A Look at Business Traveler Hypermobility
Being able to zip from point A to point B and back within a day to conduct business once seemed like living the dream. You can accomplish so much but at what real cost? Environment and Planning A published a study earlier this month (opens in PDF) on the negative effects that a human can face when traveling frequently for business called “A Darker Side of Hypermobility.” The study is basically a peer-reviewed confirmation of what you’ve always known after returning from a tiring bout of business travel: It’s hard on you physically, emotionally and takes a big toll on your personal life.
The study breaks down the detriments on several levels which are: physiological, psychological, emotional and social. And you can imagine the gist of it centers on of course jet lag which leads to a disruption in sleep cycles, problems nurturing healthy relationships with friends, spouses and family members and of course poor nutrition since typical foods available on-the-go are high in sugar and salt, fatty and lack fresh produce.
The methodology of the study took into account a variety of travel factors such as physical distance covered, transport mode, cost and comfort of mobility, iconic places visited, and places lived, Etc. All to get a greater picture of if how we travel and live are interconnected. Hypermobility, on the whole, is shown to be bad for you. But hand-wringing over your amount of radiation ingested (bearing in mind that a typical pilot travels more than any typical businessman) also makes it easy to forget about all of the great corners of business travel. The frequent flyer miles. The cultural experiences and the unique people you meet.
In The Economist’s comment section the balance between the light and dark sides of business travel play out. “By traveling, I have learned so much and feel that I have a greater appreciation for different peoples’ points of view,” read one comment.
Others are more measured. “I was forever a 100K traveler until a couple of years ago when my traveling was reduced to around 50K,” says another comment. “Believe me I love to travel but the reduction in travel has made me happier and more pleasant to be around. For those in there thirties I understand their joy with travel but as you get older it becomes work.”
Needless to say, the rest of the business travel community seems more interested in sharing war stories and travel tips rather than arguing for one side or the other. Mass mobility has globalized the world economy and made growth in so many ways possible. There are costs to every large endeavor and as with anything; perhaps some caution and balance are best. One’s tolerance for business travel is always going to distill down to personal, familial and habitual thresholds — and the formula is going to add up to something different for each and every traveler.
“A Darker Side to Hypermobility” is an interesting study on the horrible side effects of business travel, but if you’ve found a balance between home life and the necessity of frequent travel there is room to thrive in both worlds.