I find myself traveling quite a bit again these days. I used to travel a lot for meetings to discuss and plan research cruises when I worked for the USAP, then not so much during my rather brief stint in science publishing. Now it’s back to a relatively busy travel schedule.
Then my travel was mainly in the US – sometimes to the East Coast, sometimes to the West Coast, depending on which large US oceanographic research institute happened to have the lead in the project I was supporting. Now I am going to places like Paris, Brussels, Grenoble and… Culham in Oxfordshire.)
Regardless of where I’m going though, what I have never been very good at is planning in enough time for some sightseeing and, generally, the good things in life.
My PhD project involved a lot of traveling to and from Chile – the USAP supports work around the Antarctic Peninsula from Punta Arenas. Did I make time for a tour of amazing Patagonia? Barely: together with a few other PhD students and post docs, we squeezed in a 1.5 day trip to Torres del Paine.
My excuses at the time were my extremely tight field work schedule, which involved a turn-around of only two months in the lab (at a maximum) between research cruises, and a thin wallet.
So I get to see airports, planes, trains, metros… and meeting rooms all over the world. Sometimes it’s fun (in an – admittedly – sick way) to compare the different buildings and meeting rooms: who has a fancy new one with all the latest equipment and who is stuck in the seventies or eighties concerning the interior is not always predictable and sometimes surprising in an amusing kind of way. Let’s just say that just because someone is sending rockets into space doesn’t necessarily mean that the air conditioning unit in the meeting room has to be functioning reliably.
On my return travel from such trips, I regularly resolve to plan the next trip with more time. But I never do, although my excuses have changed over time (the biggest one for a while now has been a swift return to my family). Which doesn’t keep me from being jealous of people who manage to combine business and pleasure in a more productive way though…