Travel brings up feelings of excitement and thrill. Unknown places, people, situations and experiences lead to a possibility of an unexpected encounter.
However, in reality when you are travelling for work frequently, this is rare for most people. In-fact, very few unpleasant things are as glamorized as frequent business travel, more so in light of the overwhelming evidence for its detrimental psychological, social, and physical effects.
Corporate travel life in India today is rampant with same day round trip flights, sometime two to three times a week. This means, waking up early, coming in late, eating out frequently, waiting in lines and making a dash for either the cab or flight. Of course, the regular flood of calls and emails does not stop. The traffic situations, systemic inefficiencies and delayed flights make things worse.
Somewhere, taking time to exercise, getting down time for self, spending time with family starts getting pushed down on the list of priorities. The common complaint is, “There is no time.” Sometime the travel is with colleagues where you continue work discussions. Rarely do conversations get into personal matters though. Those relationships are often at superficial levels.
The impact of all this on your health is detrimental, especially when done over a longer time period. Based on studies, frequent work-related travel accelerates aging and increases the chances of suffering a stroke or heart attack.
Eventually, all of this affects performance at work.
Because of technology, we often get the impression that we are regularly in touch with our near and dear ones through video, chat or phone. The way excessive travel hampers relationships is huge. The bigger issue is the feeling of loneliness that starts creeping in. This further leads to depression and other issues impairing health and performance. It does not have to be this way.
What could be some underlying causes of continuing on with this, at times self-inflicted torture?
1. Fear of failure
The rat race makes it very difficult to see things clearly. Most people believe they don’t have a choice. Several very successful CEOs, V.P.s and directors I have encountered have driven themselves to success by a fear of failure. This compels them to become slaves of the rat race. They are willing to burn themselves out running an endless race like a horse whipping itself.
Saying no does not seem like an option.
2. Family Problems: I have noticed one reason some people take on a lot of travel is because they are trying to run away from personal situations at home. It is so much easier to run away from things under the pretext of work. Eventually, it will catch up with you. It is better to have difficult conversations at home, instead of killing yourself with crazy travel. It may seem like a sanctuary initially, but if continued, it is harmful.
3. Unnecessary travel: Not all business travel is necessary. First limit unnecessary travel. Could this be handled over a Skype call or a phone call? Is it possible to push to get multiple meetings together? Sometimes it may require taking a stronger stand for people to value your time. Often it may require stepping back and looking at the culture of the whole organization. There is also the need for personal connect and face to face meetings, travel could be justified in those cases.
4. Self-care: If excessive travel is mandatory, it becomes critical that you really take care of yourself. Make healthier food choices. Use the spa facilities available at the airport. Be mindful of the exercise you can get given the circumstances, for example walking around when possible.
Drink lots of water. Try thinking differently and pick times and flights that suit your schedule better. Prioritize your well-being.
5. Being stingy: Upgrade to business class or better more expensive flight schedules whenever possible, even if it requires using your own means. Most people are price conscious and often look for “value” for money. There is no greater value than long term well being and health.
A good way to think of it is what price do you put on your time, that you are willing to waste it in flights and at airports. As with anything, moderation is key. Travel in moderation is a source of joy and is meaningful. Take a holistic look at how excessive work travel is affecting your life. Are you travelling to run away from something?
The views expressed in this article are not those of Fortune India
The author is the founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners a global Leadership Development company based in Bangalore. She is a Leadership Development Specialist, an ICF Certified Executive Coach [PCC] and author of the book - Team Decision Making.