There are things about travel that can get under our skin both emotionally and physically. The watchword is to be prepared.
That advice comes from two experts, Barrie Greiff, a Harvard University psychiatrist, and Dr. Orlando Canizares, professor of clinical dermatology at New York University College of Medicine.Greiff was retained by Hyatt Hotels to come up with suggestions on how to cope with stress while traveling after a Hyatt survey revealed that business travelers have a "love-hate" relationship with their life on the road.
Most of the things that bugged the business traveler, the study revealed, concerned dissatisfaction with service from airlines, hotels and car rental companies; physical stress; and lack of control over one's schedule.
However, says Greiff, the emotional irritants can be coped with if travelers learn to anticipate and handle uncertainties and also possess a good sense of humor.
"If you don't already have one, develop a sense of humor and plan for things to go wrong. Remember, you're dealing with variables over which you have little or no control, such as delayed flights and bad weather," says Greiff.
Here are a few more of his tips to help take the stressful bumps out of business and vacation travel:
- Get involved in your trip. While a travel agent may book the flight and make hotel reservations, be sure you remember to check the city to which you're traveling for special concerts, plays and other events. Also keep a file on good friends, restaurants and local attractions in each city to which you travel and make plans that you can look forward to at the end of the day.
- Make yourself physically and emotionally as comfortable as possible.
- Bring along the romance novels and celebrity magazines if that's what it takes to relax before bed or on a long plane ride.
- If a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is what you enjoy at home after a long day, then order it.
- Don't forget the sweatpants and tennis shoes for working out in the hotel's health club or for simply making yourself comfortable in your room.
If you're on a business trip and have a few projects that keep getting pushed to the bottom of the "in" box, use your travel time to get it done. You might find projects that normally prove burdensome to be a welcome relief during lag time in an airport or free time between meetings.
While travel can take an emotional toll, especially on the business person, vacationers who are itching to get away this season may also get more than they bargained for.
Canizares reports that Lyme disease has now been discovered in more than 30 states and in Europe.
The disease, which first came to general notice in 1979 after an outbreak of arthritis-like illness among children in Lyme, Conn., is a bacterial infection transmitted by tiny ticks which burrow into the skin of humans and household pets. Now generally recognized as the No. 1 tick-borne scourge in North America, the disease is difficult to detect because it mimics common flu, arthritis and even multiple sclerosis.
The best way to avoid Lyme disease, said Canizares, is to take precautions against tick bites and use an insect repellent.
"Use strong insect repellent on clothing and exposed skin, and wear long pants tucked into socks and light-colored clothing so ticks can be easily spotted. If a tick is found, remove it with a pair of tweezers, grabbing the insect as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out, then treat the bite with antiseptic," he said.
Canizares said that a well-planned first aid kit along with a few simple precautions "can help ensure a vacation free of rashes, itches and other skin ailments."
Here are the items he suggested for a traveler's first aid kit:
Insect repellent with DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide) to be applied several times a day to prevent mosquito and insect bites.
Antibiotic ointment for treating scratches and infected insect bites.
Corticosteroid cream to reduce swelling and itching of rashes caused by insect bites or poisonous plants.
Tweezers to remove splinters, thorns and ticks.
Foot powder and antifungal cream for athletes foot or other mild fungal disorders especially in warm, humid climates.