By Sahara Rose De Vore
It’s no secret that travel is essential for the success of many businesses. The relationships built, connections made, and deals closed are some driving factors for why companies travel for business.
But imagine having to be on the road every month, heading to Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong, or Mumbai. That much business travel has been shown to take a significant toll on travellers’ mental and physical health, emotional wellbeing, relationships, personal satisfaction, and work performance.
Pre-pandemic, there was a roaring burnout epidemic wreaking havoc on business travellers, with an increase in obesity levels, poor habits like smoking or excessive drinking of alcohol, poor diet, unhappy relationships, and high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Business travellers were expected to accept their constant travelling, keep up with their work expectations, succeed with the purpose of the trip, and stay well, all while their employers provided little to no support for maintaining and improving their wellbeing.
Understandably, the bottom line matters in business, but whatever happened to the care and consideration of employees and treating them as the human beings that they are? Without happy employees, companies will struggle with high turnover rates, poor company morale, lack of company ambassadors, low productivity, increased health costs, and unwell employees who do the bare minimum while their health deteriorates.
But what if business travel didn’t have take a toll on employees’ health and wellbeing?
What if travel was used as a tool to help people improve their mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, personal, and professional wellbeing? What if travel was a source of inspiration, creativity, and productivity?
What if we flipped the script on how and why people travel for business?
It’s not as far-fetched of an idea as it may sound. For decades, studies have shown how beneficial travel can be for our overall wellbeing. The simple act of changing environments, the new sights, sounds, feelings, smells, and sensations, spark different synapsis in the brain, which can spark creativity.
Spending time in blue spaces—near the sea, lakes, ponds, or waterfalls—or green spaces such as parks, forests, or gardens, decreases stress and anxiety levels. Meeting new people can improve your empathy, compassion, understanding, and acceptance of others through simple human connection while enriching your social wellbeing.
Getting outdoors, hiking, walking around a new city, running along the beach, or biking a new trail can improve your physical wellbeing. Eating healthy foods or fresh fruits and vegetables you don’t often have access to can support smarter eating habits.
Employees expect a lot more from the companies they choose to work for now, especially if the company expects them to travel often.
During the pandemic, people were given a taste of freedom, time with their families, improved wellbeing, a reassessment of values, and personal fulfilment. So companies need to rethink how they attract and keep their business travellers, and their approach to wellness has much to do with this.
Wellness dashboards are popping up in the corporate travel world, like that at Navan and Egencia, which focus on measuring traveller friction points like the length of flights, number of layovers, number of weekends travelled, length of layovers, and business vs economy class. However, there is more to a traveller’s wellbeing than just their stress level.
Studies have shown business travellers’ increased interest in incorporating aspects of leisure into their trips. Known as bleisure—combining leisurely activities into a business trip—can help decrease the deterioration of a traveller’s wellbeing. Some examples include extending a trip by a day or two, bringing a spouse or loved one along, and engaging in fun activities while on the trip.
For example, educating employees on how beneficial different aspects of travel can be for them and empowering them to make better decisions on how to spend their time best can help. Information like: what a simple walk or 20 minutes in nature can do for them; the importance of sparking conversation for new stories and new perspectives; what the destination has to offer in terms of nature, culture, and community; encouraging employees to explore a bit more and exercise their navigation skills, maybe wander a local market and try new foods.
When purpose is placed on a business trip, and intentions are set on what to be more mindful of when it comes to personal goals and wellbeing, companies need to step it up and offer a more well-rounded approach to how and why employees travel for business.
Sahara Rose De Vore is a Wellness Travel Coach and Founder of The Travel Coach Network.
Sahara went from being a broke college student to travelling to 84 countries solo to becoming the CEO of her travel businesses. She believes that there is more to a travel career than just blogging and booking trips, which led her to create the world’s first and only ICF-accredited certification program for travel coaches.
Sahara is a published author, global speaker, and TEDx speaker, and has been in over 140 media outlets for her travel and business expertise, including Forbes, Travel Weekly, Conde Nast Traveler, and CNN Travel.
Sahara was also named one of 2023’s Most Influential Women in Travel by TravelPulse.
Connect with her at sahararosetravels.com.