Fieldtrips are expensive and so often we try to cram as much in to make maximum use of the time together.
However, we are generally moving towards making our trips less intense. For example, factoring in more times for breaks and giving students a chance to have their own space as being around different people for 10 hours+ can be quite difficult for some students. We also try to say things like “there will be hot chocolate at the end of this 2 hours of being in the freezing cold” to highlight the better points of fieldwork. We ensure we communicate things like scheduled toilet stops, and café breaks so that students know that these have been factored in. When I was an undergraduate, I would be working until 10/11pm at night and then up again at 7am for a full day of fieldwork the next day. This is no longer inclusive and now we have changed assessments/work design to ensure students can finish at a reasonable time in the evening and have a proper break. If we have week-long fieldtrips, we ensure we have a day where students can enjoy some ‘down time’, they need to have a break as well. Although we are making the trips less intense, we are not compromising meeting the requirements of the trip.
Have we lost something by reducing the intensity of fieldtrips? It all comes back to the learning outcomes. What are we expecting the students to achieve by traipsing around the countryside for hours on end? Can we achieve that without putting them under additional stress? In the past, I knew of institutions who would have a day where all Geography students were made to climb a mountain (regardless of the weather and only about 10% of the students actually made it to the top) the rest went down at various points. There is no real reasons for the students to have to climb the mountain. It didn’t add to the field trip. These types of activities should be optional where you might have half a day where students who want to climb the mountain can and those who want to go shopping can.