Less Stress, Healthier Travel: Tips and Strategies for Organizations

Business travel can be frantic – riddled with early mornings, late nights and non-stop meetings, all without the normal comforts and routines experienced at home. In fact, according to our national survey, over a third of business travelers (36%) believe that work-related travel makes them more stressed than normal. And it’s easy to see why. Using data gleaned from road warriors nationwide, our survey also revealed that business travel can induce some pretty unhealthy behaviors including:

  • Lack of physical activity: 54% report they are less likely to exercise on a work trip compared to when they are not traveling.
  • Poor nutrition: 44% say they are more likely to eat unhealthy foods during business travel.
  • Increased alcohol consumption: 16% say they drink (alcohol) more on business trips than when they’re at home.
  • Medication inconsistencies: 13% say they struggle to remember to take daily medications while traveling on business.
  • Poor planning: 27% consider how their health will be impacted by their different environment when traveling internationally.

According to On Call Chief Medical Officer, Dr. William Siegart, “These results are concerning, and it is up to travelers and their organizations to turn the trend around.” He continues to say, “Organizations have a duty of care to protect the health and safety of their travelers and to mitigate the risks of partaking in unhealthy travel habits. Likewise, travelers also have a responsibility, aka ‘duty of loyalty’ to refrain from behaviors that would be contrary to their organization’s best interests. This only further demonstrates the need for organizations to not only proactively set parameters and expectations for their travelers, but to continuously educate and enforce healthy travel best practices.”

To help get this process started, Dr. Siegart offers the following tips and advice for organizations that want to empower their traveling populations to make healthy, positive travel choices:

  • Plan Ahead: Take the time to educate those headed abroad regarding current travel health notices in their destinations that could affect their health and wellbeing. By taking the proper precautions, such as receiving any necessary vaccinations or preventive medications, travelers can set themselves up for a healthier trip.
  • Control Stress: Stress can lead to its own health issues, including headaches, gastrointestinal distress and chest pain. Luckily, there are simple ways to help reduce stress during travel. For example, when booking flights and accommodations, travelers should be encouraged to create a schedule that allows plenty of time to get from Point A to Point B. This can help eliminate the stress that comes with rushing from one place to the next.
  • Focus on Nutrition: One of the benefits of eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is that it helps prevent illnesses. Consider hosting a healthy eating seminar to educate travelers on how to make better dietary choices. Many not-for-profit health associations, hospitals, health care providers, and/or public health agencies provide onsite programs on healthy eating and weight management, as do local dietetics professionals. Lunch and learns, onsite cooking demos, and even group grocery store tours are also a great way to promote healthy behavioral modification and provide travelers with real-world advice that they can take with them during their trips.
  • Get Plenty of Sleep: Lack of sleep can make travelers drowsy, dizzy, and sluggish and most adults need at least 6-9 hours of sleep per night to effectively function and maintain physical and mental health. And while encouraging a good night’s sleep is important, it’s even more important to also help motivate travelers towards that goal. For example, does your travel policy permit reasonable departure and arrival times for flights? If jetlag is a concern, can travelers arrive a day or two early to acclimate? These are the types of things that may cost more money up front, but can have a positive impact over the long-term.
  • Stay in Routine: A disruption in someone’s regular schedule could cause an existing condition or illness to be exacerbated. If travelers are headed to multiple time zones, advise them to work with their doctors to create a medication dosing schedule ahead of time to avoid any confusion or potential missed doses. It’s also important that travelers stick to a routine similar to home. This isn’t just limited to medication, but also includes eating, drinking, and sleeping. This also includes exercise, as staying active can also reduce stress levels and give travelers the energy and stamina they need.
  • Share Information: To help reinforce these healthy travel behaviors, consider hosting a travel health workshop at least once a year. At this workshop, provide helpful reminders such as visiting doctors (or travel medicine specialists) at least eight weeks prior to travel, bringing extra supplies of medications/prescriptions in case of emergencies and/or delays, and packing a travel first aid kit for those times when a drugstore isn’t immediately accessible. Advice for combating other common travel health ailments such as jetlag and deep vein thrombosis could be shared, as well as actionable strategies for staying physically active during a trip.
  • Adapt Travel Policies: Consider making travel policies more adaptive to accommodate personal risk profiles, pre-existing conditions, and an individual’s overall health status. Foster an environment of mutual understanding and support that empowers travelers to make informed decisions about their itineraries sans the fear of causing disappointment or getting in trouble. This more individualized and customized approach to travel planning can help reduce trip-related stressors (and encourage healthy travel behaviors in the process!).


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holistic risk management? Contact us today.

 

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