Healthy Spa Travel Becoming A Popular Option

spa travel

Not all that long ago, ask just about any travel agent about “Spa Travel” and they would probably not have known what you were talking about. Hotels have had spas and nicely equipped exercise centers for decades. Cruise lines promote spa treatments on ships at sea almost as much as shore excursions. Chains of fitness centers around the planet have had a focus on health for a while. But the arrival of spa-focused travel is an entirely different animal and one that looks like it will be around for quite some time.

Not really fitting in any particular category, spa travel can combine adventure, budget, wilderness and even air travel to make a new lifestyle-oriented option that can be an excellent choice for people of all ages.

A recent survey found that travelers “are now more interested in traveling to spas specifically for programs like stress-reduction, fitness and weight loss,” notes Susie Ellis, president of SpaFinder Wellness, a service that connects those seeking a healthy lifestyle with its worldwide network of wellness providers in a MySanAntonio report.Just how popular is spa travel? Agents surveyed reported that spa travel bookings increased 37 percent in 2011, a “healthy” growth in and of itself. But that number nearly doubled for 2012 with agents reporting a 68 percent growth in the number of clients choosing spa travel last year.

Better news: spa travel can be a real value-oriented choice with many agents reporting discount pricing on spa vacations. If the idea of centering travel on spa services sounds like something for older travelers, think again. The 26-45 age group is now most likely to book spa vacations. Another Hot spa travel destination? Mexico. Recovering from drug lord-induced bad press, this destination has some of the best deals around.

“The results are a clear indication that more travelers are deciding they simply can’t afford exhausting, unhealthy vacations,” concluded Ellis.

But what is spa-focused travel?

The bloggers at Traveling Mamas inspire women to explore the world via vacations with the kids, girlfriend getaways or romantic escapes. One option to make that happen is a spa vacation as we see in this video– in addition to their library of information – on the topic.




[Photo credit - Travelingmamas]

Gadling Gear Review: SteriPEN Ultra Water Purifier

The SteriPEN Ultra water purification systemNothing ruins a great travel experience more quickly than getting sick while visiting some remote region the world. One of the best ways to avoid those kinds of hazards is to be very careful about what you eat and avoid drinking water that isn’t clean. But such water sources aren’t always easy to find or identify, which is why it is important to always play it safe and purify anything you drink. Iodine tablets and filtration pumps are viable ways of creating clean drinking water while traveling, but the safest and most efficient way of doing so is through the use of ultraviolet light. UV lamps are capable of destroying more than 99.9% of all the harmful bacteria and organisms that can exist in water, making the liquid completely safe for consumption.

SteriPEN is a company that is singularly focused on making UV water purification systems specifically for travel. In the past we have reviewed several of their products and have always come away impressed. But the company continues to refine and improve their purification systems, making them more efficient and easier to use. By incorporating those improvements into the new SteriPEN Ultra, they just may have created the best portable water purification system ever.

Some of the enhancements to the Ultra include a greatly improved OLED display, a long lasting rechargeable battery and an interface that is much easier to understand. Separately those things don’t seem to bring much to the table, but together they add up to a better product for travelers, backpackers and campers. One that is highly effective and incredibly simple to use.

Despite these nice upgrades to the device itself, the process for using a SteriPEN purifier remains the same. The Ultra is capable of purifying up to one full liter of water at a time, which is accomplished by simply filling a water bottle with the liquid and then activating the UV light. The user then immerses the lamp into the water and begins to stir until the light turns off on its own. It takes between 45 and 90 seconds to complete the operation depending on how much water is being purified and the current temperature. In colder weather it takes a bit longer for the UV light to warm up, so the system compensates by burning a bit longer. Still, the Ultra does its job faster than previous models, which is helpful when you’re purifying several liters of water per day.In previous SteriPEN products it wasn’t always clear if the process was completed properly and if you didn’t stir the water at a quick enough pace, sometimes you would need to repeat the process. With the Ultra, the company wanted to make it as clear as possible whether or not your water is safe to drink, so they changed up the user interface a bit to make it more clear. Now, after the UV light goes off, the OLED will display a smiley face if it the water is clean, while a frowning face indicates that the process will need to be repeated. These two emoticons will tell users everything they need to know at a glance. Battery and lamp life indicators are also easy to read at all times.

SteriPEN Ultra water purification systemThis redesigned interface benefits greatly from new OLED display. It is bright, clear and easy to read even in low light conditions. Previous SteriPEN models didn’t incorporate this technology and as a result, the screen was often difficult to view, and all but impossible to use at night. But the Ultra’s display never leaves any room for doubt and the user will always know if the device is working properly. It also makes it abundantly clear if the water is clean and ready to drink.

The SteriPEN Ultra is powered by an internal lithium battery that is capable of purifying 50 liters of water between charges. That’s enough water to last quite a few days, but in case your journey runs longer, the device can be easily recharged via USB. That means you can power the battery back up using a computer, external battery pack or small solar charger. Actually, anything that will allow you to plug-in a USB cable does the trick. This is a much better option than using replaceable batteries, which can run down quickly and can be difficult to find when traveling in a remote location.

Rugged and durable, the Ultra has been designed to withstand the rigors of the road. But to give it a bit of extra protection, SteriPEN includes a nice travel case. They also throw in a USB cable for charging purposes, just in case you don’t have enough of them lying around your place.

If you’re a traveler who routinely visits destinations where the water quality is questionable, you’ll definitely want to have the SteriPEN Ultra in your pack. But backpackers and backcountry campers will appreciate the device as well. It quickly and efficiently purifies water and provides piece of mind at the same time. I’ve used various SteriPEN purifiers on several of my own journeys and can honestly say that I have never gotten sick. My endorsement of this product comes after extensive use in the field, where these devices have never failed to perform as expected. That said, the Ultra is by far the best SteriPEN product that I have ever used and a must have for adventure travelers. With a price tag of $99.95 and a rated life of more than 8000 uses, this is a product that will earn its keep time and again during your travels.

[Photo Credit: SteriPEN]

Traveling With Food Allergies Easier With Smartphone Add-On

traveling with food allergiesTraveling with food allergies requires an extra measure of caution for those affected. In the past, that caution may have kept them from sampling local fare, a big part of any travel experience. Now, a new smartphone add-on will allow allergy-suffering travelers to test their meal at restaurants, food trucks, sidewalk cafes or any other dining venue around the world.

I have a friend in the UK who has a fish/seafood allergy so severe that if she so much as smells fish, a reaction occurs. If a tiny speck of fish accidentally makes its way in or on to something she eats? Off to the hospital she goes. She is far from alone.

Unique food allergies, sensitivities or restrictions with reactions that can be severe, and even life-threatening, affect millions of people, both children and adults. While traveling, those affected can’t rely on others to help; the down side to them being wrong is just too much of a gamble.Airlines provide special meals for these travelers if notified in advance. Food labels can indicate potential problem ingredients. Asking servers what is in food can help too. But until now, nothing allergic travelers could do would guarantee food safety.

To give allergic travelers a high level of confidence that what they are aboutraveling with food allergiest to eat is safe for them, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) developed the iTube.

Using the cellphone’s built-in camera, the iTube, along with a smartphone app, runs a test with the same high level of sensitivity of a laboratory. Unlike other mobile devices that detect allergens, the iTube is easy to use and much less bulky, according to the UCLA researchers at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

“We envision that this cellphone–based allergen testing platform could be very valuable, especially for parents, as well as for schools, restaurants and other public settings,” says Aydogan Ozcan, leader of the research team and a UCLA associate professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering in the UCLA Newsroom.

Can’t wait for the iTube to hit the shelves of your favorite gear store? A Food Allergy Translation Card iPhone App may help while you wait, as we see in this video:


[Photo Credits- Flickr user sweenpole2001 and UCLA Newsroom]

Stay Healthy While You Travel With Basic Safety Precautions, Internet Tools

Healthy Travel

Healthy travel is something not talked about much until travelers get sick. Flying commercial airlines, passing through airports or even taking a cab to a hotel in a big city, domestic travelers have the potential to be subjected to a variety of germs. But some basic precautions can reduce your chances of getting sick.

Common sense healthy travel precautions like washing hands frequently, keeping hands away from eyes and face and having a flu shot can help. Being sure to get plenty of rest, water and nutrition can help too. Taking advantage of some online tools can add an extra barrier of protection as well.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has online travel help with their Guide to Safe and Healthy Travel that encourages travelers to be “Proactive, Prepared and Protected when it comes to your health – and the health of others – while you are traveling.” The CDC says learning about your destination, seeing a doctor and considering any health issues before traveling is critical.

Having a travel health kit with remedies for possible illnesses like colds or flu along for the ride is not a bad idea either, especially when traveling to an unfamiliar area. Including bandages, gauze, antiseptic, tweezers, scissors and cotton-tipped applicators can come in handy too.

Thinking of international travel, we can add insect-borne diseases, a threat that received little attention until recently. Now, a new website called the Vector-Borne Disease Airline Importation Risk Tool (VBD-Air) tracks mosquito-borne diseases spread globally by air travel, offering international travelers a source to check possible health risks before flying.

The tool promises those concerned about healthy travel a better definition of airport and airline roles in the transmission and spread of insect‐borne human diseases. Designed from travel data and research done at the University of Florida, Gainesville, the tool asks users to enter an airport, select a disease (currently Dengue, Malaria, Yellow Fever or Chikungunya) and an airport to produce a map

“The researchers note that the global air-travel network has likewise contributed to the spread of serious and deadly diseases including influenza and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which are not spread by mosquitoes,” says Larry Greenemeier, associate editor in Scientific American.

The VBD program hopes to be able to identify passengers arriving at any given airport who may need additional screening before being admitted to a country. The data could also be used to warn travelers of areas in the world to avoid.

Even if not planning international travel, with cold and flu season right around the corner, some basic precautions can help travelers avoid picking up an illness along the way. It’s not a souvenir anyone wants to bring home.


[Flickr photo by Wootang01]

Fitness A Popular Travel Option Says Survey, Cruise Lines

fitnessFitness centers have been a standard amenity at hotels, resorts and on cruise ships for quite some time. Used or not, those facilities boast some of the latest equipment along with programs designed to maintain physical fitness on the road. Results of a new survey suggest a growing variety of reasons to work out while traveling, something cruise lines know all too well.

“Among those that exercise on vacation, 31% say their primary motivation is to maintain their fitness regimen,” says Travel Daily News reporting results of a TripAdvisor survey of 1,400 travelers. “A further 28% do so in order to avoid gaining weight, while the third most popular reason for exercising on holiday is to capitalize on having more free time to work out (14%).”

That’s no news to cruise lines that remain focused on adding healthy travel and fitness options. In an ongoing effort to move away from endless buffets where lifting a fork might be the only exercise their passengers engage in, things are changing. It’s those last two reasons, “avoiding weight gain” and “using free time,” that have cruise lines scrambling to add the latest features to ships.Carnival Breeze, the latest ship from Carnival Cruise Lines, features a SportSquare Sky Fitness Center with two ropes courses, a multi-purpose sports court for basketball, volleyball and soccer, a two-level mini-golf course, in addition to all the latest fitness equipment.

Passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas can jog their morning mile against 360-degree ocean views from the ship’s Sport Deck running track. The line’s fleet-wide Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness neighborhood supports a healthy lifestyle, combining the latest in aesthetic skin treatments, traditional spa services and workout programs. Last year, Royal Caribbean invited guests to participate in the line’s first “Royal 5K St Maarten run,” now an annual event.

Under construction now for a June 2013 debut, Princess Cruises latest ship, Royal Princess will have features that directly reflect an increased interest in fitness by cruise passengers.

fitness“Many of our passengers are very active on vacation,” said Jan Swartz, executive vice president for Princess Cruises. “These new facilities will offer them state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge classes to keep up – or even step up – their fitness routines at sea.”

To make that happen, Princess Cruises is adding a private aerobics studio that will host a selection of fitness classes, including TRX Suspension Training, MyRide indoor cycling, a Body Sculpt Boot Camp and Chi Ball Yoga.

Like other lines, Princess is also adding a top-deck sports court called Princess Sports Central, offering a collection of court games, lawn activities (they will have grass growing there), basketball, tennis, volleyball, badminton and a batting cage. Golfers will find a driving range facility, and a simulated laser shooting range offers a new onboard activity.

“While most Americans will spend at least some of their vacation relaxing, many now balance their fun with fitness, as TripAdvisor’s survey shows that a significant number of travelers also prioritize personal health on their trips,” said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications at TripAdvisor.

Responding to the call, fitness experts are focusing on short, easy workouts designed with the traveler in mind, with or without fitness facilities available like this TRX suspension trainer that fits in a suitcase and provides a total-body workout:




[Photo: Princess Cruises]