A 2013 study on the toll of traveling for business said it all: The research from Carlson Wagonlit Travel found travelers can experience stress for as much as 6.9 hours per trip as measured in lost time, or time unavailable to travelers to work or rest. The report – which was the first time an algorithm had ever been used to determine the true cost of travel – placed the financial loss at as much as $662 per trip.
Across a one-year period, the study examined more than 15 million CWT air trips broken down into 22 potentially stressful activities from pre-trip through posttrip actions. Each activity was measured according to duration and perceived stress intensity.
The results? The biggest stressor was flying economy class on medium- and long-haul flights. Getting to the airport or train proved to be the second most stressful part of the trip.
Unfortunately, the intervening years have not mitigated stress for business travelers. A more recent global study released in 2018 by IHG with help from associates at Harvard Medical School, reported that business travelers lose some 58 minutes of sleep per night on the road, averaging only five hours and 17 minutes when they are traveling. The disruptions of travel all contribute to what can be a hot mess for anyone who cycles through time zones for a living.
And while many of the factors that contribute to travel stress cannot be avoided, there are a few tricks that can make anyone’s journeys through business and through life a little more bearable.
On a recent trip to Turkey with TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, the focus was on optimizing health in the air and integrating easy habits that any flier can adopt. The famed cardiothoracic surgeon and Columbia University professor, and star of the syndicated Dr. Oz Show had plenty of advice for passengers – many of them frequent fliers – to minimize discomforts and stay well during long-distance travel.
Suggestions included everything from seat yoga to drinking a sour cherry brew to keep sickness at bay. But the key concern is keeping the autoimmune system boosted and use the time for some much-deserved detox from daily pressures.
Among other things, Dr. Oz recommends popping an aspirin before a flight to prevent pulmonary embolism for those at risk, as well as a vitamin supplement and an oft-overlooked piece of the wardrobe: a scarf. It can serve as a blanket, an aroma blocker, a pillow and protection against airborne bacteria.
Flight has only been aloft for around 100 years, so the fact that people are capable of jumping time zones with speed is a relatively new phenomenon.
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