We all have them. Heck, maybe you are one of them. Those Facebook friends who get to travel all over the country or the world for their jobs. Instead of being stuck in the same office day after day, frequent business travelers are taking three or four business trips a month. While you’re annoyed by Kim from accounting’s smelly lunch, your frequent business traveler friends are checking in at LAX, PEK, DBX, and LHR. They’re posting Instagram snaps of the view of the cherry blossoms from their hotel room in Tokyo or of that excellent escargot from that little cafe along the Champs-Élysées, all on their company’s dime. They really are living the life, it seems—or are they?
THERE HAVE BEEN CALLS TO CLASSIFY FREQUENT BUSINESS TRAVELERS AS ‘RADIATION WORKERS.’
According to Scott Cohen, deputy director of research of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey, it’s time to send your envy packing. Cohen recently published a paper titled A Darker Side of Hypermobility, in which he aggregated the data from 15 years of major studies on frequent travel. His findings are nothing short of disturbing if you’re one of what Cohen calls the “hypermobile”: “a mobile elite who are often well connected to global networks, with their lifestyles closely but not exclusively linked to the practice of business travel.”
In Cohen’s review of the literature, he found that this mobile elite, instead of bragging about their exciting lifestyles, should be very concerned about their health. “[Business travel] has a wide range of physiological, psychological and emotional, and social consequences that are often overlooked, because being a ‘road warrior’ tends to get glamorized through marketing and social media,” says Cohen. He argues that this glamorization of hypermobility—used to sell flights, frequent-flyer memberships, and hotel rooms—has silenced the negative health effects frequent business travelers expose themselves to. Specifically:
FREQUENT BUSINESS TRAVELERS AGE FASTER
Scientists now understand that specific genes can affect how quickly we age—and it appears the more someone travels, the faster they age.
“Frequent flying can lead to chronic jet lag, which can cause memory impairment and has been linked in studies to disrupting gene expression that influences aging and the immune system, and increased risk of heart attack or stroke,” says Cohen.
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