Hitting the road

Travel certainly rates as one of the most pleasant surprises of my job: before joining Dennis as a Staff Writer I had no idea that magazine work would ever require a passport. As it is, I’ve done plenty of mundane travel around the UK – exploring the glamour of Sutton Coldfield, for example – but I’ve also been lucky enough to visit China, Korea, Singapore, the US and most of Western Europe over the past six or so years.

The downside of travelling for work is that, no matter how wonderful it is to get to places that I could never otherwise afford to visit, these trips are never holidays. For one thing, Helen’s not there. And of course there’s work to be done – never fun when jet lag is scrambling your brain backwards, for example, and you’re trying desperately to plug credit card details into a completely incomprehensible foreign website to buy wireless internet access to send your emails.

And of course there’s seldom any free time. Sometimes we get half a day or so off if the job runs for several days, and in Singapore our six-day schedule allowed a whole day to roam the city, but I flew in and out of China in 24 hours – there wasn’t a free minute to look beyond the hotel, let alone explore the town. I’m still glad of the opportunity to see new places, but I can see why someone might want to pack it in for a year and travel the world properly.

And so tomorrow, if all goes to plan, I’m off to California. The first three days should be as usual: about 16 hours of travel to get there then two days of press conferences, interviews and, hopefully, some interesting news to write up. Rather than starting my fourth day in a mad dash to the airport, though, I’m picking up a hire car – I’ve delayed my return for a few days in the hope of actually seeing the America that lurks beyond the city limits, and which to date I’ve entirely missed out on (although having just read this I’ll be sticking religiously to the speed limit, so who knows how far I’ll get). Past performance is no guarantee of future results, but I’d expect a deluge of shoddily taken Flickr photos in a week or so.