Travel Burnout

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This topic contains 26 replies, has 21 voices, and was last updated by  K1ngston 18 Mar 2019
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  • Healthjournosally
    Participant

    Hello all,

    I’m writing a feature on travel burnout for Business Traveller magazine, and looking for case studies to feature. If this is something you have experienced, I would love to hear from you. (You have the option of not being identified) Eg what combination of factors put you at risk of burnout? What were the symptoms (ie that differentiated it from normal stress/exhaustion)? What action did you take to manage it? Did you feel understood/supported by your organisation/boss? Have you made any changes as a result to your work/travel life?

    Alternatively, if you feel that frequent travel protects you from general burnout eg break from office politics/routine, chance to get a global perspective) then it would also be good to include your views.

    Please email me on healthjournosally@yahoo.com.

    Thanks for your time

    Sally


    canucklad
    Participant

    It’s an interesting question, and similar to stress I wonder how many of us actually realize we’re suffering or suffered from burnout ?

    I suppose when travel becomes a chore and you wake up thinking “I can’t be bothered with this today” is the obvious sign, but what about the more subtle signs.
    Tetchiness when you’re not recognized as a GCH or getting agitated because room service is taking longer than your hunger can tolerate.

    And, on a more personal note, how do you recognize travel burnout within your better half, the loved one who suffers whilst you are away on your perceived jollies !!

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Jones
    Participant

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is a GCH ?!?!


    GivingupBA
    Participant

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is a GCH ?!?!

    Gold Card Holder (British Airways)


    AJDC
    Participant

    I worked for an airline for 15 years in finance and burn out for me started when I realized that on vacation, I had no desire to get on a plane and go anywhere. As time went on (around my 12th year) I decided I needed an exit strategy as the thought of another flight or another hotel room became unpalatable. So I did all possible to get out of business trips. Three years later (15th year) , I left the industry and took a job with as little travel as possible. One of the better decisions I have ever made.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Polly
    Participant

    Gold Card Holder…..BAEC


    Tom Otley
    Keymaster

    Here is a previous feature from the archive written by Sally (I’ve removed the subs barrier on this one)

    Health: Calling time on drinking


    DavidSmith2
    Participant

    I think it is difficult to isolate the ‘travel’ part purely in terms of flights and other transport. In my experience it is usually more of a lifestyle issue that causes the problem, and the travel is only a part of that.

    For those of us who travel regularly for business, the implication for many is that they are in a relatively highly paid, but demanding job (unless of course they are crew!). The flights are combined with hotel living, possibly an expense account or at least a travel allowance, eating in restaurants a lot, being away from home and family, losing weekends because of travel needs etc.

    I spent about 10 years living out of a suitcase and travelling around 5 times a month to 13 or so countries in total. But then I was in my mid 30s to mid 40s and it just became routine. The travel itself was probably the easy part because if you live out of a suitcase you know what should be in it and the prep/packing becomes routine.

    I then spent 10 years with much less travel – still overseas but without a regional remit so mainly just recreational travel a few times a year. Now I am back on the bandwagon with 6 countries to cover and at least 2 trips a month. It probably isnt as easy now as it seemed then but maybe that is because I am out of practice. But at the same time I am older and wiser and less inclined to burn the candle at both ends.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    stevescoots
    Participant

    I agree with David, its as much about what you are doing when not travelling as the amount of travelling. I was hospitalised in China once with exhaustion about 10 years ago, a combination of travelling and trying to plough through jet lag everytime, complete lack of sleep. not sure if that qualifies. however i am not alone when turning up at teh airport thinking…not again

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Falcon7x
    Participant

    Great topic to be looking at. I’ve been travelling as part of my work for the last 10 years or so, and still really enjoy the feeling of walking off a plane on the other side of the world, albeit with less youthful vigor than I once had! The major positive for me is the cultural understanding gained…it just can’t be learned in the home office.

    I have found though, that over the last few years I have picked up increasingly more cold/flu illnesses from either the travel itself (i.e. unclean aircraft atmospheres) or from becoming run down after a week of jet lagged sleep (4am wake up anyone?). An ex cabin crew colleague of mine suggested using a ‘first defence’ nasal spray before and after flying and it has been a game changer for me. I’ve managed to largely steer clear of anything for the last 4-6 months.

    I’d love to hear other’s recommendations for staying fit and well!

    4 users thanked author for this post.

    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    My strategy for avoiding burnout and fatigue, especially for long haul travel, is to manage my time. I guess I am lucky that more or less I can control my diary 100%.

    Travel day – I never rush to catch a flight, instead arriving at the airport 3 – 4 hours before my first flight. Whether I work from an office or airport lounge does not make a blind bit of difference to me. I can always find a quiet spot to work on emails, reports or make telephone calls.

    Flight – I am very fortunate that I enjoy travel in business and very occasionally first. I enjoy the experience of a 12 hour flight and always try to fly overnight flights. First couple of hours, eat, drink, try to watch a movie and then bed back & will be flat out for 7 – 8 hours. When I wake up, window shades go up (yes I am one of those selfish ones) sun light in, starts to put me on local time. If I have a stop before my final destination (HKG), I will shower, change clothes so I arrive (invariably) into BKK fresh and awake. Most of my client meetings are in my hotel and for me, I am able to arrive at the hotel (late afternoon/early evening) after travelling from Europe and go directly into a meeting feeling and looking awake and fresh.

    After the meeting, I will go for a quick run, turn in around midnight and generally sleep through to 6 or 7 the following morning (and I sleep with curtains open).

    Business day when travelling my day is divided into 4 zones.

    **wake up to midday** – my time. Relax – go running – swimming – walk – anything but work, (occasionally I will have a morning meeting, but its rare).

    **lunch time to 6pm** – time is dedicated to Asia office hours and meetings…

    **6pm to midnight** – I work the English working day and dedicate my time to the UK/European parts of my business.

    **midnight to wake up** – sleep.

    Sure, I have suffered down route with fatigue/burnout and loneliness – but I have been using this 4 zone day to effectively manage my time. The day I stop enjoying what I do, is the day I will stop work.

    I am frequently asked whether I could reduce the length of my business trips if I reduced one of my 4 zones. My answer is always yes it possibly could, but at 57, I prefer to manage my time both for my work and rest, rather than time managing me. I have used this strategy (over the last 6 years) I remain sleeping pill and medication free.

    I absolutely love each and every 24 hours I have, both for work and pleasure.

    (just one small ps) – I do like Falcon7x’s suggestion about nasal spray as I have noticed an increase in the sniffles during travels. I shall research this suggestion….

    4 users thanked author for this post.

    kathy lewis
    Participant

    Hi Falcon 7

    If you email me at kathy.lewis@executivetravelvitality.co.uk. I’ll send you one of our Healthy Business Travel Guides which will give you all the information you need for lifestyle, along with some top tips on sleep and jetlag. Which UK airport do you generally fly from?
    Kathy


    Healthjournosally
    Participant

    I agree with David, its as much about what you are doing when not travelling as the amount of travelling. I was hospitalised in China once with exhaustion about 10 years ago, a combination of travelling and trying to plough through jet lag everytime, complete lack of sleep. not sure if that qualifies. however i am not alone when turning up at teh airport thinking…not again

    stevescoots – could be great to include this experience in the feature. I wondered if you could email me on healthjournosally@yahoo.com?
    Thanks


    Healthjournosally
    Participant

    My strategy for avoiding burnout and fatigue, especially for long haul travel, is to manage my time.

    Business day when travelling my day is divided into 4 zones.

    **wake up to midday** – my time. Relax – go running – swimming – walk – anything but work, (occasionally I will have a morning meeting, but its rare).

    MartynSinclair – really interesting strategy. Would you mind if I included it as a tip in the story (attributed to your Forum handle)? Thanks Sally


    canucklad
    Participant

    Falcon7x’s nasal spray advice is brilliant in its common sense simplicity. Next time I’m in Boots my wallet will be a bit lighter.

    Some good advice all around. MartynSinclair’s time management advice is sound, especially the bit about not rushing to get to places.

    A question for Martyn though. Your routine is aligned to a fitness regime. Do you ever get “stressed” or maybe a better word would be agitated if your routine is compromised?

    I ask ,because for me its routine that ultimately took the sheen of my mojo, The predictability of my working week, airplanes,hotels and private cars became the mundane norm as others (colleagues,friends & family) looked on with envy.

    I took a lesson from this unjustifiable jealousy, and reset my brain. Rather than seeing my destination as a means to an end. I disciplined myself to see it through the eyes of those left behind. A place to be explored. Every week I’d set myself a challenge to do something different.

    As important as Martyn’s physical fitness regime is to him, mine became a mental fitness regime. By breaking my routine I got back my mojo and looked forward to the next trip.

    Sadly, the consequences of this approach was that I missed the signs of my partner suffering from homebound burn out. Looking back, she probably misinterpreted my departures as an escape rather than what they truly were.

    3 users thanked author for this post.
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