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The rise of the super-commuter
A commute between San Francisco and Hong Kong can create more problems than just jet lag.
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Biz Traveller
Travel and Commuting

LONDON, England (CNN) -- For some, a long commute means sitting in a car for an hour before arriving at the office, while for others a trip to the office can mean flying to another continent.

A globalized workforce, higher salaries in urban centers and flexible working practices mean that some people now have a long-haul lifestyle -- they have to pass through airport customs each week just to get to the office.

With affordable air travel, a new generation of super-commuters are joining the payroll -- business travelers who are more than happy to fly long distances just to get to work.

The next time you complain about your long journey to the office, spare a thought for Patrick Larvie. He commutes between San Francisco and Hong Kong every two weeks.

"People think I lead a glamorous life and I am very happy to entertain that fantasy," he says.

"The reality is quite different, but I really like having my feet in two cultures, two different places and two different worlds."

Larvie has multiple bank accounts and sets of clothes that live in two different closets on two different continents.

"I have two sets of friends, two sets of business contacts. I have to know a good place to get my haircut in Hong Kong and a good place in San Francisco," he explains.

For super-commuters, finding a good hairstylist is one of the minor details. With so much time on the road, one of the key factors is to create a life away from the office and the super-commute, as well as develop meaningful relationships with people.

"It is difficult to remain close to people when you are far away," says Larvie.

"You have to come up with strategies -- text messaging, gossiping late at night and photo sharing all work. People change (while I am away) and people have different lives -- they are not going to wait for me."

For executives in Europe, cheaper tickets on Eurostar now make the commute across the English Channel affordable. According to the train operator, 50 percent of the passengers who use the London to Paris route are commuters.

"When I travel between London and Paris I feel like I am almost taking the subway," says Felix Marquardt, who works for the International Herald Tribune newspaper and commutes between his home in Paris and the office in London."

"It is quite an easy thing to do and the trip is not very long."

Europe's growing legion of low cost airlines are also seeing this trend; easyJet estimates that up to 10,000 of its weekly passengers are commuters.

"Super-commuters on easyJet tend to be male, 50 to 60-years-old, they are people who have made a lot of money in the London area," says Toby Nicol, public relations manager of easyJet.

"They have taken that money and they now live in southern Spain or southern France, perhaps even Geneva. They leave their homes early Monday morning and are back on the last flight on Friday."

Super-commuting is not without its costs, especially on health. "For someone who chronically commutes, it has very detrimental effects. One of the first things we look for is depression," says Kathleen Hall, a work-life balance expert.

"These people have to be completely disciplined -- that is the number one thing -- if they are not disciplined they will self-destruct."

Larvie finds that exercise helps counteract the stressful long-haul lifestyle, but he is also weighing up the long-term psychological aspects of the super-commute.

"The biggest problem with this life is knowing that it cannot go on forever," he says. "When I am jet-lagged and wake up in the night, I'm not quite sure where I am."

It also creates issues on where the super-commuter's home is.

"The home is where I am. If I think that I am 'away' from home at any stage then I will go crazy. If I think of San Francisco as my home and Hong Kong as away from home I will never be happy," explains Larvie.

"But there are times when I would really just like to have a garden and a dog."

CNN's Shantelle Stein and Rosalind Chin contributed to this report

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