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Eating, sleeping and stress: Insights on traveler wellbeing

Business travelers may be better able to manage the demands of work-related trips and activities when they’re at their physical and mental best. Regular movement, balanced meals and adequate rest are as important for them as the meetings, deals and connections they make.

Traveler Wellbeing is a series of reports examining multiple aspects of business traveler wellness and the ways managed travel programs can support. The five-part series was compiled by BCD and Sanctifly, our marketplace partner in travel wellness.


Get moving

A recent BCD survey found lack of exercise while on business trips is among travelers’ major concerns, as reported by 26% of respondents. Access to gyms, swimming pools and exercise gear are some of the support measures travelers would like to see employers provide. Dive into this report for insights on how to help travelers get moving.

Travelers recognize the importance, but face challenges. Regular exercise is incredibly important for overall wellbeing. Building good habits around exercise results in lasting positive effects on physical and mental health, which influence all spheres of life. As reported by business travelers, physical health is the second most significant factor impacting their travel arrangements, after the needs of their spouse or partner.

Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood, reduce feelings of anxiety and stress, increase energy levels, improve circulation and help with sleep quality and relaxation. For frequent travelers, maintaining the routines they’ve established at home can have a grounding and calming effect, helping them navigate unfamiliar and stressful situations. Despite all positive effects of physical activity, only 2 in 10 business travelers manage to exercise regularly when traveling, although almost half sometimes manage to do so. A third of travelers rarely find time to exercise away from home. Maintaining a healthy fitness routine while on the road can be difficult. Business travelers must deal with tight schedules, unfamiliar surroundings, poor sleep schedules and so much more. Their time and energy are directed to other things and fitting in a good workout is often tricky.

Eat well

Getting the right nutrients helps us function efficiently – but eating healthy while on the road can be tricky. Wellbeing support from travel teams might include recommendations for restaurants and delivery services with healthy menus and nutrition guides for travelers.

Eating healthy while on the road makes part of traveler wellbeing. Food is an important factor when it comes to building and maintaining a healthy immune system. Eating well and getting the right nutrients can help you stay fit and healthy and fight off illnesses. As reported by business travelers, physical health is the second most significant factor impacting their travel arrangements, after considering the needs of their spouse or partner.

On a business trip, travelers attempt to preserve their wellbeing in different ways. Maintaining a healthy diet is one the most popular approaches travelers take to stay fit, according to the results of our Traveler Wellbeing Survey: when traveling, 45% eat healthy regularly and a similar share do so sometimes. Only 7% of business travelers rarely keep a healthy diet. People need balanced and consistent energy levels to function efficiently throughout the day. For frequent travelers who regularly deal with stressful and unfamiliar situations, having good energy levels is vital. However, eating healthily while on the road can be challenging for business travelers. Limited choice and disrupted schedules can mean making the healthier choice is not always easy. Being prepared is key.


Sleep well

Sleep is one of basic human needs essential for our wellbeing. It is a chance for our bodies to rest, recover and restore after the day. For many frequent travelers, a good night’s sleep is not easy to achieve. They have to deal with unfamiliar surroundings, stressful schedules, and, of course, jet lag. Jet lag is a temporary sleep problem that can affect anyone who quickly travels across multiple time zones. It occurs when our circadian rhythms, which signal to our body when to stay awake and when to fall asleep, are not synchronized with the current time zone. Unfortunately, jet lag is not just about feeling “off” for a couple of days. In reality, it is a large problem with significant financial and human costs such as
reduced productivity, lower performance and compromised safety. Jet lag can lead to a weakened immune system and long-term health implications. And as reported by business travelers, physical health is the second most significant factor impacting their travel arrangements, after the needs of their spouse or partner.

Despite the importance of proper sleep and recovery, only a quarter of business travelers manage to sleep well regularly when traveling. Half report sometimes managing to do so, and 2 in 10 rarely sleep well away from home. By improving this situation, employers could benefit from happier and healthier employees.


Reset your mindset

Having a road warrior lifestyle can undoubtedly take a toll on a traveler’s mental and physical health. Being hired for a job that calls for traveling can be attractive to many, although no one is taught how to properly manage travel. It may easily become overwhelming, tiring, and detrimental to health and wellbeing, causing anxiety and exhaustion. Here comes the catch 22: As reported by business travelers, physical and mental health, in their turn, significantly influence travel arrangements. By not recognizing what triggers their poor wellbeing, travelers miss the opportunities to optimize the benefits that travel has proven to provide.

Travelers may blame constant business travel and the stress associated with it for exhaustion and a lack of motivation. But that’s just part of the story. Apart from giving employees a chance to thrive professionally, travel may prepare them to be emotionally receptive towards others while deepening their cultural understanding. Travelers are exposed to new ways of thinking and doing business which can improve their skills. Traveling also helps develop soft skills such as communication, time management, organization and problem solving. By enabling them to explore new places, business travel can open travelers’ minds to new experiences. Dedicating time to leisure activities while on a business trip can be particularly rewarding.

Blended travel, when travelers can combine business trips with leisure, adding a few days to their trips or simply exploring the business destination after work, is not a new concept. Postpandemic, however, it has considerably increased its importance. In 2022, half of business travelers were likely to add leisure elements to their business trips, according to survey results. Despite high interest in blending business with leisure, only 1 in 10 business travelers regularly practice this. 4 in 10 sometimes manage to do so, while half of travelers rarely find time for tourism on business trips. This is not surprising given limited free time at their disposal. Only 18% report having time when traveling for work, while a third rarely do so. Meditation is yet another activity helping travelers to relax and disconnect, but less than 10% regularly meditate on the road. A quarter do so rarely, while a vast majority never meditate. 


Manage stress

Stress is one of the biggest problems among frequent business travelers. It is an inevitable part of working life, but many fail to acknowledge it. Business travelers often suffer from stress as a result of long working hours, disrupted sleep patterns, jet lag, and unhealthy diet. A traveler’s physical and emotional state depends on many factors, one impacts the other, and both are of great importance for business travelers. According to BCD’s Traveler Wellbeing survey, mental health was found to influence the travel arrangements of over a third of traveling employees, while physical health impacts nearly half of business travelers. It is important that business travelers manage their stress levels while on the road to protect their health and reduce the risk of long-term negative effects, and not just to ensure they can perform their work effectively.

Employer support plays an important role in alleviating traveler pain points related to their health while on a business trip. As reported by business travelers, both physical and mental wellbeing support from their companies are extremely or very important to 85% of the sample. But their satisfaction levels with the measures provided are about 10 points lower. This is the case for both physical and mental health support.

Read the full article and download the reports here.


Originally published Aug 28, 2023 12:03:10 PM
Last updated on Oct 12, 2023 10:45:01 AM

Written by BCD Travel



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