The Business Traveler’s Wellness Guide

Staying in tip-top shape when traveling for business is a combination of pre-trip preparation, in-flight common sense, and on-the-road care. Here is our flight map for staying healthy and fit – so you’re always on top of your game wherever your business takes you.

I: Pre-Trip Prep

1. Take a multivitamin beforehand. In the days leading up to your trip and during your time away from home, add a daily multivitamin to your routine. Although some argue whether it’s necessary to add a vitamin to a healthy, balanced diet, any boost you give to your immune system – especially when being exposed to a confined space like an airplane – could be beneficial.

2. Eat a healthy meal at home. Before you head to the airport, eat a healthy meal – or choose smart alternatives at airport restaurants. Luckily, domestic and international airports have been adding restaurants with a healthy focus. Choose dishes with plenty of vegetables and lean meats. Another tip: Eat yogurt daily a few days prior to flying, or pick up a yogurt parfait at an airport coffee stand. The probiotic bacteria found in yogurt strengthens the immune and digestive systems.

3. Pack a pillow and blanket. Few airlines provide blankets anymore, and the ones you do manage to snare can harbor germs. So, carry a light, foldable blanket in your carry-on, or dress in warm layers. Take along a neck pillow, too; if space is an issue, purchase an inflatable one. Using your own pillow not only helps you sleep germ-free, but can also save you from back and neck pain.

4. Prevent congestion before you board. Airplane air is extremely dry, and the recirculation system dries it out even more. This lack of humidity sucks moisture from the tissues of the nose and mouth, compromising the body’s natural defense system. To combat these effects, pack a bottle of nasal saline spray, and use it before you fly to irrigate and moisturize the delicate membranes inside your nose. If you have a cold, take an oral decongestant about 30 minutes before boarding. If you have allergies, take your allergy medicine an hour before flying.

II: In-Flight Care

1. Stay hydrated. Getting and staying hydrated during your flight is the best way to protect against getting sick. That’s because lack of humidity in the pressurized cabin dries out mucous membranes, making it harder for your system to flush out germs. To keep these germs at bay, drink between 1-2 cups of water per hour of flying time. This will also help prevent symptoms of dehydration, including headaches, fatigue, and constipation.

2. Say “no” to bar service. Skip the gin & tonic, and you’ll arrive at your business destination with a much greater chance of staying healthy. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating, so drinking prior to or during a flight, combined with the low cabin humidity, lowers your resistance to cold and flu germs. If you’re looking to de-stress, choose a healthier alternative, like chamomile tea.

3. Improve blood flow. Sitting for extended periods in upright, narrow chairs is not only uncomfortable, it can also be dangerous. According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), being seated on flights longer than 4 hours may increase the risk of developing blood clots in the veins in your legs, especially in older business travelers. To encourage blood flow, walk up and down the aisles of the plane, flex and stretch your legs (especially your calves), and wear loose, comfortable clothing.

4. Disinfect your space. Bring along a baggie of hand wipes and use them to clean the armrests of your seat, headphones, and tray table area – in addition to your hands. If you touch a communal surface and then touch your face, that action might be all that’s needed to give yourself a nasty cold or stomach bug. Use your sleeve, a tissue or the back of your hand if you must come in contact with areas like your eyes, nose, or mouth, where germs can gain entry.

5. Use the restroom with caution. Most people know not to touch a public toilet seat any more than necessary, but flushing itself also transmits germs. And the closer you stand to the toilet, the more you’re in the “line of fire.” If you must use the on-board bathroom, close the lid before you flush, making sure to use a paper towel between your hand and the lid and handle. Wash your hands thoroughly after flushing, using a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.

III: On-the-Road Rules

In addition to disinfecting your space on the plane, it’s equally important to disinfect the germ-hoarding culprits in your hotel room. Here’s the Top List of 5 you should wipe as soon as you swipe your key card:

  1. TV remote
  2. Hotel phones
  3. The first light switch
  4. Bathroom floors, sinks, and countertops
  5. Pillows and comforters – bring your own pillow if you can, and toss the comforter in a closet!

How do you stay healthy and fit when you're on business travel? If we missed a tip, feel free to share in the comments below.