This week is one of the most hectic I’ve had in a while. I spent most of Monday in Pittsburgh, then flew to Boston through Wednesday morning to attend and write for the NatureJobs Career Expo. I spent barely 24 hours back in Pittsburgh, and now I am visiting my family in New Jersey until Monday. Whew! I haven’t done this much traveling all at once since I was interviewing for grad schools last year.
Which brings me to my question: do I like traveling? I suppose the short answer is, yes. I like places, and I like seeing and experiencing new and different places, and being able to talk about them afterward. I like to do things and I like to keep busy, and being somewhere I have never been before certainly allows that to happen. But I’m not sure those qualities actually fall under the category of traveling, when it really comes down to it- and I’m less and less enamored with the actual trip of getting to where I want to be the more I have to do so. I’m being quite specific about this: I actually don’t mind airports; I think they are interesting places! But I do not love flying, nor do I love driving long distances by myself (an unfortunate side effect of not having people geographically close to me who want to go places), the two modes of transportation I have used most frequently recently.
Yet when I think long term about how I want my life to pan out, the list of places I want to visit keeps getting longer. There are places I want to go back to, and ones I’ve never been to before. There’s a whole wide world out there, and more recently, I’ve also realized that I need (and now want) to see more of the United States as well. So I suppose that traveling comes with the territory. I met a fellow when I was in Boston who literally had never left the state of Massachusetts in his entire life- 50+ years! I simply can’t imagine living like that. I’m already well above that in terms of the places I have been, but grad student life, what with its constraints on both time and budget, is not so conducive to perpetuating that over the next 5 years. Hopefully I’ll get to go to one or two conferences a year through my lab, plus a few other “for fun” conferences and/or short trips/vacations separately on my own. I’m also going to push to spend a few months doing research abroad, since I recently discovered a few programs in Europe that allow current PhD candidates from the United States to do just that. However it pans out, though, I know that as much as the traveling gets the better of me sometimes, it’s a small price to pay for exploring everything this world has to offer.