Healthy Attendance

Here are three reasons why it's important for business travelers to be more diligent about preserving their health:

Travel is more global. Diseases that may be more prevalent in one country now get on the plane and sit next to us. When we travel to a foreign country, we take inoculations, but we do not think about foreign germs on domestic flights.

We over-medicate. At the sign of every sniff or sneeze, we pop an over-the-counter remedy or ask the doctor for help. It solves our immediate problem, but the body builds up immunities, leaving us vulnerable for a more serious illness.

Conventional medicine may not work. Researchers are scrambling to invent new medicines to combat the immunities to antibiotics that viruses eventually build up.

What should you and your attendees do? Here are steps everyone can take to protect themselves and others:

Count the number of times you shake hands and the number of times you wash your hands. It is a scary ratio. At a trade show, you may shake literally hundreds of hands per day before you have a chance to wash your hands.

Be aware of the fact that germs travel in both directions. Wash your hands frequently. If soap, water, and clean towels are not available, use a hand sanitizer. The travel size can be tucked into pocket or purse and used discreetly on a show floor.

Use paper tissues and dispose of them properly.

Avoid those "sticky" places where germs grow, such as under the restaurant tabletop, door knobs, and the escalator handrail.

At a trade show, only accept food that is wrapped or freshly prepared. Which means you shouldn't dip your hand into the bowl of M&Ms, but accept the candy in a wrapper. At the buffet table, do not double-dip your cracker

into the veggie dip, and do spear the cheese cube.

Julia O'Connor is a speaker, author, consultant, and owner of Trade Show Training Inc., based in Richmond, VA. To contact her, visit or e-mail [email protected]