Could frequent travel be dangerous?


One in 10 travelers on long-haul flights develop symptomless deep-vein thrombosis. (AP)

While there are a tremendous number of perks and benefits associated with traveling, a new study published in the journal Environment and Planning A aims to examine some of the often overlooked effects and potential risks of frequent travel.

Titled “A Darker Side of Hypermobility,” the study seeks to shed light on the potential physiological, psychological, emotional and social consequences felt by frequent travelers, especially those whose careers are tied to travel — air travel specifically.

In addition to the most common side effect, jetlag — which impacts a person’s sleep and gastro-intestinal patterns and can also have long-term negative effects on the immune system and memory — frequent fliers might not know that they are at risk of developing deep-vein thrombosis, a blood clot that forms in a deep vein.

“One in 10 travelers on long-haul flights develop symptomless deep-vein thrombosis,” the researchers point out.

The study reveals that those and other physiological threats are often compounded for business travelers who typically have far less time to exercise and eat healthy.

Beyond the physical effects, though, the study argues that it’s not uncommon for frequent travelers to be negatively affected emotionally, whether it’s feeling lonely or guilty in a scenario where they’re missing out on time with their spouse and children at home.  

“Transportation to the destination is a further source of stress and disorientation, as unexpected travel delays due to weather, technical failures and additional security checks at airports contribute to anxiety, frustration and fatigue,” the researchers write.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Surrey in the U.K. and Linnaeus University in Sweden, concludes that “the costs of hypermobility can be substantial, with significant consequences for those traveling, their families and their communities.”

Researchers noted that additional research is necessary in order to measure the impact of frequent travel.

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