Summary: The travails of modern travel or why I disagree with RLS Description: “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive” .

September – the conference season for many academics. A time for renewing old friendships and making new acquaintances: a time of learning new things and sharing your own knowledge and expertise: a happy time, a time of pleasant experiences often in foreign lands. Or is it? Let me paint another scenario – perhaps a more familiar and realistic one.

Your University insists you use their preferred travel company ‘Incompetent Tours Ltd– ‘no mistake knowingly left unmade’ to make the arrangements. These individuals seem unable to use the common internet tools that most independent travellers use and consequently your journey makes the Kon Tikki expedition look like a pedalo on the park lake. So your arrived at the airport in good time which usually means the night before a midday flight as naturally you have not been able to check in on line. Not only is the server down but the 4 interconnecting flight are with different airlines one of which looks suspiciously like the one that went into liquidation last week.. After four goes at using the check-in machines in the airport (the first three times it denies your existence), clutching your boarding pass you stagger to the large queue laughing called the fast bag drop. Eventually you wave your bag a fond farewell not knowing when or if you will ever see it again. You hear a muffled clunk – it’s not call bag drop for nothing.

Sheep-like you make your way to security. Already oliguric because of the time since you left home and the knowledge that you cannot take any water with you into departures you shuffle forwards over a distance that in fact is only a few yards as the crow flies but which takes the formation of the path through the IKEA showroom, and takes at least 45 minutes to traverse. As you approach the x-ray machine confusion descends do they want your computer out of its protective bag or not, shoes off or not. Will your propelling pencil be identified as an offensive weapon? Whatever you have decide to take off and whatever you have put in whatever tray they provide for x-raying will inevitably be wrong – so resign yourself to this. Despite divesting yourself of absolutely everything you still set of the alarm as you go through, necessitating the cold end of the security officer's probe. So far this year I’ve had to take off my watch – Norway, socks (!) – Dublin, earrings - USA and spectacles – Malaysia. If not for the radiation doses it would be quicker to put yourself bodily through the scanner.

So looking forward to the AMEE 2013 meeting I can’t agree with Robert Louis Stevenson and although I’m hoping that my trip to Prague will be smooth and straight forward I am very much looking forward to arriving! See you there....