The Traveller Toolkit for the Post Pandemic Flier
A conversation about the future of traveller health as the world opens up post pandemic is much needed. What can the business traveller expect in the way of assurances as they take to the road again? This is anybody's guess, however we can look at the data, sentiment and trends and see how to move from uncertainty to certainty so we can build back a sense of security and safety as we travel.
For context we have to acknowledge international travel played its part in helping spread the novel coronavirus across boarders faster than before. The 1918 Spanish Flu took 4 months to travel the globe, the Coronavirus took a month! Intentional or not our collective lack of immunity as travellers, as well as being in close proximity in a metal tube with less oxygen, was always going to put us at a disadvantage against a virus.
International travel as it is practiced up till now has simply been about getting from A to B as expediently as possible, health of the traveller be damned; a harsh assessment but when you look at the cases of burnout, jet lag and mental health challenges associated with the traveller lifestyle I think it is a fair one. The question now is how do we build resilience back for travellers and specifically for those who travel frequently on business?
Long before the pandemic hit the first iteration of what I am about to propose was discussed in my book titled, Farewell Jet Lag Cures from a Flight Attendant. In it I float the idea that the well prepared traveller has access to certain tools that enable them to stay healthy while travelling on business. This has now evolved into what I call a toolkit for the performance athlete traveller. A performance athlete traveller recognises frequent travel grinds health and vitality out of you and is prepared to make lifestyle driven shifts and accommodations to counter what the journey takes out of them in order to thrive.
The key is to build and maintain immunity at all costs. We can talk about sleep, diet, energy and nutrition as good habits to cultivate better immunity but there is another level available to us when we put intelligent technology in the mix. As human beings we are a constant stream of data which is open to being harnessed in real time to make our traveller life better. Good technology can help us do that if we allow it.
One of the effects the pandemic had on the practice of medicine, is the acceleration of Telemedicine as a regular part of the way medicine is practiced now. Telemedicine is independent of location, which can apply to business travellers. Partly it relies on gathering data and getting a real-time view of health statuses to plot a relevant course of action, also applicable to business travellers struggling with burnout, fatigue, jet lag and other ills of frequent travel. This model can help business travellers keep an eye on their health needs and plan or pace themselves accordingly.
An assumption often made is that a BUPA or similar healthcare insurance plan is all one needs to send business travellers on the road to fulfil a duty of care obligation. When there are options to monitor and prevent harm, taking remedial action instead is a poor substitute. We can't escape the fact that the wise use of technology is a great adjunct for frequent travellers, which if used appropriately give insights, informs travellers, engages them in the journey of their own wellbeing and benefits traveller and organisation alike.
Given the prohibitive costs of healthcare, this option is cost effective and potentially ticks every box the traveller and corporate entity could want addressed - wellbeing, engagement, community, gamification, self interest, profitability, creativity, and resilience to name a few. Just as astronauts don’t go into space without a spacesuit and the right equipment, there is no reason we should have business travellers dealing with fatigue, jet lag and burnout without having the right set of preventative tools at their disposal.
In my next few articles I am going to walk you through some of these tools and how they come to be useful in the context of keeping travellers healthy while on the road. We are going to look at some metrics any traveller can self monitor or get help with to become educated about how to maintain health while getting back on the road. It is my hope that travellers can take comfort that they are not left to the vagaries of the road on their next trip and can travel in the safe knowledge that they have tools to stay healthy and grow their vitality rather than have it beaten out of them by business travel!