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Yet for a significant segment of the workforce – business travellers and fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers – thoughts of planes, hotels and new cities can be synonymous with stress and anxiety.

In fact, research highlights the link between frequent travel and these health risks, with business travellers experiencing higher rates of disturbed sleep, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol dependence, anxiety and depression than the average worker.

Similarly, FIFO workers commonly report difficulty finding a work-life balance, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and strain within their relationships.

Currently valued at more than $3.8 billion, the business travel industry in Australia sees Aussies spend an average of three-and-a-half nights away each trip.

With more than half (59%) of businesses expecting to make even more business trips in 2024 compared to 2023, it is evident the number of workers taking flight for work will only continue to grow.

However, health professionals warn of the impact constant business travel may have on Australia’s busy and high performing workforce, with nearly half of Australia’s business travellers aged over 45.

“While on-site workers may be able to make positive steps towards improving their mental health through implementing simple daily routines, business travellers may struggle to hold to steady habits to buffer the adverse effects of work on their mental health,” said Ruth Limkin, Founder of The Banyans Healthcare.

“This is especially true when working away involves committing free time to work associated activities such as being in transit or meetings over dinner.”

The Banyans organisation is encouraging business travellers to plan for their wellbeing on the go to safeguard their mental health. Here are some tips they have suggested:

Build mindfulness into your day – Try taking five minutes at the start or end of the day to journal, practice breathing on a balcony or meditating before bed.

Prioritise sleep as much as you can – Ensure you are having quality sleep by avoiding caffeine or alcohol late into the evenings and keep the hotel room as dark and cold as possible to promote sleep. Ask the hotel to empty the minibar to remove temptation which can be harder to resist when tired and lonely.

Make breaks to be in the sun – Research has shown the positive correlation between sunlight and mental health symptoms. Make time to step outside between meetings and conferences.

Use the space available as best as you can – We know that exercise can reduce symptoms of mental illness, as well as improve sleep, concentration and energy.

Do yoga in your hotel room or use the hotel gym – Even if it’s late at night, spend 20 minutes on the treadmill. Adopt a ‘something is better than nothing’ mindset and take a quick walk through the city, or even just between desks or around the airport to get moving.

Stock up on healthy snacks – If you pre-prepare and pack protein bars, nuts and low sugar treats you can eat these instead of the often unhealthy options available at meetings and events like high carb pastries or sweet desserts. Staying hydrated by drinking water or herbal tea will also help mental alertness.

“Working with hundreds of individuals who travel frequently for work, I have seen first-hand the effects that the non-stop lifestyle of business travel can have,” adds Ms Limkin.

“The effects of disturbed sleep, improper diet, social isolation and burnout on our mental health are profound, and the very nature of travelling for work can easily compounds these issues, with little opportunity for reprieve.

“At The Banyans, we work closely with high performing individuals through our day programs and high performance resets, and prioritise working with these individuals holistically to build routines and habits to alleviate the health impacts of senior management work – including frequent travel.”