I have been traveling in India and Europe. When traveling long distances, I am always remind of three travel truisms. The details vary with each trip and each destination, but the basic elements remain unchanged.
It's A Long Way To Tipperary
First, the planet is a big place, as anyone who has spent more than twenty-four hours in transit knows. The combination of a long, international flight, followed by a bleary eyed layover in an international airport, then a second, long, international flight, and finally, the inevitable taxi ride ride to one's destination really brings this home.
As I look back on over twenty five years of international travel, I think my longest time in transit, excepting flight cancelations, was a forty hour trip from Jakarta to Champaign, when I was at the University of Illinois (UIUC). My longest single flight was a non-stop from New York to Bangkok. (Trivia question: What is the longest regularly scheduled non-stop flight? Answer: Newark to Singapore.)
At subsonic speeds, there is simply no escape from the the mathematics of time and distance. I realize the economics and environmental issues surrounding supersonic transport (SST) doomed the Concorde. Despite the complexity, I still dream of the suborbital transport that is described so cavilierly in science fiction novels. A semi-ballistic suborbital flight could cross the Atlantic in less than an hour. Such is the stuff of dreams.
Email at 3 AM
The second truism of international travel is jet lag. No matter what your personal or business agenda, you can expect to awaken sometime in the wee hours of the morning. I have discovered one virtue in this. It is an opportunity to catch up on the inevitable deluge of email from the office, leveraging our now ubiquitious and inexpensive global communication infrastructure. (See The World Is Small.) After twenty minutes or so, I can go back to sleep.
The downside of jet lag, of course, is the desperate struggle to remain awake in the middle of the day. Hence, I never refuse an offer of coffee or tea when traveling internationally. It is both socially polite and practically helpful. (See Joe, Java, Espresso: Fueling Innovation.)
It's A Global Village
Finally, the world really is a global village. News travels fast, for we are ever more interconnected. Yet I love the diversity of cultures, architectures, cuisines and experiences and I bemoan some of the homogenization that interconnection has brought.
Perhaps even more importantly, people are the same everywhere, with hopes and dreams, fears and concerns, joys and sorrows. It's important to remember that, as we work together to solve the pressing problems of the 21st century.
Now, I need a cup of Joe or a nap. Maybe both.