Monday, September 05, 2016

Decelerating Travel

Back in June, I posted a cri de coeur on the travel schedule that I have been enduring this year.  That sequence of trips was my breaking point on travel for the year: amidst using 17 airplanes to visit five widely separated locations over the course of two weeks, I was ready to be done with travel and to just stop moving for a while.

Tired Moose, traveling with Daddy and sending pictures back to Harriet. 

And so, like a good scientist, I sat down with my last five years of travel and crunched some data to find out what has been happening differently.  To my surprise, it turned out that I have actually not been going to more scientific events (at least not a statistically significant number).  Instead, what has increased my travel markedly is something that should have been obvious to me from the start: I moved to Iowa.

Moving to Iowa impacts my travel in three different ways:
  1. Attending events in Boston now requires travel.
  2. Attending events in Washington DC now requires an overnight (or precise scheduling and luck), rather than being an easy down-and-back day trip on the shuttle from Boston.
  3. Events back home in Maine now require serious travel rather than just being a day trip.
So what actually has made this year so intense travel-wise is that I needed to go to Boston and DC a few extra times and I had a few extra life-events to go attend: seven extra trips compared to last year turned survivable into a crisis of too much travel.

Fortunately, I was also able to calculate what I need to do in order for my life to be sustainable in the way that I want it to be: I need to reduce my travel by 40%.  That’s a big enough number that it’s definitely not simple and will require compromises, but it looks like I can do it by shaving pieces here and there, by delegating certain things, and by doing more things remotely when I might otherwise prefer to be there in person.  It’s a bit scary, to be saying “no” to things that otherwise might turn into good opportunities, but I have to remind myself that by doing so, I am allowing myself to say “yes” to other things I value.

Check back in a year or two, and maybe I’ll know how well it’s working out.
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