I will be visiting a university in the US to give an invited talk. The organizer told me that I could choose to arrive a couple of days early, and leave a couple of days late. They will be paying for my hotel reservation and airline ticket.

I love to explore new places, and do not have constraints on my time. Hence, I'd love to to be able to stay a couple of extra days in the city and explore. However, this would mean that the department I will be visiting will have to pay more money to the hotel.

What is the etiquette for negotiating this? Will it not be looked upon disfavorably if I tell them that I wish to stay an extra couple of days? Can I tell them that I'd like to pay for my own hotel reservation for the extra days?

  • 25
    When they told you, you could arrive a couple days early, leave a couple days late, they probably had in mind that you visit their department during that time.
    – TimRias
    Aug 25, 2022 at 19:42
  • 4
    @TimRias- What would visiting the department entail? Note that I am looking for a postdoc, and they're aware of this. Does this mean interacting with the faculty in my field? Aug 25, 2022 at 19:50
  • 1
    Related: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/8364/…
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 25, 2022 at 20:14

3 Answers 3


Matters of etiquette are (i) personal and (ii) cultural, so there is probably no one-size-fits-all answer here. However...

If you are invited to "arrive a couple of days early and/or leave a couple of days late", there is usually an implied "and spend the time meeting people from our institute". Typically you will be given a desk to use, a few meetings will be organised for you, and some students/postdocs may be assigned to take you for lunch. Your formal schedule will probably be quite relaxed, allowing some time for sightseeing and other 'vacation' activities, but you should be prepared to prioritise meetings and other work-related matters.

If you want to combine a visit with anything non-standard, the best thing is to be straightforward and just ask your host: "I'd like to extend my stay for personal reasons/bring my partner/come via Las Vegas/etc. What is the easiest way to arrange this?" Generally you'll get one of three answers:

  1. Don't worry, we'll just pay for it.
  2. OK, we'll pay your travel costs and a hotel for these dates; sort the rest out for yourself.
  3. OK, why don't you make your own arrangements and we'll reimburse you up to $XYZ.
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    Agreed, but I would emphasize "relaxed schedule" quite a bit more. Normally, when I have done such site visits outside of formal interviews, the "daily schedule" often boiled down to one or two meetings and a lunch per day. So there would usually be plenty of time for sightseeing, and hosts tend to be entirely understanding if you tell them "I have my partner in tow, I will leave after lunch to go see the Cathedral of Foobar".
    – xLeitix
    Aug 26, 2022 at 6:40
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    Also, in my experience, not all universities are very good at organizing these visits for you - I have also done visits where the host organized a talk and a lunch, but then left it mostly to me, the visitor, to figure out who else I should talk to and arrange that it happens.
    – xLeitix
    Aug 26, 2022 at 6:41

Most likely they will pay for the days they expect to and you will be responsible for any extra days. This is easy to arrange with any decent hotel. In fact, some of these arrangements are that you put the bill on your own card and get reimbursed later.

You can ask if they'll pay more, of course, and it is not likely to be insulting and they sound flexible. But don't expect that they will pay for too many extra days. You can also decamp and move to a cheaper hotel if you like for the extra days.

Likely the flexibility comes from a grant fund for just such a purpose and it isn't too constrained.


In my experience, if you are exploring several days on your own you need to pay for a portion of the hotel cost.

On the other hand, it is common that the locals will want to show you around, do a hike or visit a museum with you. And drink coffee and later alcohol with you if that is legal and appropriate. If you are doing that, and suggest you want some time on your own to visit some odd-ball attraction, or get some forest bathing done on your own, that is not an issue; you can still expect them to pay for the entire hotel bill.

Generally one needs to hint to your host that you are interested in seeing their glorious city. Talk about what restaurants you want to visit. Most researchers want to have some down time where a great idea might pop up, but the main focus is on the hike or dinner or snake museum. They also like to have a bit of time apart where they can catch up on email and take the kids to the dentist.

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