How To Prepare For Every Type Of Active Holiday

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This feature is brought to you by Qantas, who are proud to play a part in bringing travellers together with the people they love from around Australia and across the globe.

So, you’ve decided to hike Machu Picchu. Or walk the Camino Trail. Or finally go skiing in Aspen. Hats off to you, my friend – active holidays are a great way to see another side of a country and tick something truly epic off your bucket list.

However, they require more preparation than your standard lie-on-the-beach-drinking-cocktails getaway. If you decide to channel Cheryl Strayed and set off to conquer the Pacific Crest Trail without ever having hiked a day in your life, you’re going to be in a world of pain.

But, with the right know-how and a little bit of training, you can get in shape and equipped to nail that big trip. Here’s what you need to know to get ready for every kind of active holiday.

Start Early


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The earlier you start getting ready for an active holiday, the better. Fitness model and expert Alexa Towersey recommends giving yourself a three-month headstart, especially if it’s been a while between gym sessions.

“You need at least six weeks for most strength and endurance-based activities, especially if you have no prior experience,” she says. “If you don’t have a great fitness foundation and/or little to no experience with your [chosen] activity, three months [preparation time] would be the minimum I’d recommend. And don’t wait to start training until the week before you leave – you’re just going to be sore and uncomfortable.”

Get Fit And Flexible


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No matter what sort of trip you’re going on, a good base level of fitness and flexibility will help you avoid injury.  “Having a body that is both strong and pliable is important in preventing injury,” says Towersey. “If you’re stiff as a board and you take your body through an unfamiliar range of movement, if it doesn’t bend, it will break.”

“If you aren’t a regular gym-goer and you’re not accustomed to stretching or mobility drills, yoga could be a good alternative. If you don’t want to go to a class, there are a tonne of apps you can download.”

Know What You’re In For


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The next step is figuring out what parts of the body you need to focus on. For instance, skiing, cycling, climbing, hiking and surfing will require a strong core to keep you balanced and help you move more efficiently.

The best way to train your core? “I’m a huge fan of Pilates, but even if you don’t have a gym [membership], you can escape with the bare minimum by performing different planking variations daily – side planks, on elbows, with straight arms, adding rotation. See if you can work up to a solid 3-5 minute hold without having to rest,” says Towersey.

Don’t skip leg day, either. “If you’re skiing, you’ll need an incredible amount of strength endurance through your legs (wall sits are a great training inclusion), and if you’re hiking, running or cycling, you’d want to have placed a focus on single leg training (think lunges and step-up variations).”

Personal trainer Dylan Rivier suggests looking at the movements associated with your chosen activity. “If you’re skiing or snowboarding, choose exercises that you can see yourself doing on the slopes — squatting, twisting and jumping is going to be your focus as far as strength work goes.”

Get Specific


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But the best way to prepare is to log some hours doing the exact activity you’ll actually be doing overseas. “You can’t get much more specific than actually practicing whatever activity it is you’re going to be doing most of,” says Rivier. “The best way to get better at cycling, for example, is to jump on the bike and start cranking out the k’s!”

Or, if you’re planning on a big hiking trip, start going for day hikes on weekends. You should also wear the clothing and footwear you’re planning to take overseas, so there’s time to break in your boots and discover any issues with your gear before it’s too late. Carry the bag you’re planning on bringing, too, so you can be sure ahead of time it’s not too heavy.

And some trips will require specialised training. “If you’re planning on rock climbing, you need to have included grip training in your lead up, otherwise your holiday could turn into a real cliff-hanger really quickly,” says Towersey.

Don’t Forget About Endurance


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Having practiced your chosen activity is one thing, but you’ll also need to be ready to do it for more than an hour at time. That’s why full-day hikes or walks are great for upping your endurance.

“If you’re planning on hiking Mt Kilimanjaro, again, your legs are going to need conditioning, but so is your endurance,” says Rivier. “Try to acclimatise yourself to long stints on your feet, walking uphill, for example. Sounds super simple but trust me – it’s effective!”

Schedule Some Downtime

Last but not least, when planning your trip try to schedule in some time to rest and recuperate. If you don’t have room in your schedule to take full rest days, make sure you stretch at the end of each day to help your muscles recover.

Towersey recommends traveling with a trigger point ball, which are great for relieving muscle pain. “You should try and maximise your downtime each day so you can be fresh for the next one,” she says. “Stretching, foam rolling, trigger pointing or having a bath can all help.”

(Lead image: Holly Mandarich / Unsplash)

Download the Qantas Wellbeing App before your trip and start earning Qantas Points for everyday activities. Walking the dog, cycling to work and even your downtime could all add up to more Qantas Points.

Disclaimer: You must be a member of the QFF program and over 13 years to use the Qantas Wellbeing App. Conditions apply, visit for details.