Gosh, I love my bed and my pillow is an absolute bliss!

After two weeks, two countries (Mexico and Brazil) and three cities (Mexico City, Rio and Sao Paolo) I’m finally back home.

I travel a lot for work. Still long – both in distance and time – trips are unusual for me.

Before time puts its mark on my experiences and the lessons I learned, here are the things that are worth watching.

#1. Read on the places you are visiting. And I’m not thinking about getting to know what’s worth seeing in the two or three hours free hours you have. Getting to know a bit more about the local culture, conditions and crime rates can be a saviour. Did I mention that I’m never allowed to go out on my own in Mexico City? Or that Rio is safe if you keep to the wealthier, well-appointed and lively parts of the city?

#2. Pack carefully. Being away for two weeks is hard: you need to pack enough clothes and no more. My preference is always to travel as light as I can and this needs careful planning of outfits. Oh, and when you travel for work you can’t wear the same pair of shorts for a week.

#3. Don’t carry paper. There was a time when most of the weight of my luggage was from paper: books, my papers to finish, other people’s papers to review, books to read. I’ve entered the ‘paperless world’ and since the invention of the iPad all I need in on it. I love it!

#4. Not all flight upgrades are created equal. Being a professor is not always fun; particularly when you travel for events organised by UK public organisation. In such cases, you should be prepared to travel 11-17 hours in economy class and will be expected to arrive where you are going ready to perform to a very high standard. And I’m getting a bit too old for this sh*t and have started booking upgrades. On the way to Mexico City, the upgrade was a great disappointment – I have leg room but the seat was so small that the flight was a nightmare of constricted bottoms and bumping shoulders and elbows.

#5. Check the currencies. There was a time when we didn’t have much choice: travellers had to take money with them so we always checked the currency rates. Today, having access to our bank accounts is easy – we just need to waive our credit/debit cards and find an ATM machine. This is how, if you don’t make sure you know that exchange rate, you can get in trouble. I almost did by decided that the British pound is 12 Brazilian reals when it is only 4.30. You see the problem? It’s a good thing I didn’t go shopping for precious stones!

#6. Jack Reacher may be right. You know Reacher? Lee Child’s fictional character that women want and men want to be like? He is THE minimalist and doesn’t even own a change of clothes – he buys new when he needs to change and claims it is cheaper. Guess what? He may be right. Having your washing done in hotels is so expensive that it’s certainly cheaper to buy new; especially underwear.

#7. Work and pleasure. When you travel for work you don’t see the world, you only see the parts of the world you are already too familiar with. You see airports, hotels, posh(er) neighbourhoods and talk to the 5% of humanity you talk to anyway. For me, it’s still a way to scout the places and decide where I’d like to go with John and our son. I’m positive, we’ll go to Prague, Rio and Santiago.

Here are two more pictures from Rio: Copa Cabana beach and the laguna.