A common response I get from people when I say I'm going to <insert luxurious/romantic tropical destination> for work is "Oh wow, that will be an awesome holiday, I'm so jealous."
And from the photos I take and share on social media, you would definitely think 'fieldwork' is a holiday.
But of course I only post the 'fun' looking things.
I don't mention that we work nearly 24/7, averaging 2-4 hours sleep per night for the month-long trip. Or that I actually usually spend 8+ hours a day locked-up, inside a laboratory filtering seawater. Or scrubbing algae and gunk from coral tanks. Or multitasking and trying to complete fieldwork, run experiments in the lab, process data for colleagues, while analysing data from previous trips, writing manuscripts and submitting grant applications. That doesn't sound as interesting as what people imagine these trips to be....
So usually my response is "Yeh, it's such a beautiful place, I'm so lucky."
See if you believe me from the photos below!
The reason we work so hard on these trips is because we have applied for very competitive grants to allow us to complete the work. And usually you only get one field-trip per year for a project, so you make the most of every second there, collecting as much data as possible, so you can write more papers, get a really good track record, apply for more funding, keep your job, do more fieldwork and so on!
For example - this trip to French Polynesia for accommodation/flights for 5 people from Spain was roughly $25,000 AUD. On top of that, we had to ship our equipment which was about $15,000 (one way...), ship our samples back to Spain which was approx. $8,000. Then there was food for the group of 11. And their flights/accommodation costs. So it's not a cheap exercise!
You could also have an extremely luxurious 'real' holiday on your own private island for this price...
- Steph XO