Do you think that frequent travel is bad for your health?

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  kathy lewis 20 Mar 2017
at 19:23

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  • Catherine0321

    Hi everyone, I am wondering if anyone starts to feel that frequent travel damages your health after you keep flying to different parts of the world for a certain period of time?

    I am asking this because I have started this new job for about six months and I have to fly to different places in Asia: Shanghai, Beijing, Malaysia, India, etc….

    I do sometimes feel tired because of jet lag but I wonder if anyone who have been a frequent traveller for a certain period of time feels the negative impacts of frequent travel on health?


    Ask any cabin crew member! They will most likely tell you that it certainly in now way adds to your health and well being. And the older you get the harder it becomes to tolerate jet lag and fight off those bugs in the recycled cabin air.


    Catherine, this is a tough one. Psychologically long-distance travel has been a great benefit to me: stimulating and an important or central part of my life, I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Physically – very hard to answer your question – in what cabin do you mean? Business class, no problem, the pain is considerably eased. And how often is ‘frequent’ to you? Long distance once a week would be much too much for me over decades. 3-4 times a year, no problem at all.


    A commute around the London orbital road (M25) verses long haul air travel….. the lonhgaul for me wins everytime.

    The key, I believe, is to have a comfortable routine for your choice..

    My routine is never to rush and travel in comfort… works very nicely for me…


    After many many years of frequent long haul travel, I cannot honestly say that it has had any
    negative effects. It can actually be quite invigorating……..something new and interesting
    on every trip.


    Hi Catherine
    GivingupBA has alluded to this already and a couple of years ago, I seem to remember there was a topic on this subject, which helped as a foundation for an article in the publication.

    For me, there are many factors involved here, not least, differentiating between physical and mental health, and taking a holistic approach to both.

    Factors such as age, frequency of travel, time from home, existing state of health, relationship status and many more I can’t immediately think of need to be considered.

    And here’s an example of the pros and cons …
    – At home during the week, I play football twicw and during the summer months play golf and I’ve started bowling at my club——–Working away, I’m eating hotel food, and if I’m with colleagues, probably enjoying a drink or two, I don’t normally drink during the week at home.

    – At home I’m almost always guaranteed a good night’s sleep, aware from home, I need to adjust to mu new surroundings, resulting in the odd bout of fatigue..

    – At home, I interact with family and friends, allowing me a complete break from the stresses that work bring. —Away from home, that stress is often carried on into the evening. Especially if colleagues have travelled with you.

    Having said that I love travelling, as it gives me an opportunity to meet new people, visit new places and thinking of the old adage…….a change is as good as a rest ….applies in most cases, and it’s good for the soul..

    But here’s the downside,, travelling, whether it’s enjoying a long haul flight to/from somewhere exotic in business class, or enduring a tortious train trip here in the UK is tiring and when you return home chances are you’re knackered..
    And , although you’d think it’s not directly linked to health, the love and companionship of a good women, and the anti-aging properties of interacting with rugrats I’d argue have health benefits attached. Sadly, due to my frequent absences from home I didn’t realise the effect on my better half until it was to late.

    So Catherine, my advice to you……. Enjoy travelling, and far more importantly, enjoy even more, HOME


    Canucklad, a very honest and complete post (and Catherine, I can’t better that).

    About other halves – treading carefully, I’ll say that time apart can be good and healthy. It’s a slightly different case but I read an article by the wife of a professional Himalayan climber. He was away for 3 months at a time, once or twice a year: she said when he came back, he upset all her routines (and was just itching to be back in the mountains again – such is the addictive nature of climbing). Sounds sad but I’ve never forgotten that. In my case, what can I do, I always try to make sure Mrs GivingupBA knows that she comes first.


    The following article may be of interest. The effects of flying on your body.

    (I declare an interest – I am a Non Exec Director of Soza Health.)


    Well I can say that in one period of my business life I did nearly 2,000 sectors in 5 years. Mostly European, but a reasonable number of transatlantic. I did not realise until I stopped for a period, just how much I was suffering from fatigue. Was it travel? Was it the long days? Was it both?
    And following an earlirr post, I ended up divorced.

    A good life lesson – on both counts…….


    I’ve been travelling long and short haul for over 40 years, through many different time zones east and west, all over Africa, and now more frequently south to JNB. I have had an annual check for the last 30 years and my doctor is astounded by my blood test results (apart from the sugar being a wee bit too high just now) and compares them to an 18 year old!

    In all that time I’ve had just 3 serious food poisonings, two teeth extractions and on two occasions a kidney stone, but I can’t blame the latter two on travel.

    I’ve been involved in one motor accident as a passenger but was completely unhurt. (I’m getting nervous as I write this – tempting fate???)

    While I now travel less, in those days I flew about 300 sectors a year so clearly it did not affect my health.

    My secret is to be as relaxed as possible. Accept that things do go wrong and not get worked up about it but look for a fair solution. Not be worked up by minor irritations such as someone without status in economy pushing in front of you to board the aircraft or finding you didn’t quite get the room you wanted at a hotel. Travel as comfortably as possible. I have a travel shirt which is very loose fitting along with trousers with an elasticated waist so no hassle removing belts at scanners. When I have to wear a suit I wear braces and at worse they run a scanner over you.

    I also try and keep to my own time zone as much as possible. When I travel West (-6 hours) I am in bed by 8pm and up at 3am and delight in having early morning breakfast meetings. East (+6 hours) I never have a meeting before noon. I also avoid back to back meetings where you are fretting about the time of your next appointment should your current meeting run over.

    I’m fortunate that i can travel in the premium cabins, but I don’t eat on the aircraft unless it fits with my normal mealtime and then I only eat lightly.

    I don’t know if that has anything to do with it but it serves me well and to answer you directly Catherine, no, travel has not damaged my health at all. Thankfully!

    PS. My memory does let me down a bit now, and I find I now need to write things down, but that’s probably just old age kicking in!


    Ardmarnoch, you did “nearly 2,000 sectors in 5 years”, that’s more than one a day! Really something… I calculate your average altitude to have been 5000 feet above sea level – me, 20 feet. (LuganoPirate flew nearly as much, too).


    Fascinating calculation GivingupBA. Not sure how you worked it out but clearly I was not flying as high as I thought I was!

    300 sectors sounds a lot more than it is. A day trip for me would be AMS-GVA-Nice-Rome-AMS so that would be 4 sectors. Another trip could be AMS-ZRH-DBX-Colombo-SIN-HKG-SIN-CMB-Male-Bahrein-ZRH-AMS, so 10 sectors in 8 or 9 days. And I’d do that 15 times a year. Add in trips round Africa and USA and it quickly adds up.


    LuganoPirate, glad you like my calculation! But it’s just being up in the sky that matters – my favourite quotation, Herman Melville/ Moby Dick “there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than the other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.”


    Hi Catherine given that the majority of positive replies so far have been from gentlemen – I think – please allow me a female perspective as I sit nursing a hideous cough, head cold and stuffed up back after 2 weeks on the road in Europe/Mid East.

    I travel long haul from Australia at least once a month – in economy – and as I’ve gotten older, it certainly hasn’t gotten easier. Stashing the contraptions of necessary work stuff overhead, hauling bags off carousels and ‘sleep’ in an upright position with sometimes less than 48 hours on the ground to turn back and head home – actually the office. After 10 years, this is no longer exactly my bodies idea of fun.

    Unfortunately business travel is often seen as a jolly by those who don’t have to do it and recovery/performance expectations, somewhat laughable. Hopefully you’ve got a decent travel allowance or at least a company that understands that dragging yourself to work at either end with less than ideal hours of sleep is unhealthy. That said, the opportunity to travel and experience other cultures is beyond compare. And at least you are doing Asia, if all else fails… you can go shopping in the middle of the night!


    Well for me travelling is a good experience as my home town is in Delhi, India. But since you are planning to travel continuously, then you have to consider consulting a doctor as chances are high that:

    1- You might not adjust to food in India, I am 100% sure about that 🙂
    2- Do carry some mask, as all major Urban cities have a bit high pollution level

    But nevertheless, travelling is a great experience and if your immunity is string that you don’t need to care much. I personally carry LIV 52 tab (an ayurvedic medicine).

    Plus, if you want any info on India, then feel free to contact me or Jatin at our FB Page.


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