Doing good by staying put?

Recently I participated in a series of small meetings with prominent scientists. Over dinner the discussion turned to recent and upcoming travel. Summers in Aspen or Wyoming or Nova Scotia. Trips to Paris, Venice, Rome, Sienna, Melbourne, Singapore, Buenas Aires, Rio, … you get the picture. Sabbaticals here – field research there. For all of the complaining (the other most popular topic is the lack of funding!) the picture emerges once again of what a priviledged life academic scientists live. Non-scientists are often awed by the far reaching experiences researchers enjoy. Exciting work, bright colleagues, eager trainees, fascinating travel.
AND this got me thinking… so, even while much of this travel is supported by private funds such as meetings hosted by Foundations or disease organizations and some of the travel costs were born by companies or covered under consultancies rather than re-imbursement from research grants (although certainly research grants also cover travel -particularly to professional society meetings) – MUCH of the travel expenses are, in one way or another, still coming from the same pot as direct research funding. SO — what if all scientists agreed that they would travel less – say 50% – and divert the funds for meetings, workshops, conferences, lectures (these in particular can easily be replaced by electronic tools) back into the LAB research budget? We could accomplish several things with 1 stone:
1) less time away from home; 2) energy and water resources saved; 3) more money for research. Worth considering? And with the time saved – researchers could actually go on a proper vacation – but paid for with their own dime, like regular folk.