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Archive for the ‘Tips & Tricks’ Category

Bad weather can hit in time and travelers should prepare for the unexpected.

Bad weather can hit any time and travelers should prepare for the unexpected.

Have you been caught in turbulent weather: Possible tornadoes like the tragedy that happened in Moore Oklahoma; April blizzards in the Dakotas. So far it’s been anything but “spring-like.” To top it all off, experts are saying the upcoming hurricane season could be worse than last year. One scientist even said watch out for Super Storm Sandy 2.0!

As healthcare travelers, you very well could find yourself assigned to any of the states that repeatedly get battered by hurricanes. Or you could be on contract in one of the 45 states and U.S. territories labeled as “moderate to very high risk” of earthquakes. Remember the 5.8 quake that struck Washington, D.C. back in 2011?

So what if you happen to be assigned to an area that falls victim to Mother Nature’s whim; would you know how to react? Do you have the emergency supplies readied?

The following are a few essentials to keep on hand and advice on how to stay safe as recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready Campaign (ready.gov).

THE BASICS
• Extra prescription meds and eyeglasses along with first-aid supplies.
• Water, nonperishable food, and pet food for three days. Remember dietary requirements for both you and your animals. Tip: Avoid salty foods.
• Keep copies of pertinent documents—insurance policies, identification, medication list, allergy list, and bank accounts—in a waterproof container.
• Paper towels, plates, and plastic cups and utensils. Oh yeah, and a manual can opener so you can get to the food.
• Change of clothes, including cold/hot weather attire. Also, stash an extra blanket.
• Battery powered or hand-crank radio and cell phone charger. Don’t forget extra batteries.
• Refresh the kit every few months. Tip: When it’s time to change the clocks, it’s time to change supplies.

EARTHQUAKE EXPECTATIONS
• Keep a pair of durable shoes and a flashlight near your bed.
• Stay inside and find cover from falling objects.
• Ask the hospital where you are assigned about its earthquake response plan.
• If the shaking starts while you’re driving, park in a clear area. Avoid bridges, overpasses, ramps, and of course, power lines.
• Don’t expect to be one and done. Aftershocks can follow for days, even weeks, after the initial rattler. Make no mistake, aftershocks are still earthquakes and should be treated as such.

HURRICANE HOW-TOS
• Tune into a NOAA Weather Radio (noaawatch.gov) for real-time updates from the National Weather Service.
• Bring in outdoor plants or furniture that could be tossed around by winds.
• Turn the refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings. In the case of power outages, your food will stay colder longer.
• Fill up your gas tank.

TORNADO THOUGHTS
• Find a safe location, like a basement, storm cellar, interior room, or hallway.
• If in a car, keep your seatbelt on, duck below the windows, and cover your head.

Predicting Mother Nature’s next move is a fool’s game, but it never hurts to be prepared wherever you are assigned.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a freelance writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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BDesotelle1

Photo courtesy Bruce Desotelle

I love this time of year, when every weekend, stadium parking lots come alive with a sea of tailgaters. For example, Kansas City Chiefs’ fans are known to get the party started a few days early. Each football town has its own way to boost team spirit. As healthcare travelers, you have the opportunity to witness first-hand how different fans in different cities honor their teams’ tailgating traditions.

Regardless of where you attend the party while on assignment, there is a certain etiquette expected of all tailgaters. Here are a few of the basics for beginners.

• Fanfare: Unless you’re a diehard fan for your own team, invest in some local spirit gear, such as a cap or T-shirt, so you fit in with the crowd.

• Car show: Once on the scene, stroll the grounds to see how vehicles have been decked out and customized to display their owners’ over-the-top team loyalty. Most people will be happy to explain how they converted an old school bus into a football lounge on wheels.

• Personal chef: One of the best parts of tailgating is tasting regional favorites prepared on portable grills or creatively constructed cook tops. If you’re in Boston on assignment, you’ll find kettles of New England clam chowder at Gillette Stadium. Every grill at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., will be loaded with brats. Even if you’re not hosting the football fiesta, offer to contribute to the menu, maybe a side dish or dessert. Extra ice and drinks are always appreciated, too.

• Dress code: Better to be over-prepared than get caught in the rain or snow. Bring an umbrella, or gloves, scarf, and hat if you are on contract in a northern town. Here’s a thought: battery operated portable heater.

• Keep cool: Sure, the majority of people will be cheering for the local pigskin players, but there could be visiting fans, too. Good-natured teasing might be okay, but keep the “game talk” G-rated so everyone has a good time.

• Clean-up service: No matter if you’re attending the big game or watching the gridiron showdown on TVs set up in the parking lot (yes, that happens), don’t leave a mess behind. Bring along extra trash bags to pick up after your neighbors if necessary.

Whatever the final score, everyone wins when tailgating is done right.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a professional writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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Festive Shopping

Festive Shopping by Richard Collinson, on Flickr

Don’t hit the panic button just yet. There are still a few weeks to find presents for your loved ones. Thanks to online shopping, the process for healthcare travelers is so much easier than going to various stores, wrapping the items, sending them out to family and friends, and hoping they arrive in time for Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa.

However, anytime you buy something online, whether away on assignment or from the comfort of home, there are a few precautions to follow to protect your identity and hard-earned traveler’s salary. Here are a few tips from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (www.privacyrights.org).

1. Security Clearance: Before browsing through a site’s inventory, take a look at its Internet address. It should have “https://” at the beginning, a closed padlock, or an unbroken key, all of which signals a secured system. Sometimes, though, these indicators do not pop up until you on are the ordering page.

2. The Fine Print: How many times have you robotically clicked “agree” when prompted to read terms and conditions? No matter how laborious, it’s a good idea to read the privacy policy portion because it’s where you find out if the business shares your data with other organizations—not a good idea.

Also, see if the data, especially your credit card numbers, are stored as encrypted files. This means they are always scrambled and only authorized personnel can descramble them.

3. Contact Credentials: Look for the business’s physical mailing address and phone number, and give it a call to confirm everything’s legit.

4. Point of No Return? Check out how the retailer handles returns. Who pays for the shipping to send back the product? Do you get a refund on your credit card or only store credit?

5. Charge It: Never, ever—repeat: never, ever—give out checking account or debit card numbers. Also, never use a money transfer system like Western Union. These could give hackers direct access to your accounts, and most banks do not guarantee refunding unauthorized purchases. Credit card companies offer better protection.

Have you heard about single-use credit cards? Apparently they are virtual and generate a random account number in place of your actual number. One drawback is that they are store specific. Once you use it to buy from a website, that virtual card is forever linked to that merchant and cannot be used elsewhere. Inquire with your credit card company to see if it offers this service.

6. Hard Copies: Either save or print all receipts or email confirmations just in case.

Happy (Safe) Holiday Shopping!

 

Anne Baye Ericksen is a professional writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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Photo: miniyo73 via Flickr.com

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather walk to the nearest Starbucks and buy a coffee than pay for Wi-Fi in my hotel room. I feel like most people would do the same before spending $15 to check their email, right?

Either way, it’s no surprise that customers are increasing their Internet usage while staying in hotels. As travelers carry more devices, free Internet ranks “toward the top of guests’ want lists from hotels,” according to USA Today. People have gone from text- and voice-oriented devices to data-guzzling tech tools like the iPad that are all about graphics, pictures, and movies. And those customers are using more data per session, too.

Photo: sucelloleiloes via Flickr.com

The same article said that some hotels currently offering free Wi-Fi might begin to charge or offer a tiered type of service. For example, the Radisson Martinique in New York City charges guests a fee for a faster connection but also offers a slower connection for free, which is a great compromise. Owned by Carlson Hotels, the Radisson and many other hotel brands are beginning to monitor customer expectations and pursue different usage options.

Hotel brands currently providing free Wi-Fi in guest rooms include the following:

  • Aloft
  • Baymont Inn & Suites
  • Candlewood Suites
  • Comfort Inn
  • Country Inns & Suites by Carlson (in the Americas)
  • Courtyard by Marriott (North and Central America only)
  • Days Inn
  • Element
  • Fairfield Inn & SuitesFour Points by Sheraton
  • Hampton
  • Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham
  • Holiday Inn
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton
  • Howard Johnson
  • Hyatt Place
  • La Quinta Inns & Suites
  • Microtel Inn & Suites
  • Night
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott
  • Ramada
  • Residence Inn by Marriott
  • Staybridge Suites
  • Super 8
  • Travelodge
  • Wingate by Wyndham
  • Wyndham Garden Hotels

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For a limited time–June 21 through September 4, 2012–travelers can avoid Wi-Fi charges by booking a hotel stay through Room 77. The super fast hotel search engine allows consumers to compare hotel rates and select the amenities they value most, like complimentary Wi-Fi.

If the hotel you book doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi, Room 77 will reimburse you up to $15 per night to cover the expense.

For complete details, visit the Room 77 blog.

Jim Twardowski, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a travel writer based in Louisiana. His work has been featured in AAA Home & AwayGlobal Traveler, and QUEST magazines.

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Traveling can easily wreck your fitness routine. Changing time zones, fighting traffic, and arriving in an unfamiliar destination can leave you frustrated and tired.

But you shouldn’t use travel as an excuse to skip exercising.

Photo: Jim Twardowski

Forget the Magic Number

Corporate wellness expert Mark Verstegen is the founder of Core Performance, a company that educates professionals on staying fit while traveling. One of the major reasons travelers do not work out is lack of time.

Verstegen said,If people don’t have a full hour to train they end up skipping out on the workout altogether. Whether you have ten minutes or forty-five minutes, focus on getting active. A walk outside or twenty minutes on the treadmill will get your endorphins going and increase your energy levels to power you through long meetings or a redeye home. There is no ‘magic number’ for working out. Any time spent training will improve how you look, feel, and perform every day on the road.”

Know Before You Go

Before booking your hotel, call to discuss their fitness options. Do they have a swimming pool, work out center, or complimentary passes to a nearby gym? Ask what type of equipment or wellness programs are offered by the hotel.

Sheraton hotels offer 30-minute Video on Demand workouts that can be viewed anytime in the privacy of your room. Forgot your workout gear? No problem. Westin Hotels and Resorts will lend guests New Balance athletic shoes with disposable insoles and apparel for a nominal fee.

Go Outdoors

Get some exercise outside. Run or ride a bike at a nearby park or jogging trail. San Antonio’s bike sharing program, B-Cycle, has 14 downtown stations. Visitors can sign up online to use the easy and affordable service. At the Grand Hotel in Minneapolis, staff members serve as tour guides leading guests on “fun runs” past notable sights in the city.

Try something new like surfing or paddle boarding. The Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel’s “Fit for Fun” wellness program offers lessons. Ask your hotel concierge for suggestions on outdoor activities or contact the city’s Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Jim Twardowski, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a travel writer based in Louisiana. His work has been featured in AAA Home & AwayGlobal Traveler, and QUEST magazines.

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Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s just something special about summer. Even without a three-month break from work allowing us to be out and about until dinnertime every day like we did as kids, the warm weather still draws us outdoors every free moment — until the temperature spikes to near or above triple digits.

When the heat is on, it can be hard to keep your cool; however, you can feel relief in no time by following the tips and tricks below.

Your Environment

• Air things out. If you feel safe enough to sleep with the windows open, then let the night air cool things down. Come morning, shut the windows to keep the hot air out.

• Rearrange the room. When you move into a new apartment, make sure nothing is blocking the vents or registers that would prevent the air-conditioned air from circulating.

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

• Get fan-atic. Even if your housing has A/C, a ceiling fan or one on a base will distribute the chilled air, making things a bit more comfortable.

• Shut it down. Turn off appliances when not in use. Electronics like computers and printers generate heat that can warm your living space even in sleep mode. Avoid cranking up the oven, too. Instead, stick to the stovetop or microwave (or, even better, fire up your outdoor grill to cook dinner).

Yourself

• Check the clock. Avoid heavy duty exercising during the hottest time of the day, which is usually between 3:00 and 4:30 p.m. Instead, get moving early in the morning or wait until evening. On days when the temperature peaks at 100, or when the humidity is overbearing, it’s okay to skip your daily jog.

• Mist away. Keep a spray bottle of water in the fridge. Spritz away the heat while enjoying the sunshine or right after you come inside.

• Layer on the cool. Pop your body lotions in the refrigerator for a bit before using. This will feel particularly refreshing on hot, tired feet.

• Pass on the caffeine and alcohol. These types of beverages will dehydrate you rather than offer relief. Instead, sip on some ice water with a squeeze of lemon to quench your thirst. (In fact, research from Ohio State University shows that the citrus scent can even improve your mood.)

With this cool-down know-how on your side, you can still have fun in the sun!

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Anne Baye Ericksen is a professional writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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