Over the past weeks, I've received many questions and comments from travellers who are frustrated by how easy it is to abandon all healthy lifestyle choices when they're on the road.
It seems that otherwise active people suddenly lose all sense of control when they're away. How to avoid getting sick or acquiring some preventable disease is often part-and-parcel of the inquiries.
It's difficult to maintain discipline when mini-bars and restaurant meals are thrust upon us, encouraging us at every point to give in to temptation.
But there are dozens of websites loaded with great information for those of us who find it too easy to succumb to the comfort foods around us that we often use as a reward for the inconvenience we're enduring when out of our regular environment.
Two obvious bits of advice, equally applicable at home or abroad, are to avoid skipping breakfast and always stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. But remember that the water supply in many foreign countries is not of the quality we take for granted here, so carry bottled water with you at all times.
Other recommendations are perhaps more helpful.
Before you leave, do some research to locate health-food stores or other grocery outlets near your hotel so you can pick up healthy snack foods shortly after you arrive. This will help you avoid the dreaded mini-bar that is so convenient. And to ensure you avoid that temptation, refuse to take the mini-bar key as you check in.
Many experienced, health-conscious travellers pack a variety of snacks in their luggage or carry-on bags, knowing they're likely to be extra-hungry at the end of a long journey. A number of bloggers suggest taking some of the specialty supplements that are available on the market to ensure you're getting the proper vitamins and nutrients.
It's common for travellers, especially business people, to relax in the hotel bar after a day of work. There's nothing wrong with that, but many properties also provide happy-hour appetizers that may taste great, but are usually not that good for us. These should be avoided, as should the salted nuts that make us want to consume more beverages than we intended.
When going to restaurants, do some adavnce planning so you can go to ones that offer the kind of menu you should be eating, as opposed to just stopping in at the nearest fast-food outlet that may offer little in the way of healthy choices.
Some suggest always ordering a healthy salad at any restaurant you choose, before you make your main-course selection. After the salad, you may find that you'll choose more sensible and healthy menu items than you would otherwise have done.
While most hotel properties offer gyms, a really excellent suggestion is to use your spare time exploring your new surroundings on foot. Nowadays, you don't have to purchase a travel book to find unique walking paths in most cities. They're available online, with all sorts of interesting anecdotes about the region. This will provide the exercise you need while enhancing the travel experience. In major cities, it's often only a few blocks to the meeting or tourist site you're interested in visiting.
On a broader base, both the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel) and our own Canadian government site at (www.travel.gc.ca) offer excellent suggestions to keep travellers safe and healthy when they're outside the country. While both provide the usual pre-vaccination advice for all types of communicable diseases, they also remind us to pack properly, taking into account the changing weather conditions that may be encountered.
We're used to wearing a seatbelt when we drive in Canada, but do we buckle up every time we get into a foreign taxi? And do we avoid eating food from street vendors in countries where refrigeration may not be up to Canadian standards? Yes to both. You'll find a plethora of good tips like these on both of these websites, and they're worth visiting before you travel.
By preparing ourselves in advance we can enjoy our vacations or business trips much more, and come back home without regret or self-recrimination.
As travellers were calling agencies to make Grand Bahamas travel bookings over the past week, I'm sure they were quickly informed of my error about departure dates to Freeport, our newest non-stop destination from Winnipeg.
In fact, the duration of flights to the Grand Bahamas is scheduled to go until March 29 with Saturday departures. I had created confusion through some special introductory pricing the tour operator had offered for the first three flights. My apology to readers, as well as to those travel agents who may have questioned my intelligence, if not my sanity.
Forward your travel questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found on www.journeystravelgear.com or read Ron's travel blog at www.thattravelguy.ca