Riding a plane to a foreign land sounds fun but do it 100 times a year and the novelty quickly wears off
I travel a lot for work.
The funny thing about that statement is that even as I write it, I get a sense of how arrogant it sounds. In fact, when I read it in my head, I do so with a snobby voice and while wearing sunglasses indoors.
But anyone else who travels regularly for work will know straight away that I'm not bragging. I'm doing something quite the opposite and yet - just as annoying - whinging.
Work travel isn't all it's cracked up to be. I've done nearly 100 flights in the past year or so, and while the first 10 of them were pretty fun, the novelty has since worn thin.
I remember how when I was a child my mum would also complain about occasional work trips away, while I stood there in dismay wondering how someone could be dreading going on a plane while I was off to spend my day cooped up in a classroom. I may have even voiced that opinion, and the phrase "be careful what you wish for" may have been thrown around. Possibly, maybe, mum might have been right again.
Most of us have one of those friends who are always posting glamorous pictures of yet another city, another hotel room with a view, another lunch on the company's money.
Regardless of whether you're off to spend your day in a classroom or an office, it's understandably tempting to develop a little envy when you see their latest Instagrams. Trust me, that envy is misplaced.
If you think I'm still whinging, take science's word for it. A study from the University of Surrey has found that frequent travel for work "has a wide range of physiological, psychological and emotional, and social consequences that are often overlooked, because being a 'road warrior' tends to get glamorised through marketing and social media".
To summarise it, they've basically found strong links between frequent business travel and everything that's bad - ageing, strokes, obesity, heart attacks, depression and anxiety, memory loss, reduced immune system, and more. It's pretty shocking at first, but when you think about it, it's not hard to see why that science stacks up.
Being on the road has a certain proclivity to making going to the gym a lot harder, and ordering room service a lot easier. You're spending the day sitting on a plane, eating - there goes your active lifestyle and healthy eating. Sure enough, the study found frequent travellers had higher than average obesity rates.
Then there's jetlag. If you've flown to or from Aussie, you're now at least two hours out of sync, which doesn't sound like much, but certainly feels like it when you've just arrived in NZ and you can't sleep until 1am (which feels like 11pm) and then have to get up at 6am (which feels like 4am). There goes your rest. Disruption of the circadian rhythm has not only been linked to accelerated ageing, but also reduced sleep quality for up to a week, and altering mood and judgment.
If you've had to catch a flight, then chances are something is high stakes or important. The emails are still coming in thick and fast, and you're not seeing them. Your workload isn't going anywhere just because you are. This all throws a little stress into the mix. By yourself and away from all family and friends, in an empty hotel room and without anyone to lean on, your mental health is going to take a knock.
And between the running to gates, waiting in queues, fighting your neighbour for the armrest, and making sure your phone is on airplane mode lest it be your fault we fall out of the sky, airline travel isn't too easy at the best of times.
Top that off with someone telling you that you're being ungrateful and you should feel lucky for being able to take a trip, and you can see how you might get an eye-rolling response.
People are quick to jump to the connotation of a glamorous, rock-star lifestyle, while ignoring the darker side of the physiological and psychological effects of life up in the air.
Is it essential? Generally. Is it worth it to me, personally, to be able to share my story?
Absolutely. But is it half the fun I expected? Not close. Sorry Mum.