Travel may broaden the mind, but it can also debilitate the body through sleep disruption, temperature fluctuations and the bugs that swarm through aircraft cabins on gusts of recycled air.
Hence the family had first-hand experience of three different health systems during our travels.
Our New York hotel referred us to a Fifth Avenue medic with an impressive range of distinctions, including being the American Academy of Home Care Physicians' House Call Doctor of the Year.
When not grumbling about Barack Obama and high taxes - he was considering emigrating to Singapore or Norway - he was genial and thorough. Consultation cost: $324. Cost of antibiotics: $76.
The only option on a wet weekend in the West Wales town of Carmarthen was the local hospital's slightly forbidding accident and emergency department. On arrival we were advised it would take two and a half hours to see a nurse, and who knew how long to see a doctor. But a triage nurse came within half an hour and shortly thereafter a doctor, a warm, efficient Portuguese woman who surely wasn't as young as she looked. Consultation: nil. Antibiotics: nil.
Less than an hour after ringing SOS Medicins, whose receptionist spoke very good English, an equally bilingual doctor knocked on the door of our Paris apartment. He was pleasantly brisk and left nothing to chance, prescribing a drug to treat every symptom I had and a few I didn't have just to be on the safe side. Consultation: $140. Antibiotics: $23.50.
Each system worked in its own way but, unless you're peculiarly fond of Wales, I suggest you don't leave home without travel insurance.
Shame in high places
A fortnight ago I suggested England's parliamentary paedophiles scandal could end in a bonfire of the reputations.
This week, Margaret Thatcher's former personal bodyguard, a detective inspector, revealed he warned her that her parliamentary private secretary, Sir Peter Morrison, was taking part in sex parties involving underage boys. Thatcher promptly appointed Morrison, who died in 1995, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.
When I worked in London in the 1980s, my boss was told by his neighbour, a policeman in the VIP protection squad, that a senior Tory minister was a sexual pervert of the worst kind. This ex-grandee is still with us and, lo and behold, his name is popping up in coverage of the wider scandal.
Pay to go?
It's not rightIt's irritating to have to rent airport luggage trolleys or fork out for plastic bags after spending a couple of hundred dollars at a supermarket, but at least there's a recognisable principle involved: user pays. I could have worn the same pair of underpants for a fortnight like a particularly anti-social terrorist or packed eco-friendly hemp shopping bags, but I chose not to.
However, if there's one human activity to which the user-pays principle surely cannot be applied, it's the bodily functions euphemistically known as "going to the toilet". To make travellers pay for access to a toilet is not civilised.
If an evil genius devoted their life to creating an airport specifically designed to generate inhuman levels of stress, I doubt they could do any better than the monstrosity that is Paris Charles De Gaulle.
Football without goals
A half century of World Cup misery seems to have squeezed the last drop of optimism out of England's football followers. There was little evidence of anger or despair over the national team's early and undignified exit from Brazil 2014. There didn't even seem to be any stomach for a post-mortem.
The Guardian asked 24 football writers "What now for England?". Only one saw a faint flicker of light at the end of the tunnel: "This is no time to rip things up entirely. There is promise out there."
The other responses ranged from flippancy ("It's easy to point the finger at the manager, but I'd point the finger at the manager") to cynicism ("Building on that heroic 0-0 draw with Costa Rica"). But the common theme was a fatalistic acceptance that the future will be just as dismal as the past.
Facts of political life
This quote from Jean-Claude Juncker, a former Prime Minister of Luxembourg who recently became President of the EU Commission, pretty much sums up party politics: "We know what to do. We just don't know how to get re-elected after we've done it."
Ah, yes ...
While staring out the window of a train trundling through southwest England, I noticed the reflected image of the man across the aisle. He was drilling deep into his ear with his little finger and consuming the fruits of his excavations. It's funny what makes you think of home.