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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 your body and your personal life.
The study breaks down the detriments on several levels highlighted well by The Economist’s Gulliver: physiological, psychological and emotional and social. And you can imagine the details without too much of a lead. Of course jetlag is going to result in lost sleep. Of course your friends and your partner will miss you. Of course airline food tastes like dirty sneakers.
For its part, the article serves its purpose and proves its point. Hypermobility, on the whole, is terrible for you. But hand-wringing over your amount of radiation ingest (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 rooms overlooking the Hong Kong harbor. Wandering the Las Vegas strip after a long and successful conference. Early morning swims at the Park Hyatt Tokyo.
In The Economist’s comment section you’ll see 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,” says one commenter.
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 commenter. “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 community seems more interested in sharing war stories and travel tips rather than arguing for one side or the other.
In truth, 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 a good study on the horrible side effects of business travel. But if you’ve found a niche and you’ve struck a balance between the good and the bad, there’s still space to thrive in this business travel world.