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Study identifies main stress factors for business travelers

Nobody ever said business travel was easy or carefree. But a new study conducted by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) has singled out the specific aspects of business trips that can send the road warrior’s blood pressure soaring.

CWT polled more than 6,000 frequent business travelers from nine global corporations, and found that stress tends to fall into three categories: lost time (i.e., when you aren’t able to keep working on the road); surprises (an unforeseen event that disrupts your travel plans); and “routine breakers” (i.e., the inability to stick to your regular home activities, like controlling your diet and getting in a workout).

Of all the frustrations associated with business travel, the CWT survey found that the most stressful thing is lost or delayed baggage. “Losing one’s baggage requires replacing the lost content, often in a short space of time. This presents multiple uncertainties under tight deadlines, which produced considerable stress,” the company said.

Ranking second on the study’s list of 33 possible stress triggers was having no Internet connection, or an unreliable one. In third place was having to fly in coach on a medium or long-haul trip, followed, in order, by flight delays, inconvenient arrival or departure times, having to stay in a low-category hotel, inconvenient hotel locations, and last-minute travel.

The single factor that caused the lowest stress levels among business travelers, the study found, was fear of flying. Other almost stress-free elements included taking a taxi, contacting a travel agent and renting a car.

Travel stress isn’t equally shared among all road warriors, CWT observed. It noted that according to the survey, “travel stress increases with age and travel frequency.” In addition, women reported higher stress levels than men, and “senior executives report higher stress levels than travelers at other levels of an organization.”

One stress factor was unique to North American business travelers: “When faced with a language they do not know, business travelers from North America indicate greater stress levels than travelers from other regions,” CWT said.

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