Jayne McAllister

Travel Wellness Expert and Author


10 Reasons Why It’s Better to Check than Carry On (Even On A Business Trip)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the spirit of the Holiday weekend, here’s a fun one for the ladies.

I am the antithesis of the typical business traveler who squeezes all their belongings for a long trip into one neat, roll-on bag which deftly accompanies them onboard. I’m a firm believer in utilizing every millimeter of available space and every gram of weight that is afforded me.

Here is my rationale for this shocking revelation: I had to sit on the tarmac and in the air for many, many hours to earn the elite frequent flyer status that grants me, and anyone in my party, two free checked bags. Many airlines are charging for checked bags, so I’m darned well using my free allocation.

What does this have to do with healthy travel which is my cause?

  1. Having all the stuff you need stops you stressing.  In my case, it’s usually an extra book or two; my Jo Malone candle that gets rid of that ubiquitous hotel room smell; and a robe because I may not be in a hotel that provides them and I’d rather wear mine anyway.
  2. Being able to pack sneakers, a yoga mat, and a pair of Gliders (more about those to come in a future post – in the meantime, check out www.glidingdiscs.com) means you’re more likely to stick to your workout routine.
  3. You can pack healthy snacks so you have more control over what you eat, at least for breakfast and snacking.  Packets of oatmeal, miso soup, tubs of hummus, almonds and lentil chips usually share the space with other sundries in my suitcase.
  4. You can pack your flat iron or curling iron (hotels only provide hair dryers) which means you won’t have a bad hair day. Your mood will be better and you’ll be more productive.
  5. You won’t have to resort to re-wearing or reinventing an outfit because you can only fit one into your bag.  That’s a relief and a boon to self-confidence.
  6. You might see baggage claim as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.  You can check emails, return phone calls, pull up a dining app and select a restaurant for dinner, or just plain old people watch (my favorite).
  7. You can take all of your toiletries so you can keep your regular morning and evening routines.  This will give you a sense of control which reduces stress. Have you ever left on a trip and forgotten your make-up bag? I rest my case… You know what I’m talking about.
  8. If the airline misplaces (we don’t want to say “loses”) your bags, they’ll deliver them to  you when they locate them. This saves you from carrying them. You’ll be less susceptible to neck and lower back injury.
  9. In the unlikely event that the airline has misplaced your luggage permanently, you have a killer shopping opportunity which is a major stress reliever.
  10. Shoes. You can take more shoes. That really says it all.

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Make Your Party Puerto Rican: Ten Recipes for Great Island Food

Be a devil and try recipe #9, ensalada de yuca instead of potato salad at your party this weekend. I’ve made it a bunch of times. Not only is it vegan, so it’s high fiber, but it’s also delicious and makes you look really debonair and international if you serve it. Kind of like when I rolled up to a party once with a lemongrass-jicama slaw, before restaurants were serving jicama slaw. This is your chance to be the trendsetter!

Hot, Cheap & Easy

Whether it’s Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or Christmas, the following dishes – most of them quite easy to prepare and using ingredients available in regular supermarkets (especially those that carry Goya products) — are a medley of the best of Puerto Rican food. This is not a complete list, of course, but mix and match them up and you will have a big table of big, bold food that will introduce everyone to new flavor combinations without scaring them off!

Have a terrific weekend everyone! Buen provecho…..

1. Tostones – Our version of french fries…made with plantains. This is the authentic method with some secret steps!

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10 Tips for Stress-free Travel

I have way more than ten tips on this topic and I look forward to sharing them with you over coming weeks.  These gems are borrowed from Business Traveller and they appealed to me because I actually practice them (apart from the mobile wallet but I’m thinking about it).  See how many you can incorporate into your next trip and please report back!

  1. Wear slip-on shoes. Don’t fumble with laces at airport security – invest in some quality slip-on loafers, deck shoes or pumps.
  2. Pay for lounge access. Flying economy doesn’t mean you have to miss out on chilling in an airport lounge. Most airline clubs sell day passes.  You can also sign up for Priority Pass or Airport Angel, which offer access for annual fees.
  3. Book flights intelligently. Weigh up price over convenience – arriving in the middle of the night or at rush hour has it drawbacks, as do long layovers.  Consider what time you will have to get up to catch that 6 AM flight.  Don’t make life hard for yourself.
  4. Don’t obsess over miles.  Focusing on how many points you earn can become addictive.  Try flying a different airline, pay extra to stay in a hotel you really love, and remember that status isn’t everything.
  5. Be organized. Poor planning can result in missed meetings and general confusion. Carry a detailed itinerary, keep documents in one place, and sync your smart phone with your desktop calendar.
  6. Decide your own black-out dates.  There are certain days of the year – birthdays and anniversaries in particular – when you might not want to travel.  Mark these off in your diary and don’t book a trip that clashes with them. Make sure you are getting your priorities right.
  7. Use a mobile wallet.  For those with Apple’s iOS 6 iPhone software, the Passbook app stores all your 2D-barcode enabled mobile boarding passes, cinema tickets, coupons, loyalty and reward cards in one place, and will even alert you when your flight is leaving.  Lemon (Android, iOS and Windows Phone) and Google Wallet are other options.
  8. Wake up gently.  A blaring alarm clock or hotel wake-up call instantly puts you in a bad mood.  Try downloading a piece of music, the sound of the sea or noises of the jungle to your phone and ease yourself into consciousness.
  9. Establish a haunt.  Find a coffee shop or restaurant you love in a city that you frequent and visit it each time you’re in town- it will make you feel at home.
  10. Be appreciative.  Try to keep things in perspective.  It’s easy to get cynical, irritable and demanding when you travel frequently, but remembering the position of privilege you are in and looking on the bright side can do wonders for your temper.

Big thank you to the folks at Business Traveller (February 2013 issue) for these tips.  www.businesstraveller.com.

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10 Signs You’re a Travel Health Nut

LAX Hilton, October 2012.  In-room safe drawer is used for storing healthy snacks. Very valuable merchandise.

LAX Hilton, October 2012. In-room safe drawer is used for storing healthy snacks. Very valuable merchandise.

These might sound fabricated but they are all true and come from a collaboration of friends who travel frequently on business.  I’m not telling you which ones I contributed!

1.  A handbag clean out reveals almonds, seaweed snacks, chopsticks and a theraband.

2.  Your flight is delayed so you go to the yoga room, not the bar.

3. Your flight is cancelled.  Other passengers are yelling at airline staff; you take the opportunity to listen to a guided meditation.

4.  You book your hotel based on its proximity to Whole Foods.

5.  Luggage allowance = room for sneakers, yoga mat, mega tubs of hummus and your tea kettle.

6.  You research airport dining options before you leave so you can choose the healthiest option.

7. You pack quinoa porridge in a double Ziploc bag in your suitcase so you can eat it for breakfast every day. (See” tea kettle” above).

8. You pack your Vitamix because of fear of not being able to have a green smoothie daily.

9.  You have to explain to TSA agents that you are not carrying drugs in Ziploc bags, but flax, hemp and chia seeds and that, yes, you can eat them.  You deliver a 15-minute lecture on the nutritional benefits of each while the line grows behind you.

10. If your hotel room doesn’t have a refrigerator, you use your ice bucket to keep your perishable snacks cold. Tubs of berries, hummus, raw chocolate, guacamole and salsa all vie for space.


10 Healthy Travel Snacks

Probably more than anything, I’m asked what travelers should take as snacks on their trips.  It’s a good question because there are so many fat- and sugar-laden options at airports (and in supermarkets for that matter…).  Here are my go-to favorites:

Mixed NutsAlmonds. I always have a bag of almonds with me in case disaster (i.e. hunger) strikes.  Fat, fiber and flavor. Quick and easy.  Around 21 almonds equals an ounce and that should more than suffice.  I generally limit myself to ten.

Goji Berries.  What?  The most nutritionally rice berry-fruit on the planet. They are a complete protein source as well as being full of vitamins and minerals. Gojis contribute to longevity and healthy hormones; improve vision; boost the immune system; and they contain a huge amount of hydrogen so are excellent for countering inflight dehydration. You’ll find them at your local health food store.  And, you can get chocolate-covered goji berries but I didn’t tell you that.

Fresh fruit. Flying dehydrates you horribly and fruit is full of the best quality water there is.

Hummus. Even airport shops sell little tubs of hummus nowadays. It’s a yummy blend of protein and carbohydrate, and the fiber helps prevent inflight bloating.

Boxes_CoconutRaw chocolate.  Chocolate is a super food but not when it has soy fillers and artificial ingredients.  Raw chocolate is the real thing and it’s delicious. My favorite is www.vitachocolates.com.  I’m addicted to the coconut flavor.

Organic sweet potato chips.  So much better than the processed snacks you may or may not get on board.  These days I’m addicted to Late July’s products.  www.latejuly.com.

Raw veggies.  Looking for crunch?  Get adventurous.  Carrots and celery are yummy but find your inner radical and bring slices of fennel, jicama and radish with you.  Even better with the hummus!

Chips and salsa. Of course!  Salsa is made from fresh, raw vegetables.  Pair with gluten-free chips such as Late July (mentioned above) or lentil chips (www.mediterraneansnackfoods.com).

Jerky.  I’m including this for the meat lovers and carbo-phobes among you.

Seaweed snacks.  My favorite!  They weigh nothing so I always have a packet in my handbag. Seaweed is a super food and it’s a great protein – excellent for leveling blood sugar. A whole packet is 60 calories but you have to check your teeth afterwards for green bits.