How to Travel as a Ph.D. Student

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Traveling during your doctoral degree can be quite a challenge. You are likely extremely busy, emotionally overwhelmed, and financially drained. However, travel can be inspiring and give you a new way to look at your research- or it can just be a much needed break from your day to day stress. If you have enough drive, you CAN make it happen. Here are some tips on how to travel while you’re a Ph.D. student:

  1. Tie it to a conference

I know, I know, conferences can be stressful and are certainly not vacation. But why not present your paper or research and get some networking in for a couple days, and then travel the rest of your trip? If you’re flying to go to a conference to present your research, you can get funding from your University’s Graduate Studies office, your doctoral program, and sometimes the conference (apply for travel scholarships). If you’re in a new city anyways, may as well stretch out your trip to get some leisure in! Most conferences are in fun places and often some of your colleagues are there. It is absolutely possible (and a good idea) to turn your conference travel into a fun trip!

ASPA Conference in Seattle
  1. Take a “study abroad” class as an elective

Many doctoral programs have a study abroad course you can take, or you can take a study abroad course from another program at your University that you can petition to count as an elective course. Speak with your advisor, program director, and the faculty instructor to see if you can work something out. You may be required to write or publish a paper geared to your research or program of study that fits in with the competencies of the study abroad course. A study abroad course can provide an excellent opportunity to get some travel in, and you will certainly find leisure time during your trip.

  1. Visit a leading scholar or research group

Taking a professional development trip or off-campus research trip is another way that you can travel while you’re a doc student. Many Universities offer professional development grants that can be used for travel. Do some research and see what you can come up with to make work at your University. If there is nothing in place, maybe it’s time you go to the graduate studies and see what you can make happen.

  1. Apply for a major grant

Although most are highly competitive, there are grants for doctoral students, post-docs, and young professionals that you can apply for to study internationally. Some of these include: Marshall Scholarship, Rhodes Scholarship, Fulbright, and Watson Fellowship. There are other program-based fellowships too, as well as sorority/fraternity travel fellowships for graduate students. If you’re in science and engineering, consider NSF’s Developing Global Scientists and Engineers grant. Just do your research and see what kind of grant you can find to fund your research agenda.

  1. Leisure travel between semesters, or after you meet a big dissertation milestone.

Finding time to travel as a doctoral student can be quite a challenge. Schedule your trip well in advance and set goals to reach before you leave. I absolutely recommend traveling where you will not miss any classes and after the semester is over. If this can’t be done, speak with your faculty mentor and supervisors about how you can make your travel work well in advance.


6. Ask your family for their Sky Miles and Reward Points

You can absolutely ask your family and friends to help out if they have any frequent flyer miles, hotel reward points, or travel points up for grabs. Know any cousins that have a time share? You can also ask for Birthday or Holiday gifts to be in the form of leisure and travel for emotional breaks. If they can support you in any way, I think they will. After all, being a Doc student is pretty amazing. 👏🏻

You may have to make a few sacrifices to travel while you’re pursuing your degree. You may possibly have to work extra hours to take time off, push a course back, or split time where you don’t necessarily want to. But you CAN make it work and you absolutely should!


1 comments on “How to Travel as a Ph.D. Student”

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