Yesterday I spent 6-1/2 hours on the Acela (including one hour of train delay) in order to round-trip to Washington and spend 2 hours at a conference, including a 40 minute stretch when I was the speaker. (Rising corporate residence electivity paper on international tax, which also rethinks the broader basic issues a bit; paper is available here and the slides for the talk are here.)
The ratio between the travel time and the payoff certainly makes one wonder a bit. And this is one reason for my moving the colloquium to Tuesdays for next year - at least I can spread the travel over 2 days and attend more sessions at the conferences where I give talks.
But nonetheless, no regrets. I get a lot of work done on the train; the opportunity to discuss and get exposure for one's ideas is a big part of the biz (especially since everyone is too busy to read anything not immediately germane to their current projects); you get feedback and hear about other people's intellectual interests and concerns, which can be very broadening; and you keep running into old friends who are also doing the Grand Tour or who made it to a particular stop.
UPDATE: Next stop on the tour is Monday, but just a train ride away in midtown. I'll be doing a short video interview on marriage penalty-type issues that the Wall Street journal website will post on-line as part of a set of videos honoring (if that's the word) the rapid approach of April 15.