Three road warriors sat across from me on a recent plane trip. They were hunched over working on their laptops probably being very productive. Yet one was sneezing and another was coughing. Research shows that frequent business travel takes a toll. According to a study by Andrew G. Ruedle and Catherine A. Richards of Columbia University's School of Public Health in New York, "people who travel for business two weeks or more a month are fatter and report worse health than employees who don't travel." So what do you do if you must travel for your job? Here are a few tips.
Before you go: Be prepared. Build up your immune system in advance with rest, exercise, a good diet and vitamins, including Vitamin C and Zinc.
Check your health insurance coverage: Most companies cover you if you travel domestically, but what about foreign travel?
Pack a first aid kit: Your schedule will be so packed with meetings, business meals and entertaining that getting to a drug store may not be possible. Include any prescriptions you take, asthma inhalers or other devices you use regularly, headache remedies, anti-diarrhea medicines, cold and sore throat treatments, band aids, antibiotic creams and anything else you may need.
If you have a chronic or preexisting condition: Take a letter from your doctor explaining your situation and your needs. It will help if you need medical attention in a strange city or country.
Need a doctor? Call your company's representative or check at the hotel desk. They can assist you.
While you're traveling: Forget the airplane food. Bring your own healthy snacks like dried fruit, fresh apples and bananas, nuts, healthy power bars and even a few pieces of dark chocolate (for antioxidants). Or bring a healthy sandwich or wrap from an airport vendor. Cut down on the caffeine intake. Too much can make you restless, disrupt your sleep and make you nervous. Good substitutes are water and vegetable and fruit juices.
Where to stay: If possible choose a hotel that has a decent restaurant. You'll have convenient healthy meals and room service if you need it. Hotels with exercise facilities, pools and whirlpools are also very popular with business travelers.
Do you need a special room? Nonsmoking rooms are pretty common but what if you have allergies or asthma? Find a hotel that will cater to your needs. Check out hotel choices on websites like www.FreshStay.com or www.pureroom.com.
Exercise: Use the workout center or do jumping jacks, lunges, brisk walking and light lifts in your room. Even 10 to 15 minutes of good, strong exercise can help regulate your system, improve your stamina and aid your sleep.
Marie Stempinski is the president and founder of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in public relations, marketing, business and employee motivation consulting. She can be reached at [email protected] and you can view her website at www.howtomotivate employees.org.