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Question for those who like to travel


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I will be starting my PhD program in the fall. I just returned from a three week backpacking trip to Europe and it was so great. (I met a ton of other young travelers and my trip was the shortest of them all, go figure.) My list of places to visit has only grown. Since I won't have a crazy amount of time off like I did in undergrad, I'm wondering if other 2-3 week trips will ever be possible during future summers. I know every program is different, but can anyone tell me what the typical case may be?

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I had to do fieldwork during the summers, so that's where much of my traveling time went. That said, I probably could've taken 2-3 week trips to cool places if I'd had the money and not had the desire to spend time with friends and family. I didn't work in a lab or have any RA duties over the summer, so that should be taken into consideration too.

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I'm not teaching in the Fall so I am combining two conferences in mid-September and mid-October into a month-long trip to Europe where I'll visit two or three different universities to give talks and work on collaborations with colleagues who I usually only talk to on Skype and in between do some sight-seeing in those cities, meet up with friends, and spend a bit of time visiting my parents. I often try to combine conference travel with sightseeing, for practical reasons, which may not always be 2-3 weeks but you can easily add 2-3 more days of personal time in the city where the conference is taking place for basically the same airfare as you would pay anyway, and if you have the funding you'd get it reimbursed. When I was in grad school, at least in the early years, it would have been easy to spend 2-3 weeks or probably even longer traveling in the summer. I would usually spend about that long visiting my family, and I didn't have any RA/TA obligations. One year I spent some time hiking the West Highland Way and then at the Fringe in Scotland; in another I went to the Far East for a collaboration and tacked on about 10 days of travel. In recent years this combination work/travel arrangement seems to work best for me, both as a way of staying on top of work and as a way of covering the costs. it's not quite the same as a long backpacking trip, but it's not too bad either.

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There is no typical - every situation is different. Not even just at the program level, but at the lab level, too.


Social psychology is one of my fields, and in my case I could've easily taken a 2-3 week trip in the summers. My research work is mostly community-based, not requiring experiments in the lab, and I can do most of it from anywhere as long as I have a computer with statistical software and a word processor. My PI was also very flexible and amenable to time off and trips taken, so getting 2-3 weeks to go do whatever would've been very easy.


Different PIs are different though; some might balk at you being gone for 2-3 weeks straight; some might have summer tasks in the lab for you to do. (If you're using the subject pool, experiments are unlikely because the undergrads are gone).


However, I think that most grad students would have no problem getting at least 2 weeks off during the summer to go traveling, and most of my friends did something like this pretty often as long as you have the money. It's one of the perks of academia.

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Thank you everyone for the great advice on here for ways to travel!

Like you VulpesZerda, I'm also just starting but have already met with my advisor and will officially start next week! I'm in Developmental Psychology so my schedule depends a lot on local school schedules and parent schedules (meaning that I work in my lab like a 9-5 and data collection slows down during parts of the year).

Even though I have guaranteed twelve month funding, my advisor actually already told me the ideal time to take vacations and that they travel for two weeks during that same time every year!

I'm glad I didn't have to ask as was tentatively planning a two week trip abroad next summer to visit a friend as well as sightsee and now just plan to do so during that ideal time to take a vacation!

I'd just say to ask your advisor or senior grad students to see what they do.

Edited by FantasticalDevPsych
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