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10 best business travel tips to stay healthy and productive on your business trips during pandemic

How do you stay healthy and productive on a business trip?

If you one to travel a lot for work or otherwise, first and foremost you want to make sure all that traveling doesn’t impact your health or performance. The most important thing the Covid-19 crisis has taught us now more than ever, is to prioritize which tasks or meetings need to actually be done in person rather than through online methods. We recognize that there are still times where travel is required, and for those times, especially with travel restrictions being loosened in many parts of the world, and travel resuming gradually, there are a few things you need to prepare for.

Want to learn more? Here are our 10 best business travel tips.

Why you should prioritize your wellbeing on business trips

First things first. Why should you prioritize your wellbeing on business trips?

Simple: Because if you travel often for work, your choices add up.

So while yes, that one steak or pizza feels justified when there aren’t any good options nearby, think about the long-term effects.

For example: According to Harvard Business Review, there’s a strong correlation between business travel and health risks. Traveling for work means higher stress levels, poorer performance, and a higher risk of health issues like obesity.

We see this in our own organization. Our consultants frequently travel for projects and client meetings. Because of this, we’ve taken a closer look at what we as a company can do when it comes to things like business travel.

In the end, this was why we launched our own health program, Alpin Healthy, and became the first WELL certified building in the Middle East (WELL promotes employee- focused buildings). In 2020, the International WELL Building Institute also launched a new rating system that addresses a post Covid-19 environment, and Alpin is proud to have been the first in the Middle East to achieve this WELL Health Safety Rating as well.

More than ever, the pandemic has emphasized the importance of taking the right measures to make sure to protect your health as well as the health of those around you.
So we’re promoting our employees’ wellbeing at the office. But what can be done to improve business trips?

Let’s look at our 10 best business travel tips for healthier work trips.

1. Simple ways to stay healthy on flights

Did you know that flights are full of harmful germs?

In fact, places like your tray table are often the germiest place on a flight.

So how do you avoid getting sick on flights?

Here are the best tips:

  • Before departure, be sure to check national and international travel recommendations such as the ones provided by the U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention, so that you can cooperate accordingly and be prepared to travel in the safest way possible. Check regional guidelines as well – for example, for those traveling from or in to the UAE, be sure to refer to the guidelines listed on the Official Government Portal of the UAE.
  • Use hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes to clean your seat (including armrests and seat belt buckle) and tray table.
  • Wear a respiratory mask at all times, and protective gloves if required, when in the airport as well as on board the flight. Bring your own personal protective equipment in case they are not provided for you.
  • Choose the window seat to avoid contact with people moving around in the plane (as more movement increases the risk that germs will spread).
  • Use your own pillow and blanket on longer flights.

The next step? Drink more water.

2. What’s the best way to improve your performance? Drink water.

One thing you can’t miss out on during your business trips? Drinking water. Staying hydrated is the most effective way to stay healthy and productive.

For example, some of the benefits of water are: Fluids carry nutrients to your cells, aid digestion, and stabilizes your heartbeat.

So, how much water should you drink every day? About 30-50 ounces or 1-1.5 liters throughout the day, according to Harvard Health. And note that when you’re traveling to a new climate, you might need to drink more water because you sweat differently in that climate.

3. Use mass transit in the right way (without getting sick)

If you travel to a bigger city, mass transit, cabs or a ride service like Uber, Lyft, or Careem might be the easiest transportation alternatives to get around.

At the same time, germs are all over places like subways that transport thousands of people every day.

While outdoor surfaces get sterilized by the sun’s UV rays, underground spaces don’t have that same natural protection.

To minimize the spread of diseases such as Covid-19, it is best to avoid public transport as much as possible, but if absolutely necessary then these are some things you can do:

  • Make sure to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing requirements from other passengers.
  • Use gloves when touching seats or poles. If you don’t have gloves with you, wrap your arm around the pole, instead of grabbing it with your hand.
  • Don’t touch your mouth and eyes before you’ve washed your hands.
  • And wash your hands as soon as possible.

The same goes for your cab or ride service. Sanitize and wash your hands immediately after your ride.

Next: Staying healthy in hotels.

4. Why hotel rooms aren’t as clean as you think

Think hotel rooms are germ-free? Think again. Many parts of hotel rooms don’t get cleaned on a regular basis.

For example: the remote control is something most guests touch, but chances are, it doesn’t get properly cleaned after every visit.

So how can you stay healthy during your stay?

Use these steps:

  • Bag the remote controls so you don’t touch it when using the TV or air conditioning system. In general, avoid too much contact with common touchpoints such as desks, alarm clocks, etc. 
  • When using necessary touchpoints such as elevator buttons, key cards, and door handles, be sure to have sanitizer and gloves handy.
  • Use slippers in your room. Your shoes are full of germs so you might want to minimize walking around with them in your room.
  • Don’t use the bedspread. Bedspreads need to get dry cleaned and most hotels will only clean them a few times a year. So roll it up and put it in a corner during your stay.
  • Wash glasses or cups before you drink from them.

That’s it- that’s how you minimize the risk of getting sick while staying at a hotel.

Next up: one of our top business travel tips… Your workout routine.

5. How to keep up your workout routine when traveling for business

One of the things our Alpin Healthy program encourages is to keep up a workout routine. But how do you make sure you stick to it while traveling?

After all, it’s easy to let your workout routine slip with irregular schedules, flights, and the stress of traveling.

At the same time, working out is one of the best ways to ensure that you stay both healthy and productive.

Think about it: exercise reduces stress and improves wellbeing, sleep quality, and energy.

You should get at least 150 minutes of exercise every week and get some form of physical activity done every day.

So how do you make sure you get as many benefits as possible from exercising when you’re traveling? As a rule of thumb, if your trip is over three days long, you should pack with you workout clothes and use the hotel gym (if allowed by the establishment, and take care to ensure that they are following safe distancing and sanitizing protocol) or go running in a nearby park.

6. The one thing to prioritize when you’re traveling? Healthy food.

What’s something that’s easy to overlook when you’re traveling? Healthy foods.

After all, it’s not always easy or convenient to get anything else than steak, pizza or other fast foods. But healthy nutrition is crucial for your health and wellbeing.

So instead of buying a sandwich on the go or snacking on chocolate, pack healthy snacks with you. Nuts are great for traveling and fruits can work for shorter trips.

And before you travel someplace new, do some quick research. Are there any places close to your hotel that sell green and healthy food? If you have a hard time finding anything, ask at the hotel reception for alternatives or any local home delivery apps that let you order healthy food.

Now, changing the way you eat is already huge.

But there’s something else we need to look at… Stress! Here’s how to deal with stress during your business trips.

7. How to reduce stress on your business trip

You know what? Stress is such a big problem for most business travelers.

It impacts your sleep, energy, and mood- all those things you need to be able to perform at your best level.

So how do you combat stress on the road? Here’s how:

#1. Stretch. Take breaks and stretch between meetings. Stretching gets your blood circulating. Remember to get up and walk around every 90 minutes. Ideally, you’ll want to take a break and think about something else than work for about 10-15 minutes. For example, read a book or take a short walk (even if it’s to the coffee machine!).

#2. Meditate. Meditate and practice mindfulness for 10 minutes every morning. If you need help clearing your mind, you can use an app like Headspace.

Meditating doesn’t have to be harder than sitting silently for a few minutes and breathing deeply. But it will impact your stress levels.

8. Stay active by walking as much as you can

Maybe you know just how great walking is for your health.

But it’s easy to choose the faster option when you’re traveling, right?

Taking a cab or a quick subway ride… But at the same time, you could get a lot of your daily exercise done if you move around on foot.

Plus, you keep productive and your performance improves.

Speaking of walking, there’s another thing you need to keep in mind.

Your routines.

That’s what we’ll look at next.

9. A great way to stay healthy while traveling? Stick to your normal routines.

Look: routines are great. They help you stay healthy, reduce stress levels, and sleep better. But when you travel, you often forget the routines you have at home.

After all, you might be in a different time zone, in a different climate and your schedule looks totally different from the one you have at home.

A big chunk of your day might be spent traveling or flying. So how do you keep up your normal routines?

Simple: Create a schedule and stick to it.

So you have set times for when you work, sleep, eat, and exercise. Preferably, this schedule follows your normal schedule. A good way to keep yourself accountable? Add your routines to your calendar and have an alarm go off so you can’t ignore it.

10. The best ways to make sure you get enough sleep

We’ve saved the best for last. After all, sleep is such an important health factor. That’s why you need to prioritize sleep as much as you can. So how much should you sleep?

This depends on you and what amount of sleep keeps you happy and productive. The National Sleep Foundation recommends between seven to nine hours of sleep for adults.

But sleep quality is equally important as the amount of sleep you get. You see, if your sleep quality is poor, you won’t get all the benefits of sleeping.

How do you improve your sleep quality? Take these steps:

  • Make sure your room is dark so that your brain isn’t tricked into thinking it’s day time.
  • Avoid screens (or consider using the Redshift software, which adjusts your screen light according to the time of the day).
  • Avoid coffee after 2PM in the afternoon so that caffeine doesn’t affect your sleep.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, a proven method is to get up, read or listen to calming music for about 15 minutes, and then go back to bed.

Over to you!

There you have it! These are our best business travel tips for staying healthy and productive.

Use this checklist whenever you’re traveling. You might just notice your stress levels go down and wellbeing go up.

Learn more about our Alpin Healthy program and how we work for a work culture that prioritizes wellbeing.

Download a copy of this article as a PDF.