Low energy need not accompany travel any more than going to a job. The over-complained symptoms of headache, nausea and compromised mental skills sour too many vacations and shouldn’t undermine business efficiency. There is no airborne infectious agent, only a compromised health that could, and often does, allow a secondary condition such as a cold to take hold.
Prevention is the standard treatment, including being rested before travel, being fit, drinking liquids before departure, and relaxing. After landing, or alighting from a boxcar, the conventional treatments are symptomatic for nausea, headaches, etc. with a possible alcoholic or energy drink, or tranquilizer. Good sleep during travel is essential, as is proper food and continued liquids.
Crossing repeated time zones provokes various strategies. Some travelers choose a flight that arrives at the hour that begins the normal workday; or, alternatively, arrives at the usual bedtime hour and immediately go to sleep. A further option is to arrive for an important meeting a couple days early to prepare by relaxing. Finally, some prefer to reset their body clocks several days before leaving home by developing a sleep-wake cycle similar to the destination clock hours.
All this is elementary to the modern barnstormer, but I may add a few nuances after having crossed by camel, foot, thumb and Jeepney, as well as conventional jet, thousands of time zones.
Arrive hours early at the airport and kick back as prelude. The distraction of rushed passengers soothes for an hour, and then read a cliffhanger book. The amenities of flying business or first class are efficacious, if affordable. You may visit the executive lounge with computers and manners, or use the airport gym and showers. Moreover, Victor Navorski taught us while trapped in ‘The Terminal’ that there’s plenty to do. Once. after a month on a 13-country inquiry for a speculator, I became dull, and the overnight reports suffered; however, on upgrading the tickets to business class and by following the ensuing tips, sharpened in a couple days and the sponsor benefited.
I divide traveler’s syndrome into two categories: short and long term. The short occurs in the first couple days of a vacationer’s two-week holiday or businessman’s protracted swing. The causes are the myriad stresses of haste, schedule changes and crossing time zones. The long-term condition comes weeks or months into a tour due to being intense for so long, hence is more neurological. The preventions and treatments differ accordingly, as follows.
For vacationers and short-term businessmen, get to the terminal early, be in shape when you step on the first flight, and block an hour or more a day of exercise during the trip to quash symptoms. Physical fitness is directly proportional to resistance to Traveler fatigue. Liquid intake should increase with miles traveled, to your limit. Take your own fluids into the airport for the wait, and once past security buy more to sip during the flight without nagging the flight attendants. (I carry a trucker’s boot- small bottle- in my suit coat for frequent urinations.) I also pack a first meal in case the flight, train or bus is delayed. Some authorities advise eating less to beat traveler’s malaise, but I disagree and eat more as long as there are extra fluids. Finally, the “redeye” or night trip is favored to sleep during transport, and awake fresh with eyeshades and earplugs as if never having moved.
Long-term educational travel of six to eighteen months is my strong suit, and this anecdote finds me in the Sumatra jungle across from a few thousands curious human-like orangutans. My round-the-world ticket peers- nearly all European- are going ape on Skype to touch familiar bases. I may ask for their Email addresses to quiet them. On other journeys over the decades, I’ve witnessed them rave and cry without knowing why and, admittedly, as a greenhorn I weathered a couple bouts before gaining insight.
Somehow, the CNS is liable in world travel (probably from chronic amplified visual traffic and inner ear imbalance). I tell journeyers to force themselves monthly to stay in one place for 4-7 days in proportion to their disturbance; I’ve been here for two weeks after three brakeless, reckless months on the road. The best Shangri Las are white sand beaches scattered around the globe, or dense jungles like this one with fresh fruit on the trees and hiking trails. After three decades of nearly constant travel to a hundred countries, the longest swing was 18 months through Africa, South America and the South Pacific where I learned that traveler’s illness mitigates the longer the trip, as long as the rest breaks are observed.
The best tip to your better travel health is to pack a pair of running shoes for sightseeing, and use them at any speed.