Nothing makes me feel younger than the ability to jetset to a beach somewhere (or Las Vegas!) to chill out.
That’s why I was surprised when I saw this article about how frequent travel ages us.
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.
So what are some of these negative health benefits?
One they talk about is radiation, but I think–despite all my travel–I still have more radiation from medical tests than I do from frequent travel. So perhaps my doctor’s orders are aging me fast (which seems strangely ironic), but I doubt being in the air is aging me faster than a CAT scan.
Another thing the article talks about is jet lag.
“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.
I’m not sure I buy this. I think if anything, frequent travel has made me more equipped to handle jet lag. When I travel to the West Coast, I always keep East Coast hours. I feel like I have a routine to my travel that keeps me from feeling overtired.
The article also talks about how frequent travelers are lonely. My guess is that this refers to unwilling frequent travelers–that is, travelers whose work circumstances suddenly threw them into travel. From my perspective, I have friends all over the country. Usually when I travel, it’s an opportunity to see friends I don’t normally get to see. It’s only lonely when I am unexpectedly stuck somewhere.
All in all, it feels like the article makes assumptions about how individuals handle travel. I think if you don’t necessarily want to do extra travel, it can affect your health. But if you’ve built your schedules around it and figured out how you travel best, you won’t run into these negative effects.