You finally got that business trip to Rome youve been angling for. Or your holiday vacation is coming up and the whole family is excited. But somehow the reality of travel—whether for business or pleasure—never quite lives up to your healthy expectations. Thats where good research and savvy planning come in.

1. Research your destination
If you travel more than once a year, get a membership with Athletic-Minded Traveler; this excellent online service is worth the $19.95 one-year fee. Youll find extensive background info on health-oriented accommodations, workout hot spots (including locations for kayaking and running), food, and shopping in more than 50 major cities. Want proof? Go to and check out a free view of San Diego or Toronto.

2. Ask smart questions
If you have a destination in mind, visit its Web site for answers to the following questions. If you dont get the 411 you need, make that toll-free phone call. Youll be surprised at how much you can find out.

How healthy are your accommodations? Its interesting to see what kind of answer that question illicits. Maybe they offer allergy-free suites or in-room fitness tapes.

Can I work out safely and effectively? Every place, it seems, has a workout room. But that doesnt mean its all that great. Go to the destinations site and check for a photo or call and ask for a description of the room.

Hows the food on-site? The quality and variety of the food is crucial if youre staying at an all-inclusive resort or are on a cruise, where your meals are part of the package. If you have dietary restrictions, ask how theyll deal with that: Do they serve nonfat or soy milk? Low-sodium food?

3. Plan your pit stops
For road trips, this amounts to planning healthy snacks and thinking creatively about stopping at places where you can get a brisk walk every few hours. Check state rest areas online to find out if they have walking paths (and clean bathrooms). Flying? Look for healthier midair options. United Airlines and JetBlue, for example, both offer excellent snacks or meals with low-fat and trans-fat-free alternatives.

4. Think like a doctor
Even if youre staying stateside, be sure your routine vaccines are up to date: MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus), and hepatitis B are often recommended. If youre going abroad, visit the Centers for Disease Controls Web site to research your destination and its health issues. Talk to your doc about where youre going. Also, think through any possible medical emergency, and ask yourself if youll be prepared to take action away from home.

Dont leave home without it!
Just because youre on vacay doesnt mean youre immune to health woes. Thats why travel expert Marlene R. Fedin always packs copies of prescriptions for meds and glasses, a pocket-size medical guide, and a first aid kit. She likes Johnson & Johnsons 40-piece Red Cross Safe Travels Kit ($7.49 at Walgreens) and, if youre doing some riskier activities like hiking, the Traveler from Adventure Medical Kits ($36.50 at For more info on building your own travel kit, visit Fedins site,