Here are the best apps for happy, healthy travels

Wish you could take a personal wellbeing coach on the road with you? Here are 13 options to do just that.

By Louise Wedgwood, January 14 2020

We're now two weeks into 2020, and hopefully most of your new year's resolutions have survived intact. However, if anything is going to send your plans awry, it's travel. Travel shakes up your routine, cuts back on your spare time and generally succeeds in getting in the way of good intentions. Here are some apps to change that and bring your wellbeing habits on the road with you.

Building habits

When you're away from home and out of routine, how do you maintain healthy behaviours? In Streaks, you can set custom goals, like meditating every evening or eating two pieces of fruit a day. Streaks motivates you to maintain a 12-day “streak” of this good habit. Its minimalist design makes it a pleasure to tick off your successes. $7.99 from Apple Store

Maintain good health even when you're travelling with habit-forming apps such as Streaks.
Maintain good health even when you're travelling with habit-forming apps such as Streaks.

If you played your fair share of video games as a teen, you may get a kick out of Habitica. Each task you complete in this fun habit tracker will level up your customised avatar and unlock new features. Who said flossing your teeth had to be boring? $4.99 a month / $47.99 a year from Apple Store, Google Play

Working out

Short on time? Research shows that just seven minutes of high-intensity circuit training is enough to change your health. It can lower body fat, increase insulin sensitivity, and improve your use of oxygen. Out of 28 similar apps, the J&J Official 7 Minute Workout best meets official exercise guidelines, according to a 2017 analysis. Helpfully, it includes audio cues to maintain perfect form, hands-free. Free from Apple Store, Google Play

Seven minutes of high-intensity circuit training per day is enough to maintain good health.
Seven minutes of high-intensity circuit training per day is enough to maintain good health.

If you're up for a full-body workout anytime and anywhere, try Nike Training Club. Make the most of the hotel facilities with a gym-based session, or choose an equipment-free routine and stay in your room. Workouts last between five and 47 minutes and you can focus on endurance, mobility, strength or yoga. For a longer-term approach, training plans include the four-week “start up” and the eight-week “gym strong” program. Free from Apple Store, Google Play, includes in-app purchases

ClassPass lets you take gym classes all over the world. Indoor cycling, boxing, yoga and more – access them all, in partner gyms and studios everywhere from Singapore to Switzerland. For example, ClassPass will get you into 95 venues in Sydney's CBD. There’s a free 14-day trial then monthly payments (e.g. $49 for up to 6 classes/month). Free to download from Apple Store, Google Play 

Running

Running is one of the most portable activities and the popular Couch to 5K Runner program eases you into it. You just need 30 minutes, three times a week, for eight weeks to become the runner you always wanted to be. Free download and trial on Apple Store, Google Play; subscription fees apply

A fitness app such as Strava can take you for a run in a foreign city.
A fitness app such as Strava can take you for a run in a foreign city.

Strava helps you find interesting routes in whichever city you land. When you run in a popular location, you can even see how you measure up to others on the same route. Or you can compare your time to your last run. Naturally it will also track the time and distance if you like to find your own way. Free from Apple Store, Google Play with subscription for premium features

Yoga

With over 55,000 five-star reviews, Down Dog  is the cream of the crop for yoga apps. Each session it generates a custom workout to avoid boring repetition. The session matches your prior experience, the time available, and areas you'd like to tackle. Perhaps focus on building upper body strength, relaxing tight neck muscles or counteracting the effects of slouching. $7.99 a month / $49.99 a year from Apple Store, Google Play

Exercise needn't be a chore with a yoga app such as Down Dog providing a unique workout each time.
Exercise needn't be a chore with a yoga app such as Down Dog providing a unique workout each time.

Can’t commit to a whole yoga class? Taking a short breather between appointments or just dipping a toe into yoga? Open 5 Minute Yoga and you’re straight into it – five minutes later and you’ll feel the effects. Free from Apple Store, Google Play with subscription for premium features 

Eating well

It can be hard to tell whether you’re eating enough, or too much, of different types of foods. The  long-standing MyFitnessPal app analyses the energy and the ratios of carbohydrate, protein and fat in your meals. For instance, use it to make an informed choice when you peruse an unfamiliar restaurant menu. While there's more to healthy eating than counting calories, the hard data can be enlightening. Free from Apple Store, Google Play with subscription for premium features

It's easy to fall into a poor diet on the road, which is when an app such as My Fitness Pal can keep you on the right track.
It's easy to fall into a poor diet on the road, which is when an app such as My Fitness Pal can keep you on the right track.

You don't have to be vegan or vegetarian to reap the feel-good effects of eating nutritious meals plant-based foods. Happy Cow helps you find cafes and restaurants with  vegetarian and vegan options across the globe, to get more plant proteins and greens in your diet. $5.99 from Apple Store, Google Play

Winding down

Headspace is one of the most popular mindfulness apps, for good reason. After a long flight or back-to-back meetings, you can select a guided meditation designed to help you fall asleep, or de-stress. Even the two- to three-minute mini meditations can have a profound effect on your emotional and mental state. $12.99 a month / $94.99 a year from Apple Store, Google Play

Wind down with a dose of mindfulness from Headspace.
Wind down with a dose of mindfulness from Headspace.

Sometimes you need to put down your phone and focus on something more important, whether that's a strategic plan or some chill-out time. That's where Forest excels. First, plant a “tree” and choose a time between 10 minutes and two hours. After that period, a new tree will have grown in your forest. Exit the app early to do something else, and your tree dies. $2.99 from Apple Store, Google Play, offers in-app purchases 

Also read: These apps will keep your New Year's resolutions on track in 2020

Louise Wedgwood

Louise Wedgwood is a Brisbane-based 'science-savvy' health and lifestyle writer.


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