Have a Happy, and Ergonomic, Summer Holiday!!

Niamh Pentony

Niamh Pentony

MSc. Applied Ergonomics

Let’s be honest, while ergonomics might be in the back of your mind while you are working, it is most likely pushed way further back when you are on holidays! We are not long back from our own summer holiday with the kids. While we were away, in between the rollercoasters and ice-cream, I started thinking about all the little things I was doing to make things easier and reduce the risk of injury, something I value more as I get older!  

The summer holidays are a perfect time to escape the daily grind, relax, restore and explore. However, the journey and adventures can sometimes take a toll on your body, leading to discomfort or even pain. Manual handling, adverse postures, unsupported postures, fatigue, stress and prolonged periods of static sitting can come as part of the holiday package.


In this blog post, I share some tips to help prevent aches and pain, helping you enjoy a happy and healthy holiday!


Plan Ahead for Comfort

Before you even set off, consider how you can make your travel more comfortable. 

Choose travel options that allow for ample legroom and comfortable seating whenever possible. If you’re flying, try to book an aisle seat or an exit row for extra space. 

For road trips, ensure your vehicle is serviced and tyre pressures are optimal to minimise excessive vibrations and your seat is properly adjusted to support your back and legs. Plan rest stops along your route. 


Pack Smartly

Heavy luggage can cause strain on your back and shoulders. Easier said than done, but aim to pack only what you need.

Opt for a lightweight suitcase with wheels and a retractable handle to minimize the need for lifting and carrying. 

Distribute the weight evenly if using a backpack, and always use both shoulder straps to avoid uneven pressure on your spine.


Maintain Good Posture

Whether you’re sitting in a car, train, or airplane, maintaining good posture is crucial. Sit with your back straight and supported with shoulders relaxed.

Use a travel pillow (inflatable ones are a great space saving option) or a rolled-up towel to support the lumbar region if necessary. 

Keep your feet flat on the floor and avoid crossing your legs for extended periods.


Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and fatigue, making it harder to maintain good posture. Drink plenty of water throughout your journey to stay hydrated and keep your muscles functioning properly.


Take Regular Breaks

If you’re driving, plan to stop every hour to stretch and walk around. 

For long flights or train rides, stand up and move around the cabin periodically. Stretching helps improve circulation and reduces muscle stiffness.


Use Ergonomic Accessories

Invest in ergonomic travel accessories such as neck pillows, lumbar supports, and footrests. These can provide additional comfort and support, helping you maintain proper alignment and reduce strain.


Stretch and Exercise

Incorporate simple stretches and exercises into your travel routine. Stretch your neck, shoulders, and legs to relieve tension and improve blood flow. Consider gentle exercises like ankle rolls, shoulder shrugs, and seated marches to keep your muscles active.


Mind Your Screen Time

If you’re using electronic devices during your journey, be mindful of your posture. 

Hold your phone or tablet at eye level to avoid straining your neck. 

Take breaks from screens to rest your eyes and stretch your body.


Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Proper rest is essential for maintaining physical health. Choose accommodations with comfortable bedding and pillows that support your sleeping posture. If you’re camping, invest in a quality sleeping mat or air mattress to protect your back.


Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or pain. If you experience persistent pain, take a break and adjust your posture or activity. Don’t push through pain as it can lead to more serious injuries.


Stay Sun Safe

Wear high factor sun screen and reapply regularly. Avoid prolonged periods of sun exposure, particularly between 12 and 3pm. Wear a sun hat and loose breathable clothing. 


Helping Hotel Cleaners: Small Actions, Big Impact

It’s not just you that can benefit from keeping ergonomics in mind on holidays. We had our first hotel stay with the children on this holiday so for this first time I was conscious of not only making things easier for ourselves, but for the cleaning staff that would be cleaning and turning over the room. This harks back to a summer I spent in my teens working as a chalet cleaner in a local holiday camp here in Ireland. I would be so appreciative when I saw the guests had done a bit to help with the turnover.

If you are staying in a hotel during your break, you can contribute to a better working environment for hotel staff by adopting simple practices that show consideration for their physical well-being. 

Here are some ways to help:

Lift Bins Off the Floor

When you leave, lift the bins off the floor and place them on a counter or table. This simple action can prevent cleaners from having to bend down repeatedly, reducing the strain on their back and knees.


Strip the Bed

Before checking out, strip the bed of its linens and gather them in one place. This small effort can save time and reduce the physical exertion required for housekeepers, who often have to strip and remake multiple beds each day.


Tidy Up

Keep the room tidy by putting away any items that might be on the floor or scattered around. Place used towels in a pile in the bathroom, making them easier to collect. A tidy room can significantly reduce the amount of bending and reaching cleaners need to do, as well as reducing trip hazards.


Dispose of Rubbish Properly

Make sure all rubbish is disposed of in the bins provided and not left scattered around the room. This helps cleaners efficiently manage waste without having to pick up individual items from various places.


Report Maintenance Issues

If you notice any maintenance issues, such as a leaking tap or a broken chair, report them to the hotel staff. Addressing these issues promptly can prevent accidents and reduce the workload for maintenance and cleaning staff.


By incorporating these ergonomic practices into your travel routine and showing consideration for hotel cleaners, you can ensure a more comfortable and enjoyable summer holiday for yourself and contribute to a better working environment for those who help make your stay pleasant.

Bon voyage and stay healthy!

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