The illusion of business travel often comes with a tinge of glamour – business class all the way to Singapore, indulging in some cocktails with clients in New York – all paid for in the name of work.

The reality of stress, sleep deprivation, loneliness, strained relationships, and even changes in our genes, are in contrast wholly unglamorous. But this is the reality of frequent business air travel which has been quantified by a study from the University of Surrey and Lund University in Sweden.

Researchers investigating the “hypermobile” lifestyle found that images of business travel portrayed in the media were skewed towards the positive, as study author Dr Scott Cohen from the University of Surrey explains,

“A man in a sharp suit, reclining in a leather chair, laptop open in front of him, a smiley stewardess serving a scotch and soda. This is often the image of travel, particularly business travel portrayed in TV ads and glossy magazines. But there is a dark side to this ‘glamorised’ hypermobile lifestyle that the media, and society ignores,” he said.

“It is not only traditional media that perpetuates this image. Social media encourages competition between travellers to ‘check-in’ and share content from far-flung destinations. The reality is that most people who are required to engage in frequent travel suffer high levels of stress, loneliness and long-term health problems. There are also wider implications for the environment and sustainability. In this context, hypermobility seems far from glamourous.”

Aside from an impressive number of air miles, passport stamps and social media snaps, what else can you get with your hypermobile lifestyle?

Radiation – Clock up over 85,000 miles per year and you can expect to absorb radiation levels which exceed the regulatory limit of most countries. That’s roughly seven trips from to Hong Kong from London.

Unhealthy lifestyle – Free drinks on long-haul flights, no opportunity to exercise and in-flight meals and snacks all adds up.

Jet-Lag – Messing with your body clock can cause stress, mood swings, disorientation, sleep issues and gastrointestinal problems.

Despite the adverse effects, business travel is on the rise, as we continue to value face-to-face meetings, even with the means of avoiding long haul trips to do so in an age enriched with digital capability.

Dr Cohen thinks that it’s time for a wakeup call,

“Society needs to recognise that the jet-set lifestyle is not all it’s made out to be. By striving to travel far, wide and frequently we are damaging the environment, ourselves and potentially our closest loved ones,” he said.

If you or an employee needs to travel for work, make there is insurance protection in place. Speak to Affinity about business travel insurance and the features available.