07/13/2012 07:26 am ET | Updated Sep 12, 2012

5 Tips For Staying Fit On Vacation

Vacation: a time to eat, sleep, drink and relax. Vacation: not a time to go to the gym or count calories. It's also a time that usually ends up forcing me to hit the treadmill for extra hours upon my return home.

Over the past year I have tried to break myself of this habit, which I'm sure seems familiar to many. Here are some tips and tricks I've learned on staying healthy and active while away.

Make it fun: No one said working out has to involve a gym. In a big city, take a walking tour instead of a tour bus, or walk between sites instead of taking taxis or subways. If you plan your days properly, most sites are probably within walking distance, and you get to explore more of the city. When heading south, take a day off from lounging with a pina colada and book active excursions such as hikes or bike tours. Either before you go or using your phone, visit Travelzoo's Local Deals section for deals on canoe trips, horseback rides, bike tours and other active pursuits while on the road.

Indulge ... with caution: So much of going on vacation is testing out famous restaurants or sampling local foods. This is absolutely OK, just do so with caution. Choose one day to be a Cheat Day, and be smart for the rest. This doesn't mean eat birdseed -- just skip the fries and go for salad or even do something as simple as sharing dessert. If at an all-inclusive resort, breakfasts are usually the same, so test a different dish each day. Also, skip the buffet dinners and instead book an a la carte meal where portions are controlled.

Timing: Schedule your workout during down time. When on a beach vacation, I have a bad habit of sitting in my room watching TV after the beach and before dinner -- this is the perfect time to get in a workout. This time is also ideal as you are most likely sunscreened and chlorined, so adding a little sweat to the mix is the perfect recipe for a shower.

Location, location, location: Skip the hotel gym and go for a walk, run or bike on a local path or beach. So many people spend their days inside, and this gives you a chance to breathe in some fresh air. Outdoor terrain also makes for a more exciting workout vs. incline or level 1-12 on a treadmill or stationary bike.

Gym lovers: With all that in mind, some people just prefer the gym. My advice -- do your research before booking a hotel. Most hotels do have a fitness facility, but be sure they have equipment you are familiar with. This information can often be found on the hotel website, or simply call the front desk. Some gyms offer guest passes to local facilities; be sure to inquire about that too.

-- Joanna Richler is a Travelzoo deal expert based in Toronto. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.