Jetting off on a plane for a business meeting or a conference might seem glamorous, but the reality is that almost half of Australian business travellers aren’t doing much to avoid getting sick while travelling overseas, according to recent research.
The Travel Vaccines Study and Travel Health Report surveys by Sanofi Pasteur found that people travel for business on average twice a year and are away for 10.8 days, and 50 per cent of Australian travellers visit at-risk destinations such as South America or Southeast Asia.
Nearly half of employees leave travel health matters in the hands of their company when it comes to business travel. This means that to avoid getting sick while travelling you might need to take matters into your own hands. Here are five ways you can guard against illness and stave of the sniffles – or worse.
1. Be prepared
Planes can be a cesspool of infection and sickness, and who wants to get sick before they’ve even reached their destination? To avoid getting sick while travelling, make sure you pack hand sanitiser, disinfecting wipes, a light shawl or coat that could be used as a blanket, eye drops, an eye mask, a travel pillow, bandages and nasal spray to stay healthy en route to your destination.
When you’re in-flight, drink lots of water to stay hydrated, keep off the booze and make sure you stand and stretch regularly.
It’s really common for people to catch respiratory infections while travelling, such as coughs, colds and flus, so you might want to consider getting a flu vaccine in plenty of time before your trip.
2. Keep active
It’s a good idea to squeeze in 30 minutes of daily exercise while you’re away. You may be able to access your hotel gym or swimming pool or, if that’s not possible, discover the city on foot and go for a brisk walk. Other little things that make a difference include taking the stairs instead of using the lift, or going for a stroll around the airport instead of sitting down.
3. Research what precautions to take when eating overseas
Whether it’s being aware of how street food is cooked at a market stall or drinking bottled water instead of tap water, it’s a good idea to look into what food and drink to avoid when overseas.
After all, 49 per cent of Australian travellers believe they got sick as a result of something they ate or drank during their trip.
“The cuisines and flavours of different countries are often the best part of travelling. However, no matter how often you travel, or even if you are from the country you’re travelling to, there’s no guarantee you’re protected against contaminated food or water,” explains celebrity chef and frequent flyer Adam Liaw. “So before I travel overseas, I always speak to my GP about what precautions I should take.”
4. Stick to routine
While it may be tempting to squeeze in a snack here or an extra meal there, eat your meals in a regular pattern as you would at home – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t forget to pack a small snack so you don’t skip meals in case a meeting or workshop goes overtime.
5. Prevention is better than cure
According to the studies, 49 per cent of travellers go to at-risk destinations unvaccinated. What’s more, 36 per cent of employers did not suggest suggest vaccinations to employees travelling for work purposes, and only 41 per cent provided advice on how to stay safe while away.
Of course, whether or not you need a vaccine depends on where you’re travelling, the length of your stay and your medical history. Make an appointment to see a doctor before you trip who can advise you on what you need to do before you depart.