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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7 Ways to Make Your Conference Healthier

Frustrated colleagues playing at conference callI’m planning a conference in London later in the year (much more about that in due course). Given that I spend most of my life helping people stay healthy while they’re traveling, I want my event to reflect that. The last conference I attended was in the bowels of a huge property with room-less windows. We had soggy sandwiches in brown paper bags for lunch (the bags were delicious). Breakfast was cheap coffee, sugary muffins, and under ripe bananas. Thankfully we were on our own for dinner and had plenty of good options locally.

Being subjected to artificial light all day while being sustained by sugary foods has a profound effect on morale and energy levels. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are my tips for making conference experiences healthier, more comfortable and more productive.

  1. Make sure you have healthy dining options at every meal or break. The purpose is not to have delegates gnawing on granola for the sake of it, but to provide foods that will sustain and nourish them, meaning that mid-morning and afternoon energy slumps will be avoided. “Options” is the key word. Some folk will want their cookies and cakes. It’s about making sure that attendees aren’t obliged to eat one way.
  2. Bored business training at officeBook a room with windows. Many conference facilities are tucked away in basements and don’t have natural light. Being deprived of the opportunity to visually connect with the outdoors leads to low energy and morale. Even if artificial light is going to be used, having a room with a view of the outside world will make attendees more productive, less fatigued and more positive.
  3. Allow plenty of breaks. It’s unreasonable to expect delegates to sit for hours at a time and stay focused and attentive. Ninety minutes is the recommended maximum for continued input without a break. People need to get up and move around after sitting and listening for long periods so they can recharge and be ready to absorb information from the next session.
  4. Have stretch breaks. Sitting for several hours will lead to spinal compression and low energy. After coffee, tea, and lunch breaks, have someone lead 4 to 5 minutes of stretching so that attendees feel revitalized for the next session and more aware of their posture. Local yoga and Pilates studios will usually be glad to help out.
  5. Hydrate. Check what kind of water the property is prepared to offer during your event. Mineral water with its high electrolyte content is much better than tap or filtered water for cellular balance, energy levels and overall feelings of wellbeing. Make sure your contract with the venue includes an unlimited supply of mineral water.
  6. Offer opportunities for exercise. If delegates are staying overnight, make sure the property has a decent work out facility (or a nearby gym), swimming pool or safe jogging paths.
  7. Make sure the property is in a safe location, especially for female attendees. My pal Carolyn Pearson, founder of Maiden-voyage.com says it’s crucial to work with a female-friendly hotel so you can take the quality of accommodation and service for granted, leaving you free to focus on your program content and delegates.


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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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A Hotel Brand for Health Conscious Travelers? Enfin!

EVEN Hotels_Guest RoomI spend my life helping business travelers stay healthy on the road and much of that involves coming up with ways to make a hotel stay more congruent with our communal goals. From making sure there’s a fridge in the room, to stuffing healthy snacks into every possible orifice in hand and checked luggage, to pre-qualifying menu items from the hotel’s restaurants, to investigating work out options (Is the hotel gym an afterthought? Is there a yoga or Pilates studio nearby?  Is it safe to jog there on one’s own?), I do it all. It’s my life.

So imagine when I heard that InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced that they are introducing a new brand especially for health conscious travelers.  A hotel brand that has done my work for me and where I can confidently direct clients.  English girl happy dance was in order as I learned of the inception of EVEN Hotels.

We are talking hotels with state-of-the-art workout rooms that aren’t dark, dank, and squirreled away at the end of a corridor; substantiated health claims on menus, by which I mean people who know what they are doing have checked the ingredients and health claims rather than sticking a star on a menu item like pinning the tail on the donkey; ease of business transactions and connectivity to keep unnecessary stress at bay; and every little comfort and thoughtful touch to make sure you get a good night’s sleep.

I can’t give it all away, but I have the best way for you to find out all the details.  I first learned of EVEN Hotels a few months ago and I’ve been following their progress with interest. So much interest that I had the good fortune to connect with the brand team and have the pleasure of interviewing Adam Glickman, Head of EVEN Hotels, for the upcoming Healthy Travel Summit. Please join us to learn everything there is to know and more.  The Summit starts the week of September 9th, and registration is free. Click here to register.


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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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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.