Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Graham's Struggle With Travel Fatigue

A road warrior is defined as someone who travels frequently for business.

I'm not fond of this term, but I suppose, by the above definition, I qualify for this designation. To me, road warrior sounds like a term that was coined for a newspaper or magazine article that just stuck around, such as the similarly overused word staycation. What I object to is that it makes business travelers sound like some sort of mercenaries that go from town to town in order fight in private wars or engage in underground activities.

The road warrior should be a tougher breed than I; wearing mismatched but well worn leather clothing and clutching a home made weapon as if stepping out of science fiction dystopian future. A true road warrior would think nothing of killing just to get through the day and eating only to survive.

Today's business travelers have it relatively easy. I've certainly never killed anyone to get by a roadside checkpoint, and my next meal has never really been that far off. Indeed, I don't know of anyone who could fit my vision of a road warrior.

While I am a frequent traveler, I don't always relish the travel, and I'm certainly not tough. I like to think that I can handle quite a bit of hardship while traveling while being a good sport about it, but there is only so much my body can take.

International trips tend to hit me the hardest. I think that it's being so far out of my own time zone that really takes a toll. While mentally I can make the adjustment, my body seems to lag behind. While my body adjusts to the new time, my defenses are lowered, and I tend to catch illnesses more easily. On my past 3 trips where I have changed more than 3 time zones, I've gotten sick every time.

There's nothing quite like jumping through all the hoops to get to a country like Russia and then being too sick to enjoy it. It's no way to travel.

Seeing as there's a pretty strong link between my international travel plans and becoming sick, I've decided that it's time to do something about it. Before my next international trip, I'm going to do what I can to prepare my body for the shock. Not being an expert in this area, I turned to the internet for possible solutions.

I checked in with my Twitter followers and received suggestions ranging from ingesting moldy bread to taking herbal supplements. Seeing that herbal supplements would only work for as long as I'm taking them (and some of them taste really bad), and that I'm not going to eat moldy bread, I decided to do a quick internet search for more options.

My search results were pretty grim, and they indicated that I am generally in poor shape, which I knew. Below are a few of the suggestions that I found, some of which I'm already doing and others in which I'm not inclined to partake:

Eliminate coffee intake
Eliminate refined sugar
Exercise more
Stay hydrated
Get a lot of sleep

On a normal day staying hydrated, drinking minimal coffee and getting sleep are not challenges, but on international travel days these goals become more difficult. It's no wonder that I'm more prone to illness while traveling out of the country.

I've known for a long time that making efforts in the above areas can make one healthier, but it looks like it's time for me to take them to heart. This week I'm starting to exercise more, and I hope that this will help me with my traveler fatigue problems as well as helping me have more energy at home.

As for eliminating coffee, I don't think that I'm going to do that any time soon. Coffee makes travel possible, and without it I'm pretty sure that the whole travel industry would fall apart. I would, however, like to cut back on my coffee consumption, but eliminating it outright isn't something that I'm seriously considering at the moment.

Some day I may be worthy of the title "road warrior", but for now I'll just settle for getting through an international trip without catching a cold. After I tackle that hurdle, I'll think about investing in some stylish dystopian leather.

I'm still formulating my plan for a more robust immune system so if you have any serious suggestions, let's have 'em.

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  1. Try Airborne. I learned about it a few years ago and it's been a staple of my travel kit since then. I take a dose the day before I travel, just before going on the plane, depending on the length of the trip I'll take one on the plane, then keep taking it for a day or so after I've landed. Since doing this, I've NEVER in 3+ years got sick again when travelling. :)

  2. Thanks Mous: I used to be a regular user of Airborne, but I tended to get sick even when I did use it, but I never used it the day before I traveled. Maybe that's the trick to it.

    While I do like the idea of doing more long term things to boost my immune system, a little jolt just before traveling couldn't hurt.

  3. Ha you're such an entertaining writer Graham! This post really hit home for me because I caught the flu right before heading home on my last trip to Virginia. As if being sick in bed is bad enough the only time I got to lie down was a couple hours on the floor of the airport. Here's to healthy travels for us in the future!

  4. Just got back yesterday to Virginia from Munich and I'm spending the day recovering. I do think eating light, avoiding caffeine, drinking plenty of water, and getting exercise helps a lot. Plus I take an antihistamine the morning of every flight and sometime a couple of Advil. All this seems to help, especially the exercise. Must be rotten to be stuck sitting through a business meeting all day and then have to fly!