Is it possible to bring my spouse along for overseas academic conference? (My spouse will not be attending the conference. Airfare and accommodation for my spouse will be paid by us.)

The intention is for my spouse to visit the country and for us to do some sightseeing together during weekends/ off days.

Are there any things to look out for? Has anyone tried this before?

Thanks for any feedback.

  • 36
    I saw it happening many many times without any problem. I do not see why not.
    – PsySp
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 18:00
  • 10
    The answers you're getting about the possibility that the spouse might feel ignored are true. I always found it preferable to have my wife meet me at the tail end of the conference, and then spend a few extra days on our own. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 1:21
  • 5
    It often happens. many conferences even organize program for accompanying family members.
    – Greg
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 5:54
  • Really, why not? What's the problem with you bringing her?
    – einpoklum
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 8:29

3 Answers 3


Yes, it is perfectly normal and accepted, at least in all fields I have heard about. Many conferences also allow one to purchase extra tickets for the social program (conference dinner, excursions) for spouses and accompanying persons.

The only possible source of trouble is how to split the hotel bill, since you will (most likely) be sharing a room. Make sure to inquire in advance with the institution that pays for your trip, or at least ask a colleague what the norm is.

  • 1
    Typical setup, to the best of my knowledge, is that the institution pays for your accommodation, and you pay the difference out of your pocket.
    – svavil
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 18:45
  • 19
    @ASimmons Hotels often charge more for a room if there are going to be two people in it. Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 21:15
  • 5
    @DavidRicherby Only some hotels charge more for a room if the number of occupants changes from one to two. And those who do charge more, charge so nominally in my experience. The only time I have seen a significant difference is when you get a bigger room or stay for the additional days/weekend. It is not at all uncommon to just get the hotel to split the bill and you can pay using two different credit cards or something at checkout. The institution pays/reimburses for one and you pay the difference. Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 21:52
  • 8
    AFAIK, charging more for a room with two occupants is more common in Europe than in the US, so be aware that this may vary depending on location. Also, if S is the price of a single room and D is the price of a double room, it is unclear to me whether the institution should reimburse S or D/2 in this case. There are arguments for both. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 7:39
  • 7
    Charging more for two persons than one is probably common anywhere meals (breakfast or more) are included.
    – skymningen
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 10:30

One thing to note is that unscheduled time during conferences (meal times, evenings, weekends, days off, etc) is commonly used by participants for networking, social events, informal scientific discussions, one-on-one collaboration, and so on. If you are planning to spend this time with your spouse instead, you may miss out on those opportunities.

  • 10
    Right, but I'd put the other way round: tell your spouse that you will not be able to spend much time with her/him because, after all, you're "on duty". Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 20:30
  • 32
    Anecdotal: last time I went to the party, my wife spent more time networking with my colleagues than me.
    – svavil
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 21:42
  • 2
    Good point. I will tell my wife she may have to be on her own on certain days.
    – yoyostein
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 5:12

I have done this both as the researcher with the spouse, and as the spouse. I have never encountered any problem with it, nor has it been particularly rare (one conference I went to, by virtue of being in Disney World, I suspect featured more people with their family than without).

The one caveat is to make sure your spouse is prepared to be somewhat ignored during the days of the actual conference, as in my experience it's a bad idea to let the desire to go on vacation interfere with the actual purpose of the conference. So, for example, they may be on their own for dinner for a night or two.

When I was the spouse, I usually used this to go to museums and the like I knew my partner would be less interested in.

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