6 easy ways to avoid dehydration when travelling on business

When travelling on business it is essential to avoid dehydration if you want to be at your most effective.

Travelling can interrupt your usual daily routine, making it less likely that you will consume the same quantities of fluids and eat the same foods as you would normally when in the office or at home. Even the mildest form of dehydration can have a disastrous effect on your performance. Greater than one percent loss of body fluid can result in fatigue, lethargy, irritability, poorer cognitive performance, headaches, lightheadedness, general malaise and even constipation adding to a feeling of discomfort.

If you are travelling long haul or driving in a hot climate, then you will need to be extra careful to consume sufficient fluids. The air conditioning in a plane is usually very dry, so travelling long haul you will lose more water through your lungs and skin than normal. Consuming a cup (200 ‚Äď 250 mls) every hour should be sufficient to replace any extra fluid loss. You could apply the same rule if you are travelling on air-conditioned buses or trains.

When travelling to a hot climate on business, you should consider consuming more, and if you have recently had the dreaded travel tummy bug, then you might need to consider consulting with a pharmacist or medical staff on the use of electrolytic solutions.

You may feel that consuming sufficient fluids is easier said than done, particularly when on the run to meet tight travel arrangements, but it can be made to fit in easily with your travel routine and fluid availability.

So here are 6 great ways of ensuring you are adequately hydrated when travelling without a lot of fuss.

1.  Prepare before you start out.

mineral waterDon’t start your travel already thirsty as this is a sign you may already be deficient in fluids. Make sure the day before you travel you have had plenty to drink. You will be able to tell by the colour of your urine the night before if you need to consume more before going to bed. If your urine is darker than a pale tint of yellow, then consume a cup of a non-alcoholic drink before going to bed.

Overnight, while you are asleep, your body is still working and you will continue to excrete water through your lungs when you breathe out. So make sure you have a drink as soon as you get up in the morning before setting out on your journey. ¬†The same rule applies ‚Äď check the colour of your urine when you first get up. If it is darker than a pale tint of yellow, then you definitely need to have a drink with your breakfast/before leaving.

2.  En route to the train station/airport or in the car

Don’t forget to take a bottle of water with you when you are driving or on route to the airport/train station. Sipping little and often is far more effective than taking a huge amount in one go. If you aren’t in the routine of grabbing a bottle just before you leave, then make a note to put a bottle in your handheld luggage when you pack.

3.  Eat foods high in water

berries and yoghurt iStock_000009526964_SmallNot all the fluid we consume comes from what we drink. On average, just under a litre will come from the food we eat. So remember to choose foods with high water content whenever possible. This could include your favourite fruit, yoghurt, salads, spaghetti, rice, soups, fish, sauces and even desserts such as ice-cream or sorbet. If you are unsure these types of foods will be provided when on board, then take an apple or pick up a fruit bowl in the terminal before departure.

4.  Stock up before you board

hot coffee iStock_000048260554_Small

More and more terminals are offering a greater selection of drinks and food, both pre and post-security.

If you are travelling by train you can take a full bottle of water through security when you board the train. Generally, water is less expensive prior to security than post-security.

If you are travelling by plane, then many airports will offer a range of outlets after security which sell bottles of water. Some airports will have water fountains conveniently located near the departure lounge toilets which you can use to fill up an empty bottle. Others may also have a row of water bottles which are available when you donate some money.

5.  Take what is offered!

All drinks provide fluid. So if the airline or train server offers you a juice, tea or coffee, then use this as an opportunity to keep hydrated. Contrary to belief, the diuretic effect of caffeine when in tea or mild coffee is insignificant. It’s better to take what is offered than to go without the fear of going to the toilet more often. In reality, you will be excreting more fluid through your lungs and this will help counteract the need to go more often.

6.  Avoid alcohol and high salt foods

There is always an exception. Unfortunately, alcohol is one drink best to avoid. Alcohol does have a significant diuretic effect and may cause dehydration quicker than if avoided.  If you do consume the odd glass, then you should consider consuming more non-alcoholic drinks to avoid losing essential body fluids, and this will eventually mean you will need to go to the toilet more. So think before you drink any alcoholic beverages.

Red wine pouring

If you consume more sodium than your body needs or loses, then your body will need to regulate the concentration in your body.  Your kidneys will excrete water along with the excess sodium.  So it is better to avoid foods high in salt than it is to try and consume even more fluid!

We all know that foods high in salt include salted nuts and crisps, but some airlines are now also offering boxed snack options to purchase, such as Amazing Gourmet Snackbox (Ryanair), Feel Good Snacking (EasyJet) and The Little Tasty Snackbox (Flybe). Not only are many of the items in these snack boxes high in salt, but they are also low in water (such as crackers, olives, pate spread and savoury snack packets) and in total have a higher energy content normally recommended for a snack (most being 500 calories per box).  This makes them less healthy compared to other options available onboard.  Thus, they should be avoided as with other high salt snacks, particularly if the business person has high blood pressure or might be at risk of DVT.

There are many other ways to encourage yourself to consume fluids when travelling. Please feel free to share any tips you may have, or to mention airports which supply water at low cost or free of charge. We do our best to get around as many airports as possible but would welcome any mention you might be able to provide to encourage other airports to do the same.

© 2015 Executive Travel Vitality


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Kathy Lewis, R.Nutr, BCApSc, MSc, MBA,
Author: Kathy Lewis, R.Nutr, BCApSc, MSc, MBA,
Kathy Lewis, Consultancy Director, enjoys a multidisciplinary career based on a portfolio of achievement.  Kathy is a Management Consultant for Executive Travel Wellbeing and Stress, Health Promotion Specialist, Consultant Nutritionist (Registered Nutritionist and World Public Health Nutritionist) and a Chartered Marketer with over 25 years of experience.   Her specialist areas include executive stress and wellbeing (including jet-lag and travel wellness),  travel nutrition, travel policies, corporate vitality, employee engagement, marketing and internal communications. Kathy holds several relevant degrees, Masters in Applied Psychology (MSc) with distinction for her research in Executive stress and maladaptive coping behaviours looking specifically at clinical work-based stress and the impact on healthy lifestyles, Masters in Business Administration (MBA), with distinctions achieved in Management Accounts, Statistics and Project Management, completed with a research-based dissertation in the marketing of healthy options in catering establishments, and a Bachelor degree in Nutrition and Food Science.Over the last 25 years, Kathy has worked as a consultant and advised in various industries, from travel, health and food to financial services and telecommunications, on nutrition, executive wellbeing, workplace health, change management, internal communications and employee engagement. She has worked with a variety of clients across local government, NHS, educational institutes, NGO’s, national and multinational companies. As a Management Consultant (post-MBA) Kathy was required to travel to several locations each week and in 2002 began her masters in Applied Psychology (& Health Promotion) as a result of observing the stress in senior managers.  She was awarded a distinction for both her research on work-related stress and maladaptive behaviours and her course work.  Prior to this, Kathy spent many years working with catering establishments to provide healthy options, and prior to this working in diet and fitness centres, following her degree in Human Nutrition and Food Science in 1989.   Combining all areas of experience and expertise was the obvious way forward, and subsequently founded the concept of business travel vitality and wellbeing. Kathy is a former Consulting Editor for Readers Digest Association Inc (USA) and Readers’ Digest UK (Vivat), as well as the former founding Non-Executive Editor for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Food, Drink and Agriculture group. As an author, she has written a number of publications and a variety of articles in consumer publications and professional journals, with guest media appearances on a number of radio shows, including the BBC, London and regional radio.  She enjoys public speaking on a range of topics and is a regular speaker at professional events. Kathy is also the Vice Chair of The Caroline Walker Trust, Founder of the International Forum for Health Promotion and Education, a board advisor for the Tessa Sanderson Foundation and Academy, the Vice-Chair/former Chair for the Financial Services Board at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, former Trustee/Non-Executive Director for the Association of MBA’s (where she chaired the Governance Committee and was a member of the HR Committee and Strategic Working Party), former Honorary Secretary for the Institute of Health Promotion and Education, a founding Council Member of the Association for Nutrition. Kathy was also a committee member for the Food, Drink and Agriculture group at the Chartered Insitute of Marketing and a current Non-Executive Director at NZ Engineering. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Association of MBAs, Institute for Travel Management, Association for Woman Travel Executives, Nutrition Society, SENSE, World Public Health Nutrition Association, Association for Nutrition (UK) and International Travel Writers Alliance.  She is a former member of the Institute Institute of Directors, Royal Society of Arts and Institute of Health Promotion and Education.

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