Thursday, June 20, 2013

Staying Healthy While Traveling

I do a lot of traveling, especially flying, as part of my roles as a Professor and a Speaker.

I have also lived outside of the US, due to Fulbrights and Visiting Professorships (and was born in Canada). These experiences have been some of the richest and most rewarding ones in my career and life.

Having lived in Innsbruck, Austria  (on a Fulbright) with views of the Alps, as well as in Stockholm, Sweden and, now, in Gothenburg, Sweden, travel and living abroad stimulate ideas, enhance experiences that you can share with students, and provide you with cultural richness that you can't obtain by just staying in one place, no matter how comfortable you are. I have also spent time in Italy as a Fulbrighter.

This past week, I wrote about speaking in Athens, Greece and  in Gothenburg, Sweden and last night my family made it back to Amherst, Massachusetts after two legs of flying and a drive from Boston.

This morning, while checking the news in my office in Sweden, I was shocked to see that James Gandolfini, who starred as Tony Soprano, in the award-winning series, Sopranos, died at age 51 while on holiday in Rome, Italy.

The fabulous mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, was taken ill last Fall, while on a short vacation in Italy, and has endured multiple health issues since.

Last week, I was shocked to hear that Dr. Jesus Artalejo, the Editor of TOP, an operations research journal, had died (a heart attack is being suspected), while at a conference in Arizona. There are other examples of colleagues that have also passed away while at a conference in another country.

My tips for staying healthy while traveling and  spending extended periods overseas:

1. Try and practice social distancing from those who are coughing heavily or are like typhoid Mary -- this has been harder to do on packed flights. If all else fails, put on your face mask -- I have done this twice and it worked. I have also spent a lot of time in the back of planes on long flights where I have met some of the most fascinating people! Especially now with the MERS virus it is important to not pick up dangerous infections (remember SARS?).

2. Wash your hands often and use your hand sanitizer during travel and at your destination.

3. Exercise, exercise, exercise -- walking through airports and at your destination will help you to overcome jetlag and will go a long way in keeping you fit and healthy. I rarely sit at an airport -- we do enough of that on transoceanic flights.

4. Drink a lot of water every day.

5. Eat healthy, nutritious food and enjoy cuisines from around the world but pay attention to food safety.

6. And, if possible, get enough sleep -- sleep needs vary from person to person.

7. Take your vitamins.

8. Don't overexert yourself.

9. Make sure that you have the necessary vaccinations for the country that you are traveling to.

10. Ejoy the experiences while traveling and pace yourself appropriately!

More advice for health and travel can be found here.

Many of my colleagues will be heading to the EURO  Conference on Operations Research in Rome, Italy, so do take care of yourselves, wherever your travels may take you!