For those working in DFIR, there are some who don’t travel, some who travel a lot, and some who travel all the time. Depending on the person, any of these can be enjoyable or exhausting.

Right to the point

If you travel for business, try to carve out a little time for sanity and lifetime experiences. It may not cross your mind at the time, but if you can, ‘stop and smell the roses’. You will do more for yourself than you realize by simply taking a look around, as much as you can, when you can.

You will have regrets

When I worked undercover and traveled, I had a blast. For one, I didn’t foot the bill, practically had an open checkbook for everything, and had either a cover team, rescue team, surveillance team, or a combination of several teams for my work. They did what I called, the boring stuff. They followed me around while I had pretended to have a good time and negotiate deals.  I traveled to many places (not just in my county, or my state, but several states and countries). Here is my memory of most of my “travels”. I can tell you the name of some of the most expensive restaurants, fancy hotels, and crazy nightclubs. I can also tell you about the layout of many FBI, DEA, ICE, and foreign law enforcement offices in each of these places.  Beyond that, didn’t see much. I am certain that I drove by scenic areas and probably some world heritage sites or something, but I never saw more than what I remember doing for work.

For my forensic travels, in the first years outside law enforcement, it was the same. Basically, it was a phone call > engagement letter > next flight out > collect data > first flight back.  Then, rinse and repeat. Again, I can tell you the layout of the general type of airports, office buildings, elevators, and conference rooms. Not much more than that.

A result

I have stamps in my passport from places that I didn’t really visit. Maybe I met a criminal in a bar doing UC work on one trip, or imaged a drive in a cubicle for a forensic gig on another trip. For speaking gigs, it used to be the same thing. Fly in the night before, speak, fly out. One conference room blends into another, just like the airports. Either way, I didn't really "travel" and I never intended to make a vacation out of any work anyway. I don't do that anymore.  I still do the work I am hired to do, but when not being paid after the work is done, and I have that magic element of "a little time" to spend, I spend it.

Work to make it better

Go see something in the places you travel, even if it just a walk around the block.  Do your work, and then do something to reflect on you being on a spot on the globe where you've not been before, or not really seen. I’ve spoken to a Secret Service agent who seriously did world travel with presidential protection. The thing most experienced and remembered in all his travels….stairwells and nothing else. Understandably, those travels probably didn't leave a minute to personal time, but for the rest of us, we generally have a few minutes to spare.

Granted, work comes first, and sometimes you practically have to HALO in and it feels like you are being renditioned in a matter of hours. But when you can, take a breath. I know that many times we create our pressure cooker situations because we thrive on it. A healthier and happier way is really to stop and smell the roses, which means turning off HBO in your hotel room and going outside. Talk to someone at the little shop and actually travel.

ps. thank me later.