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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Healthy Travel With Kids, Part 3 of 3

The final in my 3-part series on keeping kids fueled and fed healthily while on the road.

little girls inside car eating candy stickMost restaurants’ children’s menus feature food I wouldn’t give to a raccoon. Chicken nuggets morphed from unmentionable parts of the bird into unrecognizable parts of the bird . (I’ve never actually seen a nugget on a chicken…). Then there are hot dogs, the single worst meat we can feed ourselves or our loved ones, linked inextricably to cancer and a host of other diseases. Noodles and butter? Prepare for the sugar spike and dive, ensuing grumpiness and repeated hunger in no time at all.

So, as the hunger cries reach a crescendo in the back of the car, what are the best options to nurture your children (and yourself) and save your sanity?

When it’s time for your own caffeine fix, you can take advantage of Starbucks’ decent options for feeding the fam, as long as you lower your eyes from the pastry selection to the refrigerated shelves below. Check out the Bistro Boxes. The Protein box is an excellent choice with cage-free egg, white cheddar cheese, honey peanut spread, grapes , apple, and multi-grain muesli bread. That is a balanced selection of protein, and fiber-filled good carbs that will keep your cherub full and hopefully calm for quite some time.

The Chicken and Hummus bistro box also gets a big thumbs-up. In addition to its headlining ingredients – including recognizable chicken in the form of grilled breast strips – it has cucumber, grape tomatoes and wheat pita.

Starbucks recently launched its Evolution Harvest brand of healthy snacks, which includes snack bars and trail mixes in a variety of tasty flavors. Other offerings include Blueberry Pomegranate twists, Gourmet Popcorn and organic, low-fat milks in kid portion containers.

When little stomachs are signalling that it’s time to pull off the road, check the Chipotle app for the nearest location. Unlike most fast-food restaurants, Chipotle’s meats are claimed to be naturally raised; they source their vegetables locally and organic whenever possible; and it’s really easy to find the right mix of tasty and healthy.

The small quesadillas come with a fiber-filled side of rice and beans that will keep little ones (and grown-ups) full for hours. But the best kid-friendly item of all is the build-your-own Taco Kit. Kids do so much better with food when they’re involved in its preparation. The taco kit keeps them occupied and satiated all at once. It’s served on a tray for easy building, but a few wipes might be in order too.

 


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Healthy Family Travel, Part 2 of 3

Kendra Cubs Game

Kendra Thornton and her beautiful family.

Continuing my 3-part series of how to keep the entire family healthy during vacations, today the lovely Kendra Thornton takes the wheel. Kendra is mother to three beautiful children . Before being promoted to the position of full time mom, she was the Director of Communications at Orbitz. Kendra lives in Chicago where her family is her number one priority in everyday life.

When my family and I travel on vacation, I do all that I can to ensure that we stay fit. This can be challenging at times but our combined efforts to stay healthy on the road, pay off. We stay fit, look great and have a ton of fun in the process. Here are my top 5 tips for keeping the whole family in the best possible shape through the vacation season.

1. Beat the Buffet

Buffets are just part of the temptation on vacation, laden as they usually are with delicious, caloric and unhealthy fare. The secret is to take the “all you can eat” out of buffet and fill your plates only once to reduce the number of calories you consume. Be sure to include lots of salad and vegetables on your plate to “crowd out” the less healthy options, then add small amounts of the items that you absolutely have to have.

2. Dodge Dehydration

It can be easy to get dehydrated if you’re taking long flights or trying to avoid too many pit stops while driving. Be mindful of this and make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trips. Water bottles with built-in purifiers, such as Bobble Bottles, are a godsend. They are easy to carry and save a fortune on bottled water because they can be filled with tap water. Make sure you’re refilling them regularly when visiting attractions or making excursions in the heat.

3. Take to the Water

Being on the water is great fun for all of the family. Try to rent a watercraft when the opportunity presents itself. A rowboat, canoe or paddleboat gives you the chance to use muscles and burn calories while you are out and about. This enables you to have a workout while having fun at the same time. Furthermore, working out in this environment enables you to enjoy some great bonding while you are on vacation.

4. Play Together

Playing outdoor games together as a family is a great way to have fun and stay active. Pick games that are suitable for all age groups, such as shuffleboard, badminton and horseshoes . Volleyball, baseball and football won’t have universal appeal. Our latest favorite is Nerf balls while we are on the beach. Nerf balls are adaptable, durable and we even use them to play fetch to tire out our dog. They truly keep the whole family active! (Note- avoid the foam balls. See nerf.hasbro.com for more information).

5. Keep A Routine

Keeping a routine is important for any family, and it’s especially true when on the road. Finding a hotel with a well-appointed gym can help maintain your routine from home. I was able to book a fabulous hotel with a great gym for our recent trip to Orlando. With so many places to stay however, the process can be daunting. Sites like Gogobot help as you can read user reviews. Whether we are traveling or at home, there are healthy snacks and activities. This type of routine is perfect for keeping us fit and healthy wherever we go.

 


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Healthy Travel with Kids, Part 1 of 3

Two kids is going by car without parents. Girl eats candy, boy dWhile my focus is usually business travel wellness, there are times when the most hardened of road warriors are faced with the thought of a trip that terrifies them – vacationing with the family, especially road trips. This is when the perks of solo travel routines cede to cries of “are we there yet?” “I need to go potty” and, worse yet, “I’m huuuuuuungry!” This week I’m partnering with Kendra Thornton to bring you a series of three blogs about keeping the family healthy and happy during summer travels.

The worst thing you can do is present restless children with sugar ridden snacks to keep them happy on the road. Conversely, packing up a family, stuffing them into a car and leaving more or less on time is challenging enough in itself. Wrapping your head around healthy, practical and tasty snacks is another matter.

Worry not, the following suggestions will tax neither your time nor your sanity. All items are store-bought, delicious and high in fiber, releasing energy steadily to avoid the sugar rushes that keep kids bouncing up and down in the back of the car.

  • Individual pots of hummus with baby carrots and celery sticks to dip. If the kids won’t eat veggies, here are a couple of healthy chips and cracker ideas:
  • Late July Organic Snacks (www.latejuly.com) has an enticing range of multi-grain snack chips, including sweet potato and “Sub Lime.” Their Mini Sandwich Crackers and Mini Sandwich Cookies are good in a pinch too.
  • Blue Diamond’s Nut-Thins are handy for anyone who’s avoiding gluten.   These nut and rice cracker snacks come in several flavors including sea salt, almond, hazelnut and pecan.
  • Fresh fruit should always be on hand instead of candy. Little pots of berries, bananas and apples are good bets. Peeling mangoes or even oranges in the back of the car might not be so appealing.
  • For the younger kids, visit www.plumorganics.com for a great selection of snacks, including the Jammy Sammy Blueberry and Oatmeal, and Fruit and Veggie Mushy Blueberry Blitz. The company prides itself on using ingredients that are not only organic, but also free of genetically modified organisms.
  • Trail mix is another good substitute for candy. If you want to make your own, mix ½ cup almonds, ½ cup pistachios, ½ cup dried blueberries, ½ cup coconut flakes and ¼ cup raw chocolate nibs.
  • Use bottles of drinking water as ice blocks for your cooler so there’s always something to drink. Keep away from juice and soda as much as possible because of the added sugar.