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10 Fitness Must-Haves to Pack in Your Carry-On

Last updated June 28, 2022

If you’re like myself, fitness is a lifestyle. That means, it doesn’t stop once I check into a resort or hotel. It’s a daily. No need to sacrifice space with these 10 fitness must-haves to pack in your carry-on.

While the majority of hotels do have on-site facilities you can access, that may not always be the case, nor will they have all little add-ons that you may want to bring or consider to have of your own.

On the regular, I’m traveling at least twice a month, so I do know a thing or two about how a workout “routine” could severely suffer if you can’t best prepare. 

But, we can! Here’s my 10 fitness must-haves to pack in your carry-on.

1. Travel Mat

I always prefer to bring my own travel mat. Reason being: I never really know how often they are cleaned, nor what quality of mat is going to be provided. Especially when traveling internationally, it can be a toss up even if they have photos on their website. 

A travel mat can be folded and takes up very little space. Then I always know the grip, the quality and the cleanliness.

2. Resistance Bands

Exercise bands are my secret little favorite essential that take up no more space than a plastic baggie.

Bands can be used for such a variety of exercises incorporating the entire body, typically coming in a variety pack with different resistances based on their color and composition.

3. Gliders

Gliders can be used on most hotel rooms that have carpets, and you can also flip them and use them on a harder floor as an alternative.

You can also put a large towel down and strategically use the gliders on top of the towel, making these great for leg and upper body work. Carry-on friendly, taking up very little space, even less than a frisbee (no beach needed).

woman looking at her fitness playlist while working out

4. Workout Playlist

Having a plan takes all the guesswork out of getting a workout in and prevents any excuse from getting in your way of making it happen.

I have a playlist on both my YouTube and on Spotify that have different workouts and different music to keep me going without having to think of what I’m going to work out that day. 

Here’s a link directly to my own personal playlists if you want some inspiration to get started.

5. Pants (Shorts) With Key Card Storage

One of my favorite things to do when traveling, particularly in cities, is going for a run. When I’m at a hotel, I’ll usually have a key card — there’s nothing worse than getting back and feeling like you can’t find it, huffing sweaty to the front desk to ask for a replacement. 

I prefer a pair of pants or shorts that have a specific storage space either in the waistband, the back of the shorts with a little zipper pocket, or pants that have a side pocket where I can easily store it in seamlessly.

fitness must-haves to pack in your carry-on: woman running in shorts and sneakers

6. Versatile Sneakers

I’m a carry-on only kinda gal, and when I travel, I only have room for one pair of sneakers. When packing, I ensure that that pair of sneakers can be worn on the plane, if I’m doing any long city walking, for running on the street and in the hotel gym. 

Choosing a neutral color tone and one that can be all terrain usually fit best, saving the bright colored options for the marathon. 

7. Therapy Balls

Therapy balls are my healer for poor posture and airplane seats, which almost is inevitable no matter how much you try to counteract that.

Ideal for sore muscles and for post workout, or if you wake up and the bed isn’t so comfy wherever you’re staying, and you can work out some of those knots in your neck or back before the meeting or day ahead.

8. Earbuds

Anything wireless is my friend when it comes to listening to music, podcasts, taking calls and digital content. It can be quite annoying having to deal with a cord when running on the streets of a city or having to deal with one extraneous piece of equipment. 

Wireless earbuds give me the opportunity to run wherever — No strings attached.

9. Water Supplements

Water supplements can be great to add in to any filtered water for hydration after a flight and a workout. I opt for something that has electrolytes and no added sugar, such as a coconut-based powered or hydration-focused packet. 

My other hidden secret gem: beet powder for endurance pre or post workout. 

10. Beauty Essentials

Ensure you have a travel-sized facial toner as well as some deodorant to stay fresh, clean and glowing. No matter if you have to go from the gym straight to a meeting. Or just want to freshen up a little bit in between. 


These are 10 fitness must-haves to pack in your carry-on, and items I personally use as well. Do you have a favorite item or tool you bring that’s not mentioned on this list with you when you travel?

Vacayou’s travel concierge team can help you discover, book and plan your next wellness retreat or active vacation. We are here to help create a healthier global community through wellness and active travel.

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