Don’t be a Fatpacker

by Ant Stone on April 27, 2010

in Features

Fatpackers don’t just carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, they carry it on their waists, their thighs and their unsupported ankles. They huff through alleyways, puff on trains and wheeze their way through the best travel destinations in the world. Take the weight off your feet, and consider these reasons to stay healthy on the road.

As travellers, we’re constantly accused of an extraordinary number of things: Pollution. Cultural degradation. Ignorance. Laziness. The last one infuriates me.

Because we’re so lazy we pound the streets in 35°C heat, with a 20kg backpack clawing at our backs? So lazy we wake at 4am to scramble up the slopes of a smoking volcano? In ode to our apparent laziness, here’s a run-down of ten mighty reasons, to consider introducing a healthy fitness regime into your travel plans.

It’s important for backpackers to do some light exercise. Lugging a backpack around is no mean feat, especially for those not previously attuned to a spot of physical exercise. A regular exercise routine can be useful at any stage of your journey, and the sooner you get into good habits, the better your travelling experience will be.

Benefits of Exercise while Travelling

10 Benefits of Exercise for Travellers

    Core Strength

      A strong core (abs and back) offers vital support to your spine. This has numerous benefits for the modern backpacker, including the ability to sleep on night buses, or avoiding injury when lifting your backpack onto the roof of a chicken bus.

    Balanced Diet

      A good exercise routine encourages a good metabolism, which promotes more trips to the street markets. It also promotes a natural awareness of the foodstuffs we consume, giving us a greater insight into the produce, and in turn, a greater insight into the local culture.

    Outsider, Insider

      Outside of the big cities, a dedicated exercise routine is a phenomenon not often seen by country folk. A perspiring Westerner is a natural talking point, and can be an angle to spark conversation in a small community. Any ability to play sport, is an additional draw card.

    Cleaning Up

      Exercise makes you sweat. Sweat makes you shower. For travellers (renowned for casual hygiene), this is good. While many believe joining the Great Unwashed is perfectly acceptable (even beneficial, when looking at training our bodies to fight alien bacteria), it’s just plain good manners to keep clean.

    Natural Medicine

      Exercise boosts our immune system and helps to reduce heart disease, and high blood pressure. This is especially beneficial for travellers who are drawn towards the more fatty local delicacies, or become partial to an extra beer, or cigarette due to their relatively low cost compared to your homeland.

Black and White Sherpa

    Stress Management

      Exercise is a natural stress reliever. This is especially relevant for travellers who are off the beaten track. The ability to handle stress in a controlled manner can mean the world of difference to a perilous situation. If you have the state of mind to take a deep breath, and evaluate a situation, you’ll be in full control of the outcome.

    Energy Boost

      Exercise is a natural pick-me-up, releasing endorphins into the bloodstream, which promotes a more positive outlook. This is especially important for cultural integration. If you appear warm and welcoming, you should be equally received. If you appear grumpy and disconnected to your surroundings, chances are you’ll leave the destination feeling disappointed.

    Sleep Tight

      Exercise aids a good sleeping routine; as well as helping us become more alert during the day. This is especially relevant for those encountering testing sleeping scenarios such as dorm rooms, night buses or trains. It also aids us ability to observe, absorb and assess your surroundings.

    Lose Pounds

      Exercise helps us lose weight, which could be a future factor in how much your airfares cost. This is based on numerous controversial headlines over the passed year, which suggest a movement to target overweight passengers as a source for lucrative penalty fees.

    Happy Days

      Keeping obesity at bay can have massive effects on your self-esteem. Obesity is a natural downer, and sensitive souls can often find themselves in a lengthy spiral of depression and agoraphobia, which prevents them from achieving their dreams of travel.

Make a pledge today, to kick your fatpacking habits to the curb. The theory is targeted towards the emotional aspect of your journey, rather than the physical appearance of your waistline.

After all, taking a positive approach to maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle is intrinsic to a healthy, balanced journey.

Looking for Travel Advice? Try the T-Bag Travel Blog Directory
[image credits: aye_shamus & lepetitNicolas]

Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Eli May 5, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Good advice. I have been thinking lately about this very same topic in these months leading to my trip. I was considering starting a jogging/push-up/sit-up routine to prepare for the long-term backpacking trip. Of course the key is to keep it up while you’re out there. Thanks!
.-= Eli´s last blog ..The Art of Constant Learning =-.

Ant May 7, 2010 at 6:54 am

Hi Eli… All three exercises would be easy to carry on, as long as you keep the motivation up and your fluid intake. I can’t recommend my first point enough: a strong core will really help avoid niggling back injuries.

Remember, there is often no way of avoiding picking up that 20kg backpack, whether you’re injured or not so it’s best to avoid the possibility as early as possible.

Swimming is also a good exercise to consider.

Sean Smith - Fat Paddler June 21, 2010 at 7:07 pm

By your definition, I would be considered a Fatpacker. I’m a big guy at 130kg, and by your definition carrying a bit too much on my waist, thighs and ankles.

But then I come from a family that seems to have a genetic disposition to being big. When I was fit, playing/training for rugby 3 times a week and going to the gym in between, I was 119kgs. A car accident that broke my pelvis and lower back ended rugby for me, hence the extra weight.

But I still exercise and eat healthily. I kayak now instead for many hours each week. And pending work and family commitments, I go to the gym as well.

With all the exercise I do, my cardio-vascular health is excellent, with my doctor always impressed by my overall health and fitness.

Last year I backpacked into Alaska. I took a 23kg backpack kayak as well as my own personal backpack, and a laptop. I trekked into the Harding Icefield. I kayaked 8-10 hours a day amongst icebergs, whales, otters and salmon. I climbed glacial morraines in a full drysuit. And then I trekked back out.

But you know what? Someday someone may just call me a Fatpacker, suggest I pay more for my airfares, and hint that perhaps my larger state is my own fault. When that happens, it will probably upset me, and I’ll no doubt think of you.

Regards – FP

Ant June 21, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Thanks for your comment Sean. I understand where you’re coming from.

Your travels and style sound utterly amazing, and you have my full admiration for putting yourself out there in such tough environments.

In terms of your concerns: Although I do use the term, Fatpacker, much of my advice is geared towards the act of healthy living; considering the foods we consume, and an awareness of the needs of our bodies to deal with the toil of travelling.

In many ways, it’s about your ‘inner fat’, rather than a targetted attack on clinically obese individuals which I tried to quantify in one of the closing paragraphs:

The theory is targeted towards the emotional aspect of your journey, rather than the physical appearance of your waistline.

By proxy, many people will lose ‘fat’ when they sustain a healthy lifestyle which combines a balanced diet with regular exercise, and it seems you’re a champion for this.

I’d also like to make it clear, that I do not support the act of charging larger people extra for their airfares. I was highlighting this as a relevant, topical issue within the travel industry.

The above article is intended to raise awareness of the dangers of doing nothing. Of long-term travellers believing they’re on a holiday, and allowing their good habits to go to pot. It’s about promoting the benefits of travel, via exercise.

Overall, Sean you’ve added a lot of positives to the topic and I’d encourage readers to check out your blog for some amazing pictures of the Alaskan trip and kayak travel in general.

Thanks again, Sean.

Maisie Marshall July 4, 2010 at 3:10 am

Everyone really wants some good way of stress management. Yoga and meditation are good.-~;

Rain April 18, 2011 at 7:46 am

Just stumbled on this post and really glad to have read it. Really need to stay fit, otherwise trekking, hiking and all those fun stuff would be quite a challenge with the extra weight.

Ant Stone April 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Fitness can help you in all areas of life, Rain. Good luck with your training, and travels.

What Is the best e cigarette August 23, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Asking questions are truly fastidious thing if you are not understanding something entirely,
except this piece of writing gives nice understanding yet.

Previous post:

Next post: