Is Frequent Travel Killing You Slowly? A New Study Says it is Bad for your Physical & Emotional Health!

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frequent travel health effects

Frequent Travel or Hyper-mobility May Be Killing You

A new study has been released and it paints a dark picture of our “hobby”. While flying around the world for a weekend and sharing photos of exotic destinations is all the rage these days, this type of culture can lead to long term physical, emotional and psychological problems according to the study.

We all know the typical health problems posed by flying a lot. There is of course jet lag and deep vein thrombosis, but how about increased radiation? Apparently flying more than 85,000 miles per year puts you, “Beyond the regulatory limit for public exposure to radiation facilities.”

The study also tackles the portrayal of a frequent flyer lifestyle. We have all seen the ads with a businessman sitting in a plush seat working on the plane. He is being served by a friendly flight attendant and the entire thing looks so darn cool. Of course, business travel is among the most stressful things in the world, but that isn’t reflected anywhere.

Frequent travel or Hypermobility as the study calls it, also has other effects. Constantly arriving in foreign places can lead to exhaustion and loneliness. I know that I have run into this when on a whirlwind trip. As much as I enjoy the travel, after a long tiring day and a bunch of flights, I can start daydreaming of my nice warm bed at home.

frequent travel health effects
I shared this photo of one of my favorite cities on Instagram last year. I was so exhausted from that trip that I was sick for 2 weeks upon returning home.

Summary

I really think the entire study is a great read and something that a lot of you will find fascinating. Fox News also has a very good synopsis if you aren’t interested in all of the details. Here is a quick summary of what I took away from this:

  • The positives of this lifestyle are often spoken about, but the negatives are glossed over.
  • This type of travel can cause emotional disconnection and other issues.
  • Radiation exposure is an issue for those who fly too often.
  • Jetsetters suffer from a variety of physical, emotional and psychological conditions created by the frequent travel. These issues effect every aspect of their life.

My Take

I found this study very interesting, particularly with the amount of exposure our “Hobby” has received lately in the media. It is true that travel is glamorized in our society. I run into that often when people are simply awe struck at the amount of travel I have done. They only see the destinations and not the struggles to get there.

With that said, I am still an advocate of long term and frequent travel. I personally have received significant benefits from it, but would be lying if I said it doesn’t take a toll. The article talks about “frequent traveler exhaustion”. I have personally experienced this and it is a real thing. Towards the end of our 18 months on the road a few years ago, I often started the day at about 65-70%. Then there was my around the world trip last year. It took me weeks to recover when I returned home.

Conclusion

I love reading articles/studies like this. Of course it tackles a subject that is near and dear to my heart, but it also provides a fascinating perspective. The basic conclusion that we need to study the effects of the hypermobility lifestyle seems like a rational one. Since we are constantly bombarded with all of the pluses of travel, it really is probably important to look at the “dark side” as the study calls it.


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8 COMMENTS

  1. More concerned about the hazards of media exposure, rather than the hazards of radiation exposure, to the overall health of the gaming industry (aka the hobby). Unlike other lifestyle groups, the government has not afforded the scions of the gaming industry protection from discrimination by the banking, hotel and airline industries. Perhaps we need to become a political force and push our agenda to the Supreme Court? We could start by outing bankers, airline and hotel officials for being hypermobilaphobic. For example, we know that President Obama’s officials at the US Mint engaged in blatant hypermobilaphobic acts when they shut down the circulating presidential dollar program. Similiarly, Delta’s rush to a revenue based rewards program is hypermobilaphobic.

  2. The radiation concern is legit. You’re not getting much shielding in those thin aluminum tubes we call airplanes. People who are freaked out by TSA scanning effects should compare the output from those machines to the exposure they’re getting at 35k feet; it’s not pretty.

  3. Good point. I agree that the fatigue from travel rarely makes the news. I’m much older than the majority of people who play this game (57). I’m not interested in mileage runs, mattress runs, or traveling enough to get elite status on an airline. I don’t have the energy.

    The reason I play this game is to stretch my travel budget to get 4 to 5 nice trips a year instead of 1. That still gives me plenty of time to enjoy my home in between. I’ve learned to schedule a couple of days to recover from jet lag upon return, too.

  4. I’m surprised you didn’t know about radiation on the plane.

    I’ve always been telling people how much radiation there is in Fukushima and farther in terms of equivalent irradiation from JFK to NRT. There was a blogger who left his geiger counter on during his flight from SFO to NRT in April 2011, and the count was of course higher during the flight and after landing. I was only surprised the radiation on a night flight was higher than a day flight.

    Were you around in the days when the website http://www.flyana.com by Diana Fairchild was around? She was an advocate for flying safety, both for passengers and crew. She insisted that flight attendants have cancer rates three times as high as airline ground employees. There’s a 2011 obituary that says she passed away at age 67. http://obits.staradvertiser.com/2011/11/09/diana-fairchild/

    • I had read about increased radiation when flying, but hadn’t heard anything about the 85K miles per year thing. I have never traveled a ton for business and have done a lot of overland travel too, but I’m sure I have hit that number at least a few years. Definitely something to think about!

  5. Seriously, I’ve gotten a week long cold after returning from two trips this year which slowed down my productivity. My macroeconomist would tell me my travel is costing me more than I think.

    • I know my around the world trip last year cost me a ton. In the end it was less than 2 full weeks of travel, but it took me 2 full weeks upon my return to recover. It definitely cost me in a number of ways!

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