Jayne McAllister

Travel Wellness Expert and Author

November 27, 2015
by Jayne
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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.

March 10, 2015
by Jayne
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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.

June 18, 2014
by Jayne
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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.

May 25, 2014
by Jayne
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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.

 

May 24, 2014
by Jayne
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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.