Traveling in grad school
At our January BYO Lunch, we bested a gloomy Monday by talking optimistically about vacations past and future. OCDS members ranging from 2nd-5th year students agreed that justifying personal time, let alone vacations, to your boss, your colleagues, and yourself can be difficult in grad school. Furthermore, our limited finances can present a serious challenge to traveling in grad school, so we discussed places and tips for making our money go the furthest.
The constant pressure to get *more* work done and the often imprecise guidelines around time off can really eek into your thoughts as you try to plan trips. OCDS members shared these concerns as well as the following rationale that members use to remind ourselves that time off is something we each deserve.
Vacations and time off help relax and refresh your brain, so when you get back to work you can be productive. Constant work without breaks may leave you frustrated, resentful, and even depressed about your life and your position in graduate school.
Everyone agreed that their work, boss, and finances would tolerate at least one *long* vacation (7-15 days including weekend days) every year. Some members expressed that they found taking two or more shorter vacations spread out over the year worked better for them, their work, and their boss.
For those working 6 day weeks, it may be possible to work out with your boss, explicitly or otherwise, that you work more hours during the week in exchange for some full weekends off. This could allow you short weekend trips. If your weekly days in are non-negotiable, however, you will just need to focus on the *long* vacations you can take.
Between the seven of us, we have visited or have plans to visit 9 different countries during grad school: France, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Columbia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Thailand. Some of the tips we shared are not secret, but good reminders.
If you’re flexible and especially if you can travel in “off season”, there are last minute deals and companies that will even compile them for you (scottscheapflights was the favorite here). For specific trips, try to book planes in advance (>3 months), but booking too early means that more budget airlines may not have released their flights yet (>6 months). Reach out to others to decide what parts of your trip are worth splurging for, and then book lodgings and local travel around those activities.
Also, don’t scoff at more local trips for short and long vacations. Be that the outdoors, for us at UCLA, we have the whole SoCal coast along with many great national and state parks within driving distance. Camping, either at real sites or on BLM land, can save you a good deal, and buying a national parks pass for the year can beat paying individual NP fees. Aside from gear, hiking and exploring our parks is a fairly low-budget way to vacation. Alternatively, visit nearby havens like San Diego, Temecula, Catalina, Santa Barbara, and OC cities for a less rustic break from grad school.
Whatever you do, take some time to enjoy yourself, your company, the views, and the food before plunging yourself back into the pb&j grind and cranking out your thesis.
Authors are members of OCDS who want to contribute their thoughts on particular subjects which are most important to them. Please feel free to email Marco if you are interested in posting on this blog! The topic and theme of your post is completely up to you and is meant to be written for a general audience.