We’ve all been there: you wake up on the first full day of your much-anticipated beach vacation with a sore throat and runny nose, you are on a business trip and arrive at your first meeting with a pounding head, or you touch down from your fun vacation and immediately get laid up with a cold.
Whether it’s for business or pleasure, we’re all traveling more than ever according to a global study by the World Tourism Organisation. Stateside, overseas travel has increased by over 170% in the last 20 years, thanks in part to the rise of travel planning online. Business travel spending is expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2022, which seems to be a reflection of the overall global economy. As a company, Blue Zones was founded by explorers, researchers, and journalists, and we all spend many days on the road.
For help with staying healthy on the road, we turned to John Ayo, a healthy travel expert and keynote speaker who is the author of Travel Balance: Where Healthy Travel Drives Greater Business Profitability. John spent 30+ years traveling around the world for IBM, and he has spoken to thousands of people in dozens of countries on how to stay sane and healthy while traveling. He also consults with businesses and organizations that want to keep their employees healthier and happier.
He shared his inside secrets to reducing stress on the road:
Blue Zones: How did you go from a corporate job to being a travel wellness guru?
John Ayo: I had a long, successful career at IBM. I led the team that closed the biggest software deal in the company’s history for over $1B. There was a period there that I was on the road a lot, wasn’t fulfilled, was constantly sick and in pain, and could never get any sleep. I had it all: sinus infections in Tokyo, digestive trouble in Mexico, and the flu in London. And then I still had to go and do my job.
I went to countless doctors and had so many scans and tests and no one could figure out what was going on. They mostly said it was in my head. I finally went to chiropractors, acupuncturists, and alternative therapists and started feeling better. I’m an engineer by trade, and my problem-solving brain kicked in. I was still working, but I went back to school to get a doctorate in naturopathy.
Towards the end of my time at IBM, I was leading a sales class in 26 countries and was constantly flying and on the road. But I had learned how to stay healthy and energized while traveling, which is why I wrote Travel Balance. It is incredible how much healthy travel affects productivity and the bottom line. That was of interest to businesses, of course, and that’s how I started consulting and speaking about travel wellness. I’m an engineer with an MBA and an ND (Doctorate in Naturopathy), so I can connect with corporate audiences.
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