Traveling for business may seem glamorous—flying to new cities or across the globe. It can also be extremely stressful and taxing on your health. The top three triggers for stress when traveling can be grouped into three main areas, according to a study by CWT Travel Solutions Group (CWT).
1. Lost Time. It’s difficult, or downright impossible, to get work done while traveling, especially when you have a long flight. Many day-to-day business needs pile up while you are on the road, so when you return, you will need to “catch up” on work that you missed.
2. Unforeseen Events. Just thinking about the possibility of lost or delayed luggage, a delayed flight, or a missed connection can cause extreme anxiety for most business travelers.
3. A New Routine. It’s challenging to find time to exercise or stick to a healthy diet when you are on the road, which means many business travelers sacrifice their health while traveling.
The four biggest drivers of stress within those three groups are lost baggage, poor or no internet connection, flying coach on long-haul flights and delays. CWT surveyed 6,000 business travelers and found that people traveling for work can lose up to 6.9 hours on a trip due to stress, meaning that they used that time for neither work nor rest.
Aside from stress, just how bad is travel for your health? It can have more severe health consequences that you may realize. One of the most common issues is jetlag, which can affect sleep and gastro-intestinal patterns, as well as your mood, judgment and ability to concentrate. Researchers at the University of Surrey and Linnaeus University in Sweden found people can feel the effects of jetlag even six days after flying, and some experts say it can take up to 11 days for the body to return completely to normal following a trans meridian flight. Business travelers are at increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis from sitting for long periods, as well as being exposed to cold or flu germs.
Business travel is often more stressful than fun, but here are six strategies to reduce that stress and stay healthy while on the road.
1. Be Prepared. Make a checklist of items that you need for your trip—including any business materials such as files, computers and presentation equipment. Find out if you will have Wi-Fi access at your hotel or conference area. If not, plan accordingly, with a portable Wi-Fi or mobile hotspot. Don’t forget your phone charger or an extra battery. Plan what you can work on easily while traveling to limit how much “catching up” you have to do when you return.
2. Create An Itinerary That Limits Stress. Double check the location of your hotel or business meeting to ensure that you are flying into the best airport, especially if your destination city has two options. Fly nonstop whenever possible. This will remove the stress of making a connection and limit potential delays in your travel itinerary. If you are forced to make a stop and switch planes, don’t schedule flights with tight connections. You will worry about making that connection the whole time.