On the eight-hour round trip across southern England today to get to the home of Crawley Town FC for a game in the fourth tier, there's plenty of time to think.
Of those who are intrigued to see Wes Hoolahan still playing away, at the age of 38, one of those most surprised is Wes Hoolahan himself. He will be just short of 39 when the current season wraps up, though if things carry on as they have started for Cambridge United, that could lead to promotion as the club have enjoyed a thrilling start to the season.
He laughs off the suggestion that he could be around again next season in League One, making it clear that experience tells him that League Two is a slog from week to week and a table-topping side can quickly find themselves in mid-table, if they get notions about themselves. But, for now, the veteran is enjoying the ride.
"When I started off, way back when with Shels, you look at how the game was then and I thought if I could get to 34 and still be playing I'd be happy," says Hoolahan.
"But the game has changed, sports science, diet, you can play for a lot longer if you look after yourself. If you eat well and prepare well you can prolong your career. I'll be 39 at the start of next season so I don't know if I could go again, I'm just concentrating on this season and see what happens.
"In lockdown you were stuck inside for six months and you had time to think. I looked after myself, the body felt good and the opportunity was there to go to Cambridge. Having days off, not having to train as much as I'd have done in the past, that all helps."
So his mind has turned back to the very start, when he started out as a footballer who didn't know how to look after himself.
"As you grow up you learn, when you're young you don't know better," he recalls, looking back to the days when, after training with Shelbourne, refuelling meant chicken fillet rolls on white bread, and worse.
"At 21 you go for a few pints with the boys, snackboxes and wurly burgers and sausage in batter," Hoolahan recalls.
"They are the best things ever at 21, you see everyone else eating them and you want them for yourself, they're great when you are eating them but as you get older you learn."
Now, the wurly burgers are off the menu. "I do a lot of stretching, yoga now and again, pilates, protein shakes to keep you ticking over," he says.
He can't ignore the passage of time, which is why Hoolahan has an arrangement with the Cambridge manager to take a back seat for certain matches: having started the first five games of the season, he sat out the last two but is expected to return today, away to Crawley.
"The manager (Mark Bonner) has been great with me, looking after me with days off here and there, he can pull me for the odd game if he feels that's the right thing to do," he says. "He trusts me to tell him if the body is ready to play, it can be tough in this league, with two games a week."
Cambridge is a 45-minute drive from his home outside Norwich but away games can be tough: a recent match at Exeter City meant a six-hour drive and an overnight stay. Age is also a factor, as Hoolahan now has teammates young enough to be his sons, and he's more likely to see former teammates in the opposition dugout than on the field of play.
Cambridge United wasn't part of the original plan and is a consequence of Covid-19. He joined Australian side Newcastle Jets last year but a serious injury sustained in pre-season held him back and even though he returned to the side, last February, the arrival of coronavirus and the premature end to the A-League season prompted a return to his UK base. Newcastle Jets remained keen and offered him a new deal but a second stint so far away, during a global pandemic, was too risky and Hoolahan opted for another spell in English football, with Cambridge, though he admits to feeling "guilty" that injury meant he could not deliver for Newcastle.
Covid has caused complications. Hoolahan regrets that he can't take his son to see his old club, Norwich City, and of course his planned trips to Dublin over the summer to take in games at the Euro 2020 finals did not come to pass.
Even at a distance, Hoolahan has kept an eye on affairs at home, and he admits his interest in the national team has been raised by Stephen Kenny, having battled with Kenny's Bohemians side at Shels.
"I have seen the games under Stephen, we are playing well, creating a lot of chances but they're not going in, we should have been 2-0 up against Slovakia so it's disappointing to lose on penalties, the lads didn't deserve to go out like that but if it keeps evolving and the team keep playing the way they have been they will continue to create chances and it's only a matter of scoring them," says Hoolahan.
"For the young boys coming through it's brilliant for them, to have a manager who wants to play that way, to entertain people and it is a pity I'm not 28 again but things happen for a reason and I can't complain about what I achieved for Ireland and the caps I did get.
"We need to stick at it. We are playing good football, things haven't happened at the right times. It was a tough few weeks for Stephen but hopefully he can turn the corner and get some results."
Two players from the current crop stand out for him, one from Waterford and one a north inner city boy like himself. "Jayson Molumby, he was brilliant at home to Wales," says Hoolahan.
"And I'd love to see Jack Byrne get a chance, he was unlucky not to get game-time as he's been doing so well for Rovers, he's one of those players who is a bit different. He's from my neck of the woods, a Ballybough boy, and he plays a bit like me, he likes to get on the ball and create things, so I'd like to see Jack do well with Ireland, he's been great for Rovers but I'd be surprised if he doesn't go back to England."
Right now the focus is on Cambridge as plans to set up his own academy in Dublin are on hold, another consequence of Covid-19, and coaching badges can also wait. "I don't know if I'll go down that route, I just want to play as long as I can," he says.