I love traveling and going to new places. On the very first day of my PhD I met a guy that was going to be researching whale mating around the world and his PhD involved him traveling to watch them. I am sure he noticed my face turning green, I was so incredibly jealous. Unfortunately, molecular biology/pharmacology can be done wherever there is a lab available. There is no need to visit exotic/glamorous places!
I think there is something to be gained from traveling with your PhD (whether the traveling is down the road to another city, another country or another continent) no matter what your subject choice is. One benefit is that you will probably experience a different perspective from people you meet outside your research group/lab. You may learn a new technique or have the opportunity to pick up some extra information. As I have said before, it is important to know what others in your research area are doing. I do appreciate that not everyone wants to travel and you can get some of these benefits from going to conferences, but what if you do want to spend a longer period of time with another group or doing some field research? How do you go about it?
I am in the middle of setting up a trip across the pond to the USA for a month and this is how I went about it.
- I set the expectation early. From the start of my PhD I stated to my supervisor that I would be interested in spending some time in another lab for a period of time as part of my PhD.
- I spoke to my supervisor about possible ideas of what I could do and gain from being in another lab (I sold the idea)
- I worked hard at my PhD so I knew that I was in a position to take some time out to go to another lab if the opportunity arose
- I continued to remind her about my wish to travel (although not every day)…
Eventually an opportunity emerged (after a couple of dead ends) and this is being planned at the moment. Of course there are some other considerations to take into account when planning a trip – who and how is it going to be funded? Some PhDs are lucky and have a designated pot of money for travel purposes. If, like me, you do not have that there are still ways to fund a trip. Various charities have funding available, universities have money for these kinds of trips. I am in the process of applying for funding at the moment, so I will save my tips and hints for that for another day!