I always thought it strange that we get tired during air travel. After all, there is no heavy labour involved in it – just sitting in a chair, mostly. Today, I think I figured out what the most exhausting aspect is. It is worrying about missing a connecting flight, losing a passport or forgetting some other small detail. Generally, it is the amount of new information that comes our way during travel, all of it new (for which we don’t have routines refined by everyday practice) and requiring immediate action (e.g. Your gate has changed – go there now!)
Also, there is inevitable frustration when our mental models of how things should go don’t match the reality. On our way back to Canada, for example, it took us more than an hour to pay the extra luggage fee at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport. So even though we came to the airport well in advance, we were in a rush not to miss the flight.
Having said this, I believe a healthy dose of stress every now and then is needed to maintain flexibility and openness of the mind. At least, that’s the only way I can put a positive spin on being tired at the moment.