Jayne McAllister

Travel Wellness Expert and Author


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Want to avoid getting sick while traveling this holiday season?

MILEHIGH_FRONT_FINALTraveling from sunny Florida to colder climes always presents a problem with getting sick. I take all the precautions I can to be resilient but every now and again, I succumb. On my most recent trip to England, I happened to be staying with family who both had a throat infection when I arrived. Given that touch is the most common way to transfer germs, I couldn’t exactly wear a Hazmat suit as I arrived on their doorstep. Nor did I feel inclined to insult my hosts by disinfecting all flat surfaces or asking them to wear gloves while preparing my meals.

Five days later my voice disappeared. In all fairness, I’d also undertaken 11 hours of flying to get there. If I’d taken my own advice better, what could I have done? Here’s an excerpt from my upcoming book “Mile High and Healthy: The Frequent Traveler’s Roadmap to Eating, Energy, Exercise and a Balanced Life.”

“Travelers often complain that they have picked up a cold or flu after flying. I’ve certainly blamed the odd cold on fellow passengers. Confined spaces, reused blankets and pillows and proximity to other passengers over the course of several hours mean exposure from breathing, coughing and sneezing as germs are released into the air.

You can easily catch a cold by sharing an office, train, bus or room with infected people. However, a 2004 study in the Journal of Environmental Health Research revealed that twenty percent of passengers reported colds five to seven days after a two and a half hour flight.

According to Mariana Calleja, M.D. and founder of travelthy.com , ‘Touch is the most common way to get infected during air travel. For example, everyone without exception has some kind of contact with other people’s germs whenever they go to the toilet and grab the door handle, or when they touch seat heads as they walk through the aisle during flight, or when they are talking to a hotel’s front desk staff, exchanging documents and waiting with arms on the counter during the check-in process.’  Dr. Calleja says the simplest way to avoid infection is to wash one’s hands as often as possible.

By the way, it’s wise to monitor yourself for a few days after a trip because symptoms of ailments may not appear immediately.  Continue to hydrate and look for signs such as digestive trouble, unexplained fevers or headaches and skin reactions.

Proximity to others is the primary factor that causes germs to spread. There is a misconception at large that the recirculating air in the aircraft cabin is to blame.  A 2002 study by the Aerospace Medical Association concluded that there was “no evidence that organisms pass from one person to another through the aircraft ventilation system.”  Note that in newer aircraft fifty percent of the air in the cabin is recirculated and passes through filters that remove bacteria, fungi and most viruses.  The other fifty percent of the air comes from outside.  This evidence about the ventilation system was corroborated by further studies in 2010.

A 1997 study in the European Respiratory Journal suggests that low humidity impairs your ability to resist germs because the mechanism that protects against colds slows down or stops when there is low humidity.  This would be your Mucociliary Clearance System which traps viruses and bacteria before moving them from the nose and throat to destruction in the stomach.  When dry, the mucus becomes too thick to be moved by the cilia (little hairs) that normally push it along.  The infectious bodies hang around and you get sick. This is another most excellent reason to stay hydrated. “

Mile High and Healthy: The Frequent Traveler’s Roadmap to Eating, Energy, Exercise and a Balanced Life will be available for purchase from December 7th. To reserve your copy, please click here.

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Three Tips for Getting A Good Night’s Sleep On An Airplane – in Economy Class

squashed on flightThis is the first in a series of articles about getting a good night’s sleep as a business traveler. I’m a nine hour’s a night girl so I have to make sure that I sleep well on the road, or in the air as is the case today. The luxuries of a first class cabin lay-flat bed aren’t always available to me. My class of service on an airline is determined by how many miles I have available to upgrade (transatlantic) or on which airline I have status (domestic flights). Needless to say, there are times when all the miles have been used up or I’m flying on very full flights on which it’s impossible to upgrade. Economy it is then. With the people, crammed into a seat with a 30-inch pitch. Here’s what I do to make myself more comfortable:

1. Use Seat Guru. I’m over upgrading on redeyes. I paid for an upgrade from LA to Orlando not that long ago thinking I’d be able to grab a good night’s kip in first class. The flight left at 11 PM so I wasn’t interested in the meal service. Sitting in the bulk head, I curled up, leaned against the window (I can’t do aisles on an overnight flight since I woke up with my head on a complete stranger’s shoulder) and started counting sheep. I drifted off but was wakened by a droning. It wasn’t the engines. My proximity to the galley was the problem. With service over, the flight attendants were seated for several hours, chatting away loudly. They yakked all night. I began to understand why it was a nonstop flight – it was a reference to their vocal cords.

My new trick is to go to www.seatguru.com and check out their recommended seats. For example, instead of upgrading on red eyes, I get row 16 or 17 in coach on an American Airlines 737 in which the middle seat is blocked off. This provides a bit more room and plenty more space for belongings. Avoid seats near the galley (as I learned) and the rest rooms. The queue for the loo can be quite disturbing.

travel_eye_mask-300x2262. Wear an eye mask. The lights in a plane will keep you awake all night, and mess with melatonin levels, which the body produces naturally to regulate sleep. Even if the lights are dimmed, you’ll still perceive that they’re on and you won’t enjoy quality slumber.

Wearing a mask will ensure melatonin production and save you from taking a supplement or, heaven forbid, a sleeping pill. If you really want to boost melatonin levels, consume natural sources such as pineapples, bananas, oranges, oats, sweet corn, brown rice, tomatoes and barley the day before you fly.

Don’t worry about looking silly with a mask. That’s only an issue for ladies wearing lots of make-up which rubs off on the mask and leaves them looking like a startled panda.

3. Eat Before You Fly. True or false? You sometimes eat on planes because you’re bored and service breaks the monotony. If you have the chance to eat before you fly, you’ll be able to make better choices, and maybe even add a salad to improve digestion and lessen the effects of jet lag. A heavy meal will interfere with your sleep patterns even more at 35,000 feet than it does on the ground.

Think about what’s going on inside your body. Cabin pressure is causing gases to expand and blood volume is decreasing from the lack of oxygen. Your organs are working harder to function normally yet you’re seriously thinking of eating everything on that little tray in front of you? On a regular day, your liver goes to work digesting and detoxing typically between the hours of 10 PM and 2 AM. If you’re eating closer to those hours because of inflight service and your liver’s already working harder because of in cabin conditions, it won’t do its job properly. You can say goodnight to dreams of uninterrupted slumber.


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The Best Airline Meals You Can Purchase

When was this made?

When was this made?

Last fall I learned that most airline meals – for coach class – are typically made anywhere from three to 18 months in advance.  That includes your breakfast omelet… Since then I’ve always ordered a special meal as I know that my Hindu vegan dishes will be made to order.  It’s not so bad if you’re in business or first as your meal may actually be made the same day, possibly the day before.  If you’re flying up front on Etihad, Austrian or Turkish Airlines, chances are you’ll have a chef on board too.

What if you’re stuck in steerage and you didn’t have chance to pick up anything at the airport?  Some airlines offer food for purchase on otherwise food-free flights, or even as an upgrade to regular offerings.  Here are your best bets:

Delta Air Lines has a new line of healthy menu items from Luvo in the economy cabin on transcontinental flights between JFK and LA, San Francisco and Seattle.  Luvo Inc is an Atlanta-based company committed to providing healthy meals made with natural and sustainable ingredients, no added trans-fats, and hormone and antibiotic-free proteins.  The meals are complimentary for customers seated in Economy Comfort and available for purchase for customers seated in Economy.  Offerings include Luvo Quinoa Crunch Wrap (360 calories), Luvo Grilled Chicken Wrap (400 calories) and Luvo Roast Turkey & Havarti Wrap (440 calories).

Air France allows you to pre-order an “à la carte” meal up to 24 hours prior to departure on its long haul flights.  You can select from traditional French, organic, Italian, fresh seafood options or an extravagant menu  from the renowned Maison Lenôtre. Prices range from 12 euros for “La Dolce Vita” Italian option to 28 Euros for the Maison Lenôtre.

This is what first class on Iberia gets you - terrible.

This is what first class on Iberia gets you – terrible.

American Airlines offers “fresh breakfasts” (as opposed to the one made 12 months ago), and “light and fresh meals” (also as opposed to the one made 12 months ago) for purchase on domestic flights over 3 hours. Between $6.79 and $9.99 will get you a breakfast sandwich, fruit and cheese plate, or a cobb salad among other offerings.

United Airlines has a Bistro Scramble as a select breakfast on certain flights but there’s no mention of when it’s made, so beware if you’re as leery of eggs on a plane as I am.  On certain flights the Bistro On Board repertoire extends to a chicken stir-fry ($9.99), Asian-style noodle salad ($8.49), and an Artisan Cheese selection ($7.99). Sandwiches include a chicken wrap and a roast beef and cheddar baguette (both $8.99).

Of course this all pales in comparison with Korean Airlines whose very own farm provides organic produce, chickens, eggs and beef for its inflight catering.  The farm was started by the family that owns Korean Air in 1991.  They were way ahead of the inflight catering curve.

Finally, I sought the advice of Nikos Loukas, founder of  www.Inflightfeed.com and consultant to the airline catering industry.  Nikos suggests that you go to the airline’s website and see how much space they devote to inflight meals.  The more information there is, the better off you’re likely to be.  I have to say, my research proved this to be very true.

BonVoyage et Bon Appétit!


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Healthy Travel Summit: International Expert Interview Series

travel summit logo 2

The first global event that focuses on every aspect of business travel from diet and exercise to stress, socializing and relationships.

WHAT7 Experts, 3 Countries, and the Most Authoritative Voices in Travel Health.

WHEN: September 9th to 15th at noon EST/17:00 GMT.

WHERE: Virtual! Listen via webcast or download and listen at your leisure.

HOW: Register for FREE right here.

WHY: Because when my health was suffering as a result of bad habits gleaned from constant travel, I could have really used help like this. The combined interviews will be the most comprehensive guide ever to overall health and wellness for the business traveler.

WHO: Adam Glickman, Head of EVEN Hotels; Averil Leimon, Director of White Water Strategies, one of the UK’s top ten coaches (Independent on Sunday), and author of Positive Psychology for Dummies; Nikos Loukas, founder of InflightFeed.com and consultant to the airline catering industry; Christopher Babayode, the Go To person for healthy jet lag solutions for frequent fliers, founder of www.NoJetStress.com, a hybrid nutrition, fitness and wellness program that helps frequent fliers overcome jet lag without medication; Stewart Stone, founder of NowLanding.com, the social network for frequent business travelers; Katherine Patch Sleipnes, business development director of FlyInStyle.co, the app that helps you maximize your time in airports; and Jayne McAllister, I’m here to talk about overcoming challenges with diet and exercise on the road.

THANK YOU! SEE YOU AT THE HEALTHY TRAVEL SUMMIT: INTERNATIONAL EXPERT INTERVIEW SERIES.  REGISTER HERE.


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Vino Volo – Taking Airport Food (& Wine) to New Heights

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you follow me regularly, you know that I have a bit of a beef with airport dining.  That said, I’m thrilled that more and more airports are elevating their options so we may actually get to the point where it’s worth checking in early or not suffering through a long layover.  I’m all in favor of eating before boarding so you can have more control over what you consume, but I want to see more than cinnamon rolls and soggy pizza on the menu.

Imagine my delight therefore when I had the opportunity to try Vino Volo at JFK recently.  Since I became self-employed, I  no longer have airport lounge membership.  It used to bother me but now that I’ve discovered Vino Volo, I really don’t care.  This is way better!

What’s all the fuss about?  While you’re waiting for your flight, you can indulge in a flight of a different kind, a wine tasting flight.  Vino Volo’s thoughtful and extensive list has something for everyone whether red, white or rosé, Old World or New World.  The Italian Stallions get my vote, a macho flight of Valpolicella, Barolo and Rosso di Toscana that perfectly complemented the cheese plate.  Even my sommelier husband was impressed…

But, Jayne, you’re all about being healthy on the road… That’s right, I am.  First of all, I’d rather see someone consume a glass of red wine rather than a soda any day.  The former – in moderation – is way healthier than the latter.  Secondly, wherever there is good wine, there is usually good food.  That principle certainly applies in Vino Volo’s case.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe menu is small but well-planned.  You can order as little as cured olives or marcona almonds to enjoy with your wine (I really recommend that if you’re not having anything else to eat – please don’t ever drink on an empty stomach).  Or, you can select from three plates and three sandwiches and salads.  These all come in half portions, which I wish more places would offer, so the calorie counts are very reasonable.

The smoked salmon rolls are 270 calories for a half portion; chickpea and chorizo chili a mere 200, penne and cheese for the non-carb phobic weighs in at 330 calories for a half portion.  A fabulous roasted chicken breast salad has 310 calories for the half, and 510 calories for the full size.  Sandwiches are similar in energy values, and you can choose between the tuscan chicken or the brie and prosciutto.  Not too shabby!

Plus the setting is stylish and comfortable, and, in my humble opinion, more interesting than an airport lounge.  I can people watch and I’m less likely to be subjected to other folk’s cell phone conversations.  Most importantly, the wine and food options are better!

Vino Volo has 17 airport locations, including JFK, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington Dulles, Newark and Philadelphia. For exact airport and terminal locations, check out their website at http://www.vinovolo.com.  Now if they would just open one in the American Airlines terminal in Orlando…

Bon Appetit!


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Top 10 Tips To Avoid Travel Weight Gain

Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean it's devoid of calories.

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean it’s devoid of calories.

It’s that time of year again.  Even if you travel year round like I do, it’s that time of year again.  How do I know?  There’s some kind of airport strike in France. This year it’s the air traffic controllers. School’s out or nearly out and you can’t find a transatlantic ticket for under $1,000, and that’s for the last row of economy, next to the loo.   And there’s one more thing: the weight gain that accompanies the opening of the floodgates of permissions that can have you stuffing your face with every fatty, sugary, calorific morsel you spy.

While many of my clients and I deal with this on a year round basis, I’d like to revisit travel weight gain on this summer solstice so you have a little primer to stave off the dreaded excess baggage that might creep around your middle or derriere if you don’t keep it in check. (That was supposed to be a gentle pun about checking baggage – I’m easily amused).

Here they are – my Top 10 Tips To Avoid Travel Weight Gain:

1. Plan Ahead

Planning ahead will keep you in control and take the guessing out of meal decisions while you’re away.  Start by checking out the eateries in the airport from which you’re flying in case you expect to eat before you fly.  Call your hotel and make sure you have a refrigerator in your room so you can pick up breakfast supplies and healthy snacks once you reach your destination.  If you’re flying long haul, order a special meal such as Hindu vegetarian (Yes, really.  I do this every time).  You’ll have a more nutritious meal with more vegetables, less fat and sugar.

2. Eat Veggies at Every Meal

Crowd out your plate with extra orders of veggies and eat them before you touch whatever else is on your plate.  Start your meal with a salad too.  That way, you’ll curb your appetite with the low-calorie, nutritious foods and be less likely to overeat on starches and animal proteins.  Dress your salad with olive oil and lemon juice or a little vinegar.

3. Look For Ways to Exercise

Traveling is not the time to wimp out on your regular exercise routine.  Although if you are committed to exercising daily, chances are you will continue your routine at the hotel or at a nearby gym.  That said, if extra morsels are making their way onto your plate, you’ll have to move more to counter the effects. So, regular exerciser or not, take the stairs, walk a few more blocks or go for a swim.  Or, let your hair down and boogie a bit more than usual.  It doesn’t matter what you do, just keep moving.

4.  Avoid Zoning Out With Menus

Do your eyes glaze over when you look at a menu? Does your brain turn to spaghetti and you forget everything you know about healthy eating as soon as steak au poivre jumps off the page at you? Does the fact that you’re traveling mean that all of the yummy concoctions listed in front of you are just fine to order?  Time to get a grip.  If you wouldn’t eat a double chocolate cheesecake at home, what makes you think it has fewer calories while you’re on vacation?  The same healthy eating rules apply as at home.  Look for simple dishes, maybe two appetizers instead of an entrée and appetizer, and always a green salad.

5. Take Food With You

This is probably the single smartest thing you can do.  Having healthy food with you at all times eradicates excuses and keeps you in charge of your health.  I travel with almonds, seaweed snacks, lentil chips, hummus and guacamole.  If you’re flying, hummus etc are considered creams/lotions and should be in 3-ounce or less containers.  That said, I’ve taken bigger tubs through in hand luggage and not had any problems.  It depends on the TSA of the day!

If you’re driving, take a cooler.  Use freezable foods or drinks as ice blocks.  For example, use frozen high-protein muffins and you’ll have the next day’s breakfast ready in advance.  I’ve been known to check a cooler inside a bag pre-flight for the same reason.  Those of you who know me well, know that I always check luggage.  One of my bags is usually full of healthy food.  I have a bag of oatmeal that’s been all over the place with me.

Other good foods to pack are dates, dried mango, crackers (I recommend Nut-Thins by Blue Diamond), cherries, carrot and celery sticks, smoked salmon, homemade popcorn, and bean salad.

6.  Share A Plate

If you want to let go and have a to-die-for dish or dessert that’s packed with calories, share it.  Don’t deprive yourself – you’ll end up feeling resentful and put yourself at risk for bingeing as a result.  Have a few bites, relish it and appreciate it.  You’re worth it but respect your self-worth by not polishing off all of it.

7.  Drink Wisely

If you’re going to indulge, whether traveling for business or pleasure, beware the perils of overindulgence.  I’m not talking about obvious hangovers, but the lack of energy, blotchy skin and weight gain.  If you’re trying to lose weight, there’s little room for the empty calories in alcohol, I’m afraid.  If that’s not an issue, avoid drinks that have soda as a mixer.  The diet stuff is poisonous and the regular is full of sugar.  Spirits mixed with soda water are okay. A glass or two of wine enjoyed with dinner are fine.

If you’re on vacation, the pina coladas and daiquiris that seem so appealing when you’re sitting out in the heat of the day might be regretted later for more than their high calorie content.  My recommendations are to avoid drinking in the mid-day sun (even though I’m English and married to a mad dog) and – my number one rule – always always have food when you drink to avoid the alcohol entering the blood stream too quickly.  You’ll also be less inclined to end up in embarrassing situations.

8.  Start the Day Right

Rushing at the start of the day and avoiding breakfast sets you up to fail.  That said, I’m not a fan of breakfast for breakfast’s sake because your typical cereal, juice and muffin are full of sugar.  After your initial high, you’ll be asleep at the wheel or, on a plane, dozing with your head on the shoulder of the stranger next to you. (I’ve only done that once – it wasn’t pretty).

A blend of fruit, and oatmeal or eggs with sautéed veggies, especially spinach, get my vote.  If you have access to a green smoothie, great!  If you’re driving, throw the Vitamix, Magic Bullet or NutriBullet in the back of the car and go for it.

If you skip breakfast, you will end up snacking heavily, stuffing yourself at lunch, and you won’t have the energy to function properly.  So there!

9.  Keep It Simple

Lobster Thermidor might sound delightful but it’s full of hidden fat and sodium.  By contrast, grilled lobster with salad will not contribute to junk in your trunk.  A piece of grilled fish, chicken or meat with a medley of vegetables is far better for you than a dish comprised of a bunch of ingredients as long as your arm.  A simply composed plate will have fewer calories and be easier to digest. The more complicated the recipe, the more room there is for hidden nasties and extra calories.

10.  Keep Your Regular Sleep Patterns

A good night’s sleep goes a long way in so many respects, not least in relation to fat burning.  If you don’t get enough sleep, you could find yourself reaching for fatty, sugary foods to help you through your energy slumps the next day. Not getting enough sleep also means that your metabolism won’t function properly and weight loss will be impaired. So, avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening; skip heavy, fatty foods at dinner; and pack your eye patch and ear plugs to drown out strange noises.  Bonne nuit!


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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.