When travel stress comes with the job

Travel-related stress – no one wants it, everyone faces it

Maryalicia Post

Posted: Monday, September 3, 2018

Not so long ago if you told people you did a bit of travelling for work (as I do, and as many ophthalmologists do) they’d say how lucky you were. No longer. What’s changed? Travel-related stress. No one wants it, everyone faces it.

In 2016, undertook a survey to quantify the causes of travel stress, questioning more than 4,555 respondents who travelled at least four times a year. Of them, 93% suffered from stress at some point in their journey. The top three worries: missing a flight (32% of respondents), language barrier on arrival (26%) and the possibility that luggage would be lost (22%).

Oddly, my own biggest worry was way down the list – losing my passport, a concern only 18% of my fellow passengers share. Nonetheless, I’ve had mine stolen in a New York airport and again on La Rambla in Barcelona. In my opinion, no experience comes close in terms of inconvenience and, yes, stress. Now I carry a photo copy of the passport and a spare credit card separately and hang the originals around my neck the way pilgrims to Santiago once carried a scallop shell.

I don’t worry about the language barrier; there’s an app for that. I use Google Translate. There are others – for an overview:

But cancelled flights do come in second for me, ever since the frantic scramble for a seat on an onward flight after a cancellation in Catania, Sicily. I had a top-level frequent flyer card on the air-line in question, and discovered loyalty pays! I also had a membership card giving me access to a lounge where the receptionist mercifully sorted my ticket.

My own third concern – an accident abroad – didn’t figure in the survey. But when I woke up in a Boston hospital a day after being concussed by a falling roof tile (I didn’t see that coming!), I couldn’t remember where I was staying, or where my belongings were. Now I carry a card from the hotel I’ve checked into – ‘just in case’.

There’s not much you can do about the stress of lost luggage, aside from carrying essentials in your hand luggage. However, stuck without my bags in Lyon, Air France provided me with an overnight amenity kit containing a toothbrush, an oversized tee shirt, two aspirin and a condom. Now that’s one worry off my mind.