Expert Tips for Managing Business Travel Anxiety

Are you a frequent corporate traveller? Our World Travel Protection medical expert offers advice on how to manage – and minimise – business travel-related anxiety and stress.

Prior to 2020, we lived in a world that was mostly accessible and borderless for business and leisure travellers. However, the arrival of the global COVID-19 pandemic not only caused international and regional border closures, enforced lockdowns and lengthy quarantine periods, and halted almost all leisure travel, it also made business travel more challenging – and anxiety-inducing – than ever before.

As non-essential business travel resumes across the globe in 2021 and beyond, how do we ensure corporate travellers are not only safe and physically healthy on business trips, but are equipped to deal with the increased risk of travel anxiety and stress, too?

Our World Travel Protection Medical Team Leader, Emma-Louise Robertson, shares her expert medical tips to help corporate travellers – and those responsible for them – better understand and manage business travel anxiety and stress.

What causes business travel anxiety and stress?

Anxiety presents itself in many different ways, and it’s different for everyone. It can be caused by many triggers, such as health concerns, grief, family issues, as well as business travel.

“Travel throws us into unfamiliar places and situations, often resulting in increased stress or anxiety,” says Robertson.

“High expectations of the journey and its impact on other parts of life can be a stressor for business travellers. Being away often means other work-related activities will be pushed back, which increases the workload on return.”

Add the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s clear that managing mental health is an increasingly important issue for businesses.

Other causes of business travel anxiety and stress may include:

  • The pressure of important meetings and projects while travelling
  • Missing important family events, creating tension at home
  • Lack of exercise due to tight schedules
  • Jetlag
  • Poor food choices while travelling
  • Flight or travel interruption from weather or technical events
  • Medical or health issues that arise during travel
  • Being in an unfamiliar place with language barriers and communication difficulties
Caucasian Business Traveller with Anxiety in Airport

How to reduce stress and anxiety before business travel

For those who suffer from anxiety when travelling for work, being organised is key. Follow Robertson’s expert tips for easing travel anxiety before you’ve even set foot on the plane:

1. Get ahead before you go

Complete as much work as possible before travel, so it’s not waiting for once you’re home. Make note of simple tasks that can be done in transit, e.g. in the business lounge or inflight.

2. Be prepared

  • Pack three days before the flight
  • Pack extra chargers, power banks and international plugs
  • Check the weather at the destination and travel itinerary to ensure you have everything you need and feel knowledgeable about your trip
  • Leave a copy of travel plans with family
  • Pack medication and travel documents in hand luggage
  • Download the travel itinerary to access offline

3. Complete a fitness workout

Exercise prior to the flight and have a healthy meal to increase comfort during travel. Even if you’re boarding a short-haul flight, doing so will help you feel more relaxed during and after the journey.

African American Male Exercising Outdoors

How to reduce business travel anxiety during a trip

To help reduce travel-related anxiety and stress during your business trip, staying ahead of any unexpected situations – and having the right help and support – is important.

1. Plan ahead

“Have a daily plan of travel activities,” recommends Robertson. “Research your destination to ensure accommodation is close to your work base or important meetings. Find local exercise areas or cultural activities in case of free time. And, most importantly, have a safety plan for communication with colleagues and those back home.”

2. Embrace home comforts

Home is where the heart is, but a small reminder may increase comfort while away. Think: your favourite TV show, a playlist of calming music, or family photos. Whenever you’re feeling uneasy or have some free time, call on these comfort items to help reduce your stress or anxiety.

3. Keep your support network close

Whether it’s family or friends back home, your work colleagues, or your travel and medical assistance provider, ensure you have the key contact details for those who can support you while you’re travelling for work.

For more insights on how a travel assistance company can help you while travelling for business, discover the seven benefits of travel risk management for corporate travellers and their employers – and how it goes beyond simple travel insurance.

How to reduce stress and anxiety once you’re home

Readjusting to home life and a daily routine after travelling for business reasons can take its toll, especially if you’re dealing with jetlag. More often than not, there’s little time to settle in and recuperate before returning to the office, which can heighten anxiety and stress levels.

“We recommend business travellers get in front of the curve and prepare notes from meetings and travel appointments during any downtime on the journey home,” says Robertson. This helps reduce your workload once you’re back at your desk, and helps anxiety sufferers feel more in control.

“A little exercise after a flight can work wonders, too, as will a nutritious, homemade meal if you’ve been eating out at restaurants or consuming takeaway during your business travels.”

Caucasian Female Business Traveller in airport lounge

What should employers do to help reduce business travel stress and anxiety?

Employers play an important role in easing business travel anxiety and stress. Every corporate travel plan should ensure there’s enough time for rest breaks and exercise to allow corporate travellers time to rest and recharge. More strategically, corporations should also plan work travel around key business aims and outcomes to ensure the travel is not only necessary but also effective.

“Employers need to be aware of the signs of burnout and stress, particularly for staff who travel frequently,” explains Robertson.

The key symptoms of burnout can include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Visible signs of distress
  • Reduced work performance, such as missing deadlines
  • Inability to get a proper night’s sleep
  • Weakened immune system

“When it comes to reducing business travel anxiety and stress, knowledge is power for both employers and employees,” explains Robertson.

“Employers need to ensure there is open communication between staff and management teams, which will help staff members feel comfortable discussing issues related to business travel anxiety or stress and if they’re affecting them.

“Employers should also educate their staff on what burnout is and how to spot the symptoms, as well as how to prevent and manage travel-related stress and anxiety symptoms. This includes offering access to the relevant support services as and when required.”

Asian female business traveller on plane

How to avoid stress and anxiety when travelling for work during the COVID-19 pandemic

The uncertain times created by the global coronavirus pandemic reiterate the importance of robust travel risk management strategies for employers and their employees.

Before you – or those you’re responsible for – travel for work reasons during the COVID pandemic, completing the below business travel checklist prior to travel will help reduce any avoidable anxiety or stress:

  • Do your research: are there any restriction or requirements for your intended destination? Conduct a risk assessment to ensure you have current information, such as COVID restrictions, border closures, and international flight requirements
  • Understand testing requirements in advance of travel: tests pre-travel and after arrival, quarantine periods that may apply, and where COVID testing and medical facilities are located
  • Pre-book your travel arrangements: lock-in taxi or private vehicle transfers to avoid situations where social distancing might not be possible
  • Prevent infection: practice proper hygiene, and carry masks, hand sanitiser and basic medical supplies with you
  • Be COVID-safe: ensure the workplaces and businesses visited during travel have a COVID-safe plan, including social distancing and work-from-home policies for non-essential employees where possible
  • Identify any pre-existing conditions: do the business travellers have any conditions that may be exacerbated by COVID-19? If so, should they be travelling?
  • Ensure you’re protected: does your corporate travel assistance provider cover travel during the pandemic? Is an exemption application required for travel?
  • Complete a risk assessment: analyse the travel destination/s, and develop an action plan in case you or a staff member become unwell in the destination
  • Collect key contact details: save the phone numbers for the emergency assistance team of your travel assistance provider on your phone and ensure international roaming is activated

For those business travellers who are covered by our travel, medical and security assistance services, Robertson also recommends downloading our World Travel Protection Travel Assist app prior to leaving on a business trip to ensure you receive location alerts relevant to you to reduce risks.

“Knowing our team will alert you directly should you be in any imminent danger – and help you if you need support – helps reduce stress and anxiety levels of business travellers.”

Find out how we can help support the mental health of your business travellers

To learn more about how our World Travel Protection team can help you or your business manage travel anxiety and travel health issues, schedule a demo of our Travel Risk Management Solutions.