Travelling is one of the perks and pains that come with being a professional squash player. When people ask us about it, they can take a negative line: ' All that travelling must be tough!' or a more positive stance: 'It must be a great life: travelling the world and seeing all these different places!'
Some players absolutely hate it. Some accept it. Some actually love it. I have to say I feel happy with most aspects of travel now, and I wonder whether that's because I am so used to it. I struggle to consider what I would do without travelling, its been such a part of my 'working' life. I'm sure too that my girlfriend Vanessa would be unable to stomach that eventuality! My intermittent absences are no doubt a good thing for her....
Last week exposed the difficult side of travel. After coming back on a long trip from Italy via Amsterdam, to Leeds-Bradford on Sunday evening and with a nasty virus rearing its head, I was faced with the thought of being back at the same airport at 8am the following morning for a flight to London, connecting there on to a 12 hour crossing to San Francisco.
In what little time I had on Sunday evening, I unpacked, packed (lots of checking- three weeks away is a fairly long time! Stressful) squeezed in some food at which point Vanessa and I tried to enjoy some final conversation, knowing there was a possibility she could give birth to a child at any point in the duration of my upcoming trip. Inevitably, technology put paid to this as we scrambled about on computers for far longer than we could afford, trying to print off papers and download programmes for the trip ahead. And what is that phenomenon where computers never work when you really need them to? Certainly demoralising.
The Leeds-London flight was delayed, which meant I missed the flight to San Francisco, but with several flights daily I was bumped on to the next one. By now a chesty cold was in full flow and having landed in San Francisco I didn't know whether I was coming or going. The queuing, the packed aeroplane, the lack of space and consequent degeneration of the body, the waiting: the very worst parts about travelling take a heavy toll.
But then, you arrive at a tournament like the one we are playing this week, the Netsuite Open, and it makes up for all that: classy hotel in the Bay, outdoor full glass court fifty yards away, beautiful Autumn sunshine which is just the right side of hot. I'll take all those lousy travel days in order to play my favourite game for a living, in a place like this.
The Netsuite Open finishes on Tuesday. The US OPEN begins on the 11th October in Philadelphia