ($110)
When you're pressed for luggage space, it's ideal if your activewear does double duty. For example, crisp white tennis shoes are great for trekking around town (or hitting the hotel gym), but you can also pair them with a cute little dress for brunch.
Colorful activewearPhoto: Instagram/@victoriadawsonhoff
I'm not typically one to see my workouts as photo ops, but all bets are off when I'm on vacation. The Thompson Playa del Carmen offers rooftop yoga right next to the property's gorgeous pool—with impeccable views to boot—which meant that the backdrop was too pretty not to document. But beyond that, we tend to have more fun with our regular wardrobe on vacation—why not extend the same courtesy to your workout wear? These colorful seamless sets from JoyLab are comfortable and Instagram-friendly.
A jump rope
Garage Fit Jump Rope ($8)
If you do opt to bring workout gear with you, the trick is to choose items that take up minimal space but offer maximum efficiency. A jump rope is the perfect tool for a tough full-body workout, but you can still stow it in one of the side pockets of your suitcase. Start skipping in your hotel room, the property's gym, or find an open space outside. (Need some workout ideas? Say no more.)
Fit Simplify Resistance Bands ($11)
Resistance bands are another lightweight way to tone up, no matter where you're headed. I like to use them when I have a little downtime in my hotel room, often while I'm watching TV. They're endlessly versatile—just slide them around your legs to amp up your usual squats, lunges, or yoga poses.
Loungewear that's also a swimsuit coverup (and pajamas and a yoga onesie…)
JoyLab Cross Back Yoga Romper ($25)
Again, make your clothing multitask! I toted this JoyLab romper and wore it to the beach and to bed. I've also worn it at home for some deep yoga stretches, so there you go—a triple threat.
A travel laundry bag (for all your sweaty gear)
Unicité Water Repellant Travel Laundry Bag ($8)
A simple but oft overlooked tip: Keep your sweaty (and smelly) clothes tucked away from the clean garments in your suitcase with a small laundry bag. In my experience, you'll save yourself some laundry upon your return. This wallet-friendly option from Amazon is also water-repellant, making it a great choice for those not-quite-dry swimsuits. (There's nothing worse than opening up your suitcase when you arrive home to find that everything inside is slightly damp, am I right?)
Next up: Here's proof that vacation is good for your health.