Ergonomics and Travelers
Why is it Important?
Advances in technology and communication have made traveling more practical for greater segments of the population. In the information age it is possible to miniaturize and mobilize our workstations in a way that more and more people are freed up from the confines of an office or home.
The increased mobility of our population is reflected in the fact that upwards of 600,000 Americans now live abroad. They are able to maintain lifestyles comparable to what they were accustomed to in the United States on a fraction of the cost. Recent advances in communication technology are reaching areas that were considered too remote only a few years ago making them accessible to Americans who have grown accustomed to the conveniences of modern living.
Types of Travel
People travel based on their means and purpose. Some travel for pleasure to get to a specific destination, for others the journey itself is the purpose for their travel. Others travel purely for business reasons and ideally for them reaching their destination with a specific purpose is their objective. The purpose for the trip and the travel accommodations will determine what items are brought with the traveler.
Primitive travel calls for more of the basic commodities like food, water and shelter. Water is usually made available through portable filtration technology, and in areas where food is scarce there is supplement and dehydration technology that makes it possible for the traveler to carry food. Also made portable are tents and sleeping bags.
All-in-one technology has made it possible to combine different functions into one device. For example, the folding pocket multi-tools, combination flashlight/radio units, multi-function watches, portable car battery jump starters/ air compressors, miniaturized GPS units and computer map software all can be lifesaving to the automobile traveler. Also essential are lighters and portable stoves, cell phones with chargers, weather resistant clothing including gloves, protective eyewear and first aid kits.
To increase comfort in vehicles lumbar cushions, neck pillows and inflatable mattresses should be available. On a larger scale of comfort mobile homes function as “portable homes” and can be equipped to function as permanent living quarters.
For business travelers the usual mode of transportation is by air. For this reason they must travel light, stream lined with the bare essentials. They are destination oriented and they have little time for including pleasure activities in their plans. With air travel it is generally advised to limit one's belongings to carry on luggage. This way property loss is minimized.
For this traveler the basics include a laptop computer, grooming articles, a minimal amount of clothing, a travel alarm clock, personal stereo and work aids like a dicta-phone. In about 13 airports in North America there are offices with laptop workstations designed for business travelers. There are plans to expand the number in the future.
These travelers usually go to large population centers with food and lodging accommodations located close to the airport.
Planning from and ergonomic perspective for the appropriate level of travel helps travelers avoid unnecessary musculoskeletal stress, which cause pain and discomfort. We as travelers are thus able to maximize our comfort and make for a more enjoyable trip.