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Corporate Traveller teamed up with Healthwise to pick the top seven useful tips for business travellers to protect their health and wellbeing when flying. 

Business travel is continuing to rebound strongly as business people get back on planes for meetings, events, and conferences, says Tom Walley, Corporate Traveller’s global managing director.

“The initial sugar rush after borders reopened still hasn’t worn and we now have the added extra of China reopening to the world, meaning more planes in the air, and more capacity for travellers.”

Keeley Alton, GM corporate for Flight Centre Travel Group NZ, agrees. “It’s great to see so many of our Kiwi business people going on business trips once again to different corners of the world to have face-to-face business meetings that will benefit our country’s economy.” 

However, business travel does come with its challenges, she says. “You can go from sleeping on a plane, to a full day of meetings in a new time zone with a different diet to what you are used to, with long periods of sitting. It can be difficult to balance health and wellbeing with the speed of business travel. 

“The other thing to bear in mind is for kiwi businesses, because we are located rather isolated from other regions, our travel time can be a lot longer.” 

Walley says employers have a duty of care to ensure their teams know how to keep themselves safe and well when travelling: “This is why we’re proud to offer our people with Flight Centre Travel Group business Healthwise, a corporate wellness program that inspires and motivates our people to live their happiest and healthiest lives.

“By combining our experience and insights in business travel and its accompanying health risks, with some insights by Healthwise, we’ve created a list of easy and practical ways for travellers to keep their health and fitness levels in check.”

Healthwise’s global business leader Tod Horton says: “Even if they’re short on time and seeking convenience, business travellers can still maintain and improve their health. Something as simple as walking the length of the plane is worth doing. When it comes to your wellbeing, every little step helps.”

1.          Pack a basic health kit.

A small health kit should be able to temporarily manage the symptoms of minor injuries, illnesses and pre-existing conditions while travelling. Bring adequate supplies to last the duration of your trip. Items such as adhesive bandages, gauze, antiseptic solution, safety pins and scissors are useful additions should you sustain a cut or graze. Painkillers, decongestants, and rehydration salts can help with minor cold and sickness symptoms. Other worthy additions to consider are allergy medications, including EpiPens if applicable, and topical creams to treat bug bites and stings. 

2.         Perfect your pre-airport routine. Use the night before your flight to prepare for the hustle and bustle of airport check-in and security. Pack yourself a healthy snack for the flight, have a quick but balanced breakfast, such as Bircher muesli or egg white frittata, ready for the morning, and get an early night’s sleep. It is also worth checking your journey to the airport the night before in case there are scheduled roadworks en-route. These extra steps of preparation will help reduce any unplanned stresses ahead of departure. 

3.         Use seat selection to your advantage. Once you have made it on board, it is easy to sink into your seat and settle in until landing time. However, remaining immobile if your flight is several hours will leave your body working harder to pump blood from your legs back to your heart. By selecting an aisle seat at the time of booking, you will ensure you can get up as you please (when safe to do so) and use the aisles to stretch your legs. 

4.         Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks are a tempting option when travelling; it’s common to feel the need for a few cups of coffee after an early start or a glass of wine on the flight home to decompress. Their diuretic nature combined with the humidity levels on planes, however, increases the risk of dehydration. It’s best to stick to bottled water when flying, and if you’re travelling on a long-haul flight, consider trying a hydration tablet full of electrolytes to assist with water absorption.

5.         Eat balanced meals, in moderation. It’s easy to slip into unhealthy food habits when travelling, with the enticement of hotel breakfast buffets and restaurant meals on offer. Foods with processed sugars, such as pastries, energy drinks and chocolate cake, can cause our energy levels to peak and crash, so these are best to avoid if you want to optimise your energy levels. In addition, moderation is key. If you’ve had a meal of lean protein, vegetables, and wholegrains, and aren’t completely satisfied, a scoop of ice cream won’t hurt and may help to curb the cravings.

6.         Stay on the move when on the move. There is no reason to pause your exercise routine when travelling and staying active can help your body acclimatise to your new location. Consider going for a walk after you check in to get the blood circulating before your flight or consider packing compact fitness items, such as resistance bands, that you can use in your hotel room. Simple exercises such as squats, burpees and bicycle crunches can all be performed in small indoor spaces.

7.         Play your part in infection control. While COVID-19 is less of a concern this year, we all have a responsibility to protect ourselves and others from all kinds of infection. The best defence is basic hygiene such as thorough hand washing, especially after coughing or sneezing, and wiping down surfaces in high-touch areas such as tray tables and armrests. It’s also worth keeping an N95 mask handy in case it is required at your destination. 

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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