I'm a grad student in the final term of my 2nd year. In a weekly meeting with my supervisor yesterday, I brought up an upcoming conference in our discipline. This conference is twice-annual and very general, and it is far enough in the future that I don't know how many speakers from our speciality will be there.
It's a 6 hour drive, so not exactly an exotic location, but far enough away that I might not visit this city in my personal time.
I asked my supervisor if he thought I should attend. I first asked him if he had funding for such a trip, which he does, and then asked if there are any upcoming (in the next year) conferences that are more specific to our research speciality, of which he doesn't know any.
Basically the decision came down to me, so I listed some pros and cons with him. Some cons are that there is a relatively high chance of no researchers in our field going to the conference, and if a more relevant conference is announced soon, there may not be enough funding to go to both.
Some pros are, of course, the chance to network with students and faculty from the host university, and to see a new city.
On the second pro, I said "I would like to see [city]". My supervisor gave an odd chuckle, paused for a second, then said in a very solemn tone "of course, the reason to go to [city] is to engage with the [subject] and research there".
After that, we talked about the host university for the conference and what we both knew about it, but I felt that the energy of the meeting had become more tense.
My question is, was I impolite to say what I said about seeing this new place? I understand that, in this case, my supervisor would be paying for me to go since it's an academic opportunity, and networking and keeping up with current research is the main reason to attend. However, I don't think ignoring the conference as a travel opportunity makes sense either, especially when it's no secret that grad students don't have the time or money to travel for fun very often.
Would you feel offended in my supervisor's case? Is there a need for me to follow up via email about this interaction?