Take Extra Precautions for Holiday Travel


By Mary Jo Safford

Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday travel season as nearly three-quarters of Americans are expected to travel far and wide to celebrate with loved ones or to enjoy a family vacation.

If your travels do involve going abroad, you should schedule an appointment with a travel medicine provider four to six weeks before leaving in order to be familiar with the health and safety risks that traveling to another country can pose to you and your family.

More than 40 million Americans travel abroad each year. They travel for business, educational, religious, and humanitarian reasons. The mission of pre-travel healthcare is to prepare the traveler for a healthy journey, to promote healthy behaviors, and to prevent, control, and contain disease.

Baystate Medical Center’s Travel Medicine office offers travelers a customized travel health and safety consultation. During the meeting, they are able to discuss travel plans and receive specific vaccine and medication recommendations.

If you are pregnant, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends the best time to travel is in the middle of your pregnancy between weeks 14 and 28. Most common pregnancy emergencies usually happen in the first and third trimesters. After 28 weeks, it may be harder to move around or sit for long periods of time. Be sure your doctor is aware of your plans and has placed no restrictions on your travel for medical reasons.

It’s also a good idea for not only pregnant women, but all travelers to take rest breaks when traveling by car so that you can get out in a safe area to stretch. Even if your body doesn’t feel cramped from being in the car, your bladder may tell you it’s time to stop. And pack healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts to satisfy any hunger cravings while traveling.

Stretching your legs and keeping well-hydrated (consider bottled water, diet drinks, or low-calorie beverages) are important when taking a long car or plane trip because it will help to prevent deep vein thrombosis, a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep in the body, usually in the leg. The danger is that the clot can travel through the bloodstream and block blood flow to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers several tips when your holiday travel plans involve kids:

• Remember that the home you may be visiting may not be childproofed. Watch out for danger spots.

• Always make sure your child rides in an appropriate car seat, booster seat, or seatbelt. In cold weather, children in car seats should wear thin layers with a blanket over the top of the harness straps if needed, not a thick coat or snowsuit. While it is not required, the Federal Aviation Administration does recommend using an approved child-restraint device (such as a car seat) when flying with infants under age 2.

• For the safety of children, adults who are driving (and passengers as well) should buckle up, too; drivers should never be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

• Traveling can disrupt your child’s daily routine, and the holidays often add to their stress levels. Try to stick to their usual routines, including sleep schedules and the timing of naps to help reduce stress. 

Remember to get enough sleep. Traveling can be tiring, especially if you are crossing time zones, and you want to be sure you get enough sleep to make sure you have enough energy to enjoy whatever plans you may have.

Mary Jo Safford is a nurse practitioner with Baystate Medical Center’s Travel Medicine office.

Ask The Right Interview Questions 

By Alex Zlatin

A company’s intention in a job interview is to find the person who best fits a particular position. But quite often, the candidate who is hired fails, and usually their exit is related to attitude issues that weren’t revealed in the interview.

That raises the question: are interviewers asking the wrong questions — and consequently hiring the wrong people? Some traditional styles of interviewing have become outdated, thus wasting time and resources while letting better candidates slip away.

It still astounds me to meet HR professionals who lack the basic skills of interviewing. In 2019, ‘tell me about yourself’ is still a way to start an interview, and that’s absurd. The only thing you get is people who describe the outline of their résumé, which you already know.

Here are some interview approaches to help HR leaders, recruiters, and executives find the right candidate:

• Make it a two-way conversation. Traditional interviewing focuses too much on the candidate’s skills and experience rather than on their motivation, problem-solving ability, and willingness to collaborate. Rather than making most of the interview a rigid, constant question-and-answer format that can be limiting to both sides, have a two-way conversation and invite them to ask plenty of questions.

• Flip their résumé upside down. Surprise them by going outside the box and asking them something about themselves that isn’t on their résumé or in their cover letter. See how creatively they think and whether they stay calm. You want to see how a candidate thinks on their feet — a trait all companies value.

• Ask open-ended questions. Can this candidate make a difference in your company? Answering that question should be a big aim of the interview. Ask questions that allude to how they made a difference in certain situations at their past company. Then present a hypothetical situation and ask how they would respond.

• Don’t ask cliched questions. Some traditional interview questions only lead to candidates telling interviewers what the candidate thinks the company wants to hear. Interviewers should stop asking pointless questions like, ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ or ‘why do you want to work for this company?’ Candidates rehearse these answers, and many of them are similar, so that doesn’t allow them to stand apart.

• Learn from the candidate’s questions. The questions candidates ask can indicate how deeply they’ve studied the company and how interested they really are. A good candidate uses questions to learn about the role, the company, and the boss to assess whether it’s the right job for them.

• Don’t take copious notes. The tendency by interviewers to write down the candidate’s answers and other observations is a huge obstacle to building a solid two-way conversation because it removes the crucial element of eye contact. –

Alex Zlatin is CEO of dental practice-management company Maxim Software Systems.