Business Traveler Interview: Dr. Susan Biali (Part 2)

We all know we should take our vacation time. Studies have shown time and again that people who take vacations are happier, healthier, live longer, and are more satisfied with their lives. It’s just so hard to leave work at the office! But don’t worry—there are ways to maximize time on your business trips as well as vacations to gain the ultimate health benefits. Dr. Susan Biali, a health and happiness expert and author of Live a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You, has teamed up with Embassy Suites to help travelers “more-imize” their time, so they can get more out of the precious spare time they do have.

Here is Part Two of my interview with Dr. Biali. Check out Part One here!

RW: Assuming you have a family, have you found that a family trip does more to relax you and you can reap more benefits from that type of trip? Or would a solo trip or girlfriend trip be better?

SB: We know that nurturing our closest relationships is incredibly important. Specifically those with your spouse and your kids, which are your primary relationships in this world. There are health and happiness benefits from making sure those relationships are very strong. So it really depends on how someone feels their relationship with their family is going.  Because if they are on the road a lot, there’s a chance  that relationship is being neglected. For the sake of the family, and our own health and happiness, that needs to be a top priority. However, I also speak to women constantly about the need to take time for themselves. If you’re somebody that is already spending a huge amount of time on your family when you’re home, and you’re having business trips so you’re extremely busy, it may be very helpful to take some time for yourself. What I would recommend to ladies on the road all the time for work is to carve out a little time during business trips. Try going to the spa, or finding a beautiful restaurant when you’re in the airport and have a lovely meal. Take time within business travel to really nurture yourself!

RW: So what other ways do you recommend getting in treats for yourself during business trips?

SB: One of the places where I stay they bring free yoga stuff to your room, so I’ll finally have the time to use some of the yoga recordings I have on my laptop. I always have hot baths—even if it’s summer time, if a hotel has a bathtub I will always take time to take a bath. I like to watch movies on Netflix, I love going for walks and exploring, I love taking myself out for really lovely meals that I can linger over. I totally nurture myself when I travel. If I can, I use the time on the plane to read a great book that I wouldn’t normally read, or if they’ve got movies on the back of the seat I’ll watch them all. I really try to maximize that time. Because when you’re traveling for business, if you’re a person like me who can be sucked into being busy all day when you’re at home, travel is a great way to find unusually large islands of time to just relax.

RW: So what has been your most memorable vacation?

SB: Goodness. That’s a hard one! I’ve had so many great ones. This is kind of cheating because it’s my last one, but the best vacation I ever had was spend a month on the island of Ischia in Italy. That was really something else.

RW: What made it so great?

SB: It was a huge luxury of time that I gave to myself to be away for that long. It’s the longest I’ve ever done a pure vacation. It was off the beaten path—most people haven’t heard of Ischia. It’s near the island of Capri, so all the tourists are around Capri. It’s so beautiful, and I got a chance to get to know the locals. I made friends with the guy who owns this wonderful restaurant that basically fed me the entire time. I love to walk, and there are so many wonderful places to take photographs. Of course, I ended up writing a travel story about it and having photographs published, so it sort of turned into a working vacation in that I wrote about it afterwards. But while I was there I was just walking, eating, enjoying sunshine and Italian culture. It was just fabulous.

RW: And so what do you think are the components of a really great memorable vacation?

SB: Lots of relaxation time planned in—not overscheduled. My worst vacation was two or three weeks going to multiple countries in Europe. It was awful, because we were constantly running and constantly on the move. The best sort of vacation for me is to just go to one place, and really spread out. Stay in a hotel room where there’s lots of space. Especially if you are traveling with your family, it’s great if you’re not on top of each other, more of a suite kind of environment. Also, I love having my own kitchen, even if it’s just a kitchenette, so you’re not always under the pressure of “Where are we going to eat?” I love being in a place where you can do a lot of walking and the sites are very accessible. The kind of location where you can go out the door of your hotel, start walking in either direction, and have an adventure without too much planning of day trips and things like that.

RW: You sound like a woman after my own heart! I think you just described my perfect vacation. I have some friends whose ideal vacation is always just going, going, going. Whenever we go on vacation with them I really admire them, but I feel exhausted later because I kind of just want to sit by the pool!

SB: I know! And sitting by the pool is so important! It’s supported by scientific literature, that having a relaxing vacation provides the most benefits. We know that people who take regular vacations live longer and they have less depression. Women who take more vacations have more marital satisfaction! It is so important that a vacation really is a vacation. Especially for those of us who work really hard.

RW: So what are your plans for the next year? Vacations, work, speaking?

SB: Yes! My next trip is actually to Virginia, where one of my friends lives. I’m going to a dance association meeting, because I’m a flamenco dancer in addition to being a medical doctor and a life coach. I‘m going to speak the morning of the conference, and then the next five days are going to be absolute full on pure crab cake eating vacation. And that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about—since I’m doing a one day speaking engagement I could easily just fly in and out, but I’m already there! I always try to capitalize on the business travel if I can. Right now I  don’t have anything beyond that trip the first week of August. I do know there is going to be a lot of travel and there’s going to be a lot of writing, because there always is!

RW: My last question. When you are traveling, what is the one thing you can’t travel without? Your one travel necessity?

SB: My noise canceling headphones. They’re actually heavy machinery headphones! I’ve had them for years, before the fancy Bose ones came out, and I cannot travel without them. I pack them in my bag for the plane, and also for sleeping in noisy hotel rooms. They give me so much peace I couldn’t be without them.

RW: Thank you so, so much for your time and all of this great advice. I hope you have a fantastic trip to Virginia, and I look forward to reading your next book when it comes out!

SB: Thank you so much, it’s been a pleasure.

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