4 Health Travel Apps We’d Like to See

January 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article in Forbes Magazine by Robert Szczerba pointed out some rather gaping holes in the travel and health app world. They all relate to dealing with medical emergencies while traveling abroad. This is one aspect of travel many people overlook; they don’t think that a sudden ailment or accident will come up as they daydream about their glorious trip to Italy they’re taking next summer.

Unfortunately, accidents do happen. Being struck down by a car or strep throat is no fun at any time, but especially if you’re in a foreign country where you don’t understand the customs or language.

Here are four useful apps Szczerba suggested and we’d like to see.

English: High View Chinese Medical Clinic

High View Chinese Medical Clinic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Find-A-Clinic could help you find the closest clinic or medical care facility that could help you with whatever medical situation you’re dealing with. It would even have a way to notify the facility you were on the way.

InsuranceAssure would interface with your insurance and let you know what is covered and what isn’t in real time instead of waiting several days. (This may take longer than the others, given that it isn’t always possible to get a straight answer from someone on the phone, but it would at least be a start.)

MedBox would guide you to find the nearest pharmacy that carries the over the counter or prescription drugs you need for the situation you find yourself in. We’re fairly close on this one, since you can use a barcode scanner to read the UPC code of the needed product. You can do that right now in the United States and a few other parts of the world, but you need to have the UPC code on hand.

HealthyFoodAnywhere can help you find the healthiest places to eat. This is useful for healthy eaters, of course, but it could also help those with health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease. The app could also be invaluable for people with food allergies or even people who choose to eat a specific type of diet, such as vegetarian.

Even if these apps are never developed, it’s a good idea to carry a list of your prescriptions, health problems, and any other key information a health care worker would need if you do become sick while traveling.

What health travel apps have you been using? What would you like to see someone create? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page or in the comments below.

Bring This, Not That: Prepared Dishes

November 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Food and the holidays are like salt and pepper. They go together naturally.

If your family expects you to make a blueberry pie every Thanksgiving, you probably want to oblige. But should you bake it at home and take it with you, or make it once you get there? It’s an easy question if you live in the same city, but what if you have to travel a long distance for the holidays?

Cranberry sauce & Gravy

Cranberry sauce & Gravy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re traveling by car, you can make everything ahead of time and put it into a carrying case or cooler. But if you’re flying, you may not want to cart a pie through airport security. Even though TSA’s website says “we’ve seen just about everything,” they also warn that a carry-on pie may be subject to additional screening.

In other words, make the food when you get there.

The TSA has a list of items you can’t carry onto the plane, including cranberry sauce, gravy, and soup. You could carry them on as long as they measured under 3.4 ounces, but that won’t put much food on the table.

You could always check-in the food items in question, but the containers could easily break during the baggage handling process of your flight. Cans or bottles could explode from the pressure, or a glass bottle could break from rough handling from a baggage handler, or when it lands onto the baggage claim carousel from the chute.

If you cook with special ingredients or have food allergies or dietary concerns that force you to eat carefully, weigh the pros and cons of packing or carrying these items. Usually your best bet is to buy the food items when you arrive at your destination.

Of course, it’s always possible you may be heading somewhere without many options, like a small town in the Midwest. In that case, consider ordering from a specialty food store or even Amazon. Or you could just box the items up and ship them yourself. Either way, your favorite foods and ingredients will be waiting for you when you arrive at your destination.

Have you ever shipped, carried, or checked food items for the holidays? How did you do it? Would you do it again or have you found a new method? Leave a comment or let us hear from you on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Allergy Food Items

January 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you or someone you know has a severe food allergy or dietary restriction, you know that dining away from home can be a nerve wracking experience. Depending on your allergy or dietary restriction, you may have a difficult time finding acceptable menu items. And if your allergic reaction is severe or life threatening, you’re putting a lot of trust in the people who are serving and cooking your food. Traveling with a food allergy brings an entirely new set of challenges and may require a lot of planning.

With this in mind, we posed the question: should individuals with food allergies or dietary restrictions bring their own food or simply improvise while on the road?

First and foremost, where are you visiting? Depending on where you’re traveling to, you may have a wide variety of allergy-free food items within reach. For example, if you’re visiting a large US city such as New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, you’ll probably find dozens of excellent restaurants that accommodate specific allergies or restrictions, including gluten-free bakeries, vegetarian restaurants, and so on.

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe (Photo credit: epSos.de)

In this case, you’ll definitely want to leave your personal food items at home and venture out to explore the many options available! On the flip side, if you’re visiting a small town, you may want to pack a few emergency food items. For example, someone who is gluten intolerant may want to pack a box of gluten free energy bars for backup in case the only convenient breakfast option available is a grain-heavy continental breakfast at your hotel.

A good rule of thumb: do your research before you go. Use a site like Yelp or an allergy specific site such as allergyeats.com to find restaurants that can accommodate your dietary needs.

Furthermore, if you’re visiting a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, make sure you know how to properly communicate your dietary needs in the local language, even if it means writing it down on a piece of paper and showing your waiter.

The final consensus? While you may want to bring a few allergy friendly backup items such as snack bars, your best bet is to leave your personal groceries at home, do some research and venture out and (safely) explore the local cuisine.

  • Understanding food allergy bullying (smartsign.com)
  • Food Allergy, Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease (thehealthrebel.com)
  • Infographic: Food Allergies and Children (simplysenia.com)

When In Rome … Tips For Traveling In Italy

July 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

I’ve had the good fortune of visiting Italy many times, and highly recommend touring this beautiful and historic land. And, “when in Rome” (or anywhere else in this spectacular country), do as the savvy travelers do.

First and foremost, you’ll want to sample — and savor — Italy’s legendary cuisine. Incredibly fresh, since preservatives are rarely used, the pasta is divine, the sauces are sumptuous, the cheeses are superb, and the wine, of course, is magnificent. Generally, restaurants are family owned and operated and make everything from scratch.

A 4x4 segment panorama of the Coliseum at dusk...

Image via Wikipedia

As you set out to experience these gourmet delights, remember that restaurants in Italy keep very rigid hours. Breakfast is usually served from 7:00 to 10:30 AM, lunch from 12:30 to 2:30 PM, and dinner from 7:30 to 10:00. So, if you’re dying for ossobuco alla milanese at 5:00, you’ll have to wait.

Banks and stores also observe very strict, and often limited, hours. It’s best to access ATMs for most banking needs, and not to put off visiting any shops you’re interested in. Be advised that some stores don’t allow patrons to try on clothing, and that returning or exchanging items is uncommon. Look for special street sales where local merchants bring their wares to the city. Great deals on high quality products.

A great way to experience Italy, and to interact with locals is to visit the smaller — and much less commercialized — towns. Many feature a Centro Città (city center) where the restaurants and shops are clustered, and the citizens congregate at night. As you dine in these cozy establishments, you’re treated like one of the family. Also, most locals walk or ride bicycles into the center of town. It is very refreshing to be in a city without automobile traffic and honking cars.

Trains are a reliable way to access these “non-touristy” locales, as are rental cars. Driving in Italy is relatively easy since you drive on the right side of the road. Just remember that the left lane on highways is used only for passing (violators can be ticketed, and will be honked at). This is very efficient system because it discourages the slow driver that hangs out in the passing lane.

Also, keep an eye out for pedestrians who walk across the road at busy intersections. The city streets tend to intersect at different angles because most are not grid-based, like the U.S. Pedestrians have a greater right-a-way, so look for both car traffic and pedestrians.

Italy is an incredible place to visit. Just learn a few key Italian phrases — and set off for a trip of a lifetime.

  • Rome offers visitors a diverse experience | British Airways – Travel Industry News (travelnews.britishairways.com)
  • Our first day in Italy – Tuscany, Italy (travelpod.com)

Tips For Traveling Healthy

December 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The last thing you want to do while traveling is get sick. Unfortunately, it’s easy to overexert yourself on the road, depleting your body’s natural defenses.

Plus, when you’re focused on the sights and sounds of a new destination, you often forego healthy practices such as getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, staying hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet.

Fear not, brave traveler. Here are some tips for staying healthy away from home:

Keep Your Hands Clean: Wash your hands often. And not only before eating, but after you’ve touched common items (like laptops, phones, iPods, etc.) which are breeding grounds for germs and viruses. Also use hand sanitizer and wet wipes regularly, especially if you’re unsure of the quality of the water.

Stay Hydrated: You not only expend more energy (which is dehydrating) when traveling, the airline’s pressurized cabins dry you out. Therefore, it’s critical that you drink enough water (bottled preferably) to replace the fluids your body is losing. Also, go easy on both alcohol and caffeinated drinks, which are diuretics and make you put out more than you take in.

Get Enough Rest: Despite the adrenaline rush, don’t ignore you body’s need to replenish itself with sleep. This can be difficult early in your trip due to jet lag (when you travel across multiple time zones, your body’s internal clock is not in sync with the destination time zone, making it difficult to sleep). Adapt to the local schedule immediately by eating meals and going to bed at the appropriate times.

Eat Properly: With the number of calories you burn while traveling, it’s important to get enough nutrients. But, be selective about what you consume, especially when traveling overseas.  Though the food you eat abroad isn’t necessarily unsafe, your body isn’t accustomed to it. This gastric unfamiliarity combined with the use of natural fertilizers abroad can lead to digestive difficulties.

Research your destination’s most popular restaurants through Trip Advisor, making sure to study the reader reviews closely. If praise for a given eatery is universal, chances are that international travelers aren’t getting sick from the entrees.

To minimize your risk of contracting any food-borne illnesses, be sure to:

  • Drink only bottled water, and avoid ice, unpasteurized milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Don’t eat raw or unpeeled foods. The foreign traveler’s rule of thumb is “Cook it, wash it, peel it, or forget it.”
  • Only eat condiments that come in sealed packages.
  • Order entrees “well done”, and send them back if they’re not served hot.
  • Use caution when ordering seafood, and steer clear of clams, mussels and oysters.

Don’t leave common sense at home when you travel. Your health depends on it.

Enjoying Food During International Travel

November 29, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the great joys of foreign travel is sampling the international cuisine — assuming you take the necessary precautions.

Though the foods you eat overseas aren’t necessarily unsafe, your body isn’t accustomed to them. This gastric unfamiliarity combined with the use of natural fertilizers abroad can lead to digestive difficulties.

So what’s an adventurous foodie in a foreign land to do?

Indulge intelligently. Enjoy the cuisine you travelled long and hard for, but use your head while filling your stomach.

First, research your destination’s most popular restaurants through www.tripadvisor.com, making sure to study the reader reviews closely. If praise for a given eatery is universal, chances are that most travelers aren’t getting sick.

Also, check the World Health Organization’s (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) websites for information on any outbreaks in the countries you are visiting, and plan accordingly.

Plus, maintain a healthy routine during your trip by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, staying hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet. Taking vitamins or other supplements is also recommended.

To minimize your risk of contracting any food-borne illnesses while abroad, be sure to:

  • Drink only bottled water, and avoid ice
  • Don’t eat raw or unpeeled foods. The foreign traveler’s rule of thumb is “Cook it, wash it, peel it, or forget it.”
  • Only eat condiments that come in sealed packages.
  • Order entrees “well done”, and send them back if they’re not served hot.
  • Use caution when ordering seafood, and steer clear of clams, mussels and oysters.
  • Avoid unpasteurized milk, cheese and yogurt.

By taking these simple precautions, you’re free to savor the exotic delicacies. Stride by the Americanized restaurants and find the local bistro offering the most authentic cuisine. Make sure you drink in moderation, however, since most foreign beers and wines are much stronger than domestics.

With a little planning and common sense, you’re in for a gourmet vacation of a lifetime.

We’d like to hear from you. Do you have any tips to share on enjoying food during international travel?