Radiation exposure, loneliness and strained relationships with your kids: Here's the darker side of frequent business travel

Emma Haslett
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Lisa Snowdon may look glam, but the figures suggest frequent flyers lead a sad, lonely existence (Source: Getty)

Business travel might traditionally be depicted as a blur of champagne-quaffing in various business lounges. But it turns out there's a dark side: a new study has suggested that frequent business travellers are a sickly, lonely bunch. And don't even get us started on their children...

Read more: Five ways to make business travel easier

The study, optimistically entitled "The Darker Side of Hypermobility", suggests that while jet-setting is often regarded as a seductive lifestyle, "little public attention is given to the negative personal and social consequences of hypermobility".

In other words, it takes its toll. Physically, the hypermobile have their circadian rhythm frequently disrupted, which affects the sleep and gastro-intestinal patterns, as well as mood, judgement and ability to concentrate. Jet lag can even switch off genes linked to the immune system, meaning their risk of a heart attack or stroke is increased.

On top of that, there's a higher risk of deep-vein thrombosis and higher exposure to radiation. Indeed, flying 85,000 miles a year - that's the distance of a monthly return flight between London and New York - goes beyond the limit for public exposure to radiation facilities, according to the research.

Then there are the psychological consequences. Not only is there the stress of getting to the airport on time (reduced, we'd hasten to add, if you're whooshing there in a company-funded car - but still...), but in extreme consequences the disorientation from frequent travel can create "severely disrupted conceptions of personal identity".

But the problems aren't just limited to travellers themselves. Business travel can lead to a "negative impact on children's behaviour" thanks to the "emotional upset" from a parent being away.

"Repeated absence from key family milestones and events, such as birthdays, can lead to a loss of family role," the study laments.

Alright, so it's not always easy to feel sympathy for the "lucky" few who lead a life of five-star hotels and business class flights. But as business becomes increasingly globalised, these problems are likely to affect more of us. Frequently flyers, watch out.

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