Why do I travel? I don't enjoy at all the act of traveling despite the advantage of non-stop flights to nearly everywhere from Chicago. The tourism bit has long lost its allure. After a while all the cities and universities start to look the same.
I don't need to travel. I could hole up in Chicago, just work with the students and visitors and have a moderate research career. I have tenure so my job is safe in any case. So why travel?
- People: Working with people, talking with people, drinking with people. Traveling to visit different people keeps my research and academic life from getting stale.
- Getting Away: Like most people, I have considerable work and family responsibilities and travel allows me to escape and have time to focus on research. When I visit someone for a short time they will usually make time to work with me as well. The internet has prevented me from completely escaping but I can usually tell people I'm away and I will deal with the problem when I get back. I do try to keep to a goal of not leaving the family for more than a week at a time.
- Being Involved: If you want to be an active member of the community people need to know who you are. Don't travel and people will forget you. Email is not a good substitute for meeting face to face.