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I'm starting my Masters program this September with a 4 month research stint in New Zealand. I am currently discussing flight plans with my supervisor and was wondering if it would be ok to ask to delay my flights for a week at the end of my trip so I could do a bit of sightseeing (I'm a huge hobbit fan) and networking (I have some connections with the zoo in Auckland as well as some of the national parks). This end vacation would be completely on my own dime.

Am I out of line? Has anyone else on here done the same?

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This is totally fine. Every single grad student I have met who went on an overseas trip will spend at least 3 days to 1 week after the work portion is over to be a tourist (on their own dime of course)! The only constraint is if you have to be back to TA a course or if you have another conference right after! 


Adding on one extra week to 4 months of work should be nothing. It's professional courtesy to check but honestly, most grad schools grant their students vacation time so I'd argue you are really just letting them know, not really getting approval/permission (but it's generally helpful to phrase it as the latter). Note: You should definitely check with the people who will eventually file your expense reports. Sometimes, you have to prove that your delayed flight home won't cost more than the original flight plan (or they will only reimburse the original cost). In addition, if you want to fly to more than one location on the way home, this is usually allowed too, except you generally need to print out or otherwise record the original roundtrip cost and that will be your maximum reimbursement for airfare. Rules vary between schools, so check with the admin staff!


Most of my work travel is only 1 week long (for a conference) and I usually spend between 1 and 7 days after the fact to sightsee. For short trips (within North America), I probably only stay an extra day or two (i.e. the weekend following the conference). In 2011, I went to France for a conference and my (new) spouse flew out to Paris afterwards and we spent a week there and made it our honeymoon. Next month, I'm going to be in England for a conference and my spouse will meet me in London after the conference is over and we're spending 6 days there on vacation.


All of the supervisors I've ever had have been very supportive of this and in fact, they all consider it a perk of being in academia. Personally, the ability to travel to interesting places for work is one of the big reasons I want to be in academia / grad school. My supervisors have always encouraged it and given us restaurant/travel/tourist recommendations etc. as well. 

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