Well, compared to the past year and a bit... I've been travelling a bit more for music work. It is still a trickle in comparison to what it used to be, but it does mean that my wife has not had such a stressful time juggling kids and her own work whilst I've been away.
Getting back into the routine of travelling has been a little bit of a wake up call as well. Before the pandemic, we were always hyper-organised about travel arrangements and babysitting and all the rest of that sort of thing. Everything would be clearly marked and planned out a month in advance. So, it was a bit weird to start trying to do that again... at least for the couple of weeks in the near future where I'm going to be a away again!
It was strange making contact with past babysitters... whom we haven't asked for near on a year now. Seeing if they are still doing babysitting, or if they have found other work after completing their studies. Two of the babysitters are now in other work following their studies... but the other two are still happy to watch our kids. So much changes over that year...
I've never liked being away from home, so in many ways the past year has been quite nice for me... other than the fact that there was a bit less money! But the idea of constantly moving and performing is not really as glamorous as it might sound to an outsider!
Now, with the added risk of getting sick away from home and being unable to travel... all at your own expense. Well, it starts to get a little bit more stressful!
Oddly enough, many of my colleagues on this particular trip had not travelled at all since the start of the pandemic. When you are a freelancer, you always have that impression that everyone else is doing better than you and that it is quite difficult to shake the feeling that you are one step away from falling behind.... however, my wife keeps telling me that I do just as well or better than most of my colleagues when it comes to landing work, and that it is just the difference in the way that people present themselves publicly.
For instance, often when a group of musicians get together, there is an horrific phase (which sometimes never stops) of name-dropping and "accidentally" naming groups and recent projects. I generally stay out of these talks, and never feel the need to tell others who I've been playing with or what I have been doing. Meh... those talks just irritate me. I rarely want to talk about music when I'm working... and especially not with musicians!
So, it turns out that Schiphol was a great deal busier than the last time I had visited. The automatic check-in desks which airlines had invested so much time and effort into are still not being used... every traveller needs to submit a PCR/Antigen test result that needs to be inspected by a human... and the rules for what is required is different for different destinations and different traveller nationalities. Plus, they change (are updated...) fairly regularly in reaction to changes of country status and domestic policies. Most of the time, it can be quite innocuous and won't really affect most people... and other times, it can be a right pain in the arse as you scramble to try and stay on the right side of the laws! It doesn't help that most of the guidelines can have some pretty huge gray areas....
I saw that there was at least one traveller fell foul and wasn't allowed to book. I'm not entirely what the problem was... something to do with the tests required, and the fact that she was a dual national and so had different rules depending on whether she was one nationality or the other?
Anyway, we made it to our destination... these days, most of the trips are short affairs, as it the added complexity and risk in planning multi-stage tours is just too much to contemplate for most groups at the moment!
So, I have a few hours to kill... I've always thought that this was the least fun part of performing in concerts... you generally do the concert at the end of a day. So, you sort of need to kill time during the rest of the day (which is easier if you are at home...)... but still somehow be in peak condition in the evening! So, when you are in a strange land, you have this sort of weird balance between doing stuff... but not too much that you end up to tired... or drunk!