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Business Travel

Photo: Business woman sleeping on a planeStay Safe and Healthy on a Business Trip

In 2012, an estimated 5.1 million US residents traveled overseas for business. With the increasingly global economy, this number is expected to increase. Because of the nature of the trip, business travelers may face different health risks than do leisure travelers. Find out about some of the risks of business travel and what you can do to protect yourself.

"Smithers, I need you in Quito by Thursday morning."
You don't always get much advance notice before a business trip. CDC recommends seeing a doctor 4–6 weeks before a trip, but if you don't have that much time, even a last-minute visit can be useful. Some vaccines can be given on shortened schedules or may offer partial protection, even if you don't have time for all the doses. You can also talk to your doctor about health risks at your destination and what you can do to stay healthy (not all diseases can be prevented with vaccines). Visit CDC's travel destinations page for more specific information on your destination.

You might be frantically trying to pick up your suit from the cleaner and get someone to feed the dog, but while you're rushing around, don't forget to pack a travel health kit. Your kit should include first-aid supplies, any prescription medicines you take, and over-the-counter medicine for diarrhea. Pack some latex condoms in your kit as well, since sexually transmitted diseases may be common where you're going.

"You'll take the red-eye and go straight to an 8 am meeting."
Leisure travelers may have time to be able to adjust to jet lag naturally, but business travelers often have to hit the ground running. If you have time, for a few days before you leave, try to shift your sleep cycle by a couple of hours earlier or later (depending on where you're going). Stay hydrated while you're traveling, and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Try to sleep on long flights; if you have trouble sleeping on planes, you might want to pack a mild sedative in your carry-on luggage.

Photo: Business man reading on a plane"This contract is worth millions to the company, so don't mess it up."
Business travelers are frequently under a lot of work-related stress, in addition to the stress of traveling. To minimize the negative health effects of stress, eat healthful meals, exercise regularly, avoid alcohol, and get a good night's rest. On longer trips, to maintain your mental health, stay in regular contact with your friends and family at home.

"Good job, Smithers. There's a promotion in your future."
Congratulations! You closed the deal, and now it's time to celebrate. Your hosts may want to take you out to toast your new business relationship, but be careful about drinking too much—alcoholic drinks in some countries can be stronger than you expect. And in developing countries, be careful about what you eat and drink. Bottled water and food that is cooked and served hot are generally safe. Be careful about tap water, ice, and raw fruits and vegetables, or you may end up spending much of the return flight in the airplane bathroom.

Business travel may not be all about fun and games, but there's no reason it should make you sick.

More Information

  • Page last reviewed: June 30, 2014
  • Page last updated: June 30, 2014
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
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