Raise travel funds through volunteering for medical trials

Raise Funds for Travel by Volunteering for Medical Trials

Getting paid for laying around in your dressing gown munching pizza after being pumped full of drugs sounds a little too good to be true but this is what His Dudeness Ralf Kreuze does to finance his travels.

A fan of the champion of the housecoat, Jeff Lebowski, Ralf is a serial drug trial volunteer. Describing himself as a plain old lazy bum he has travelled to Albania, India, Iran, Pakistan, Oman, Azerbaijan and Nepal, among other places, on the money he receives from the inconvenience of being stuck with needles.

Fortunately us travellers are used to needles because they play a big part in the life of a human lab rat. Having them jabbed into veins, either to put drugs in or to take blood out, along with watching DVDs are the major past times in the medical trial world. If you do not like needles, some drugs can be taken orally, inhaled or applied directly to the skin.

Clinical trials are run by or for the big pharmaceutical companies. In the USA alone around $10 billion is invested in up to 80,000 trials each year.

The rewards for participating in a trial can be lucrative. Research organisers pay for your time, travel and discomfort and residential stays are particularly helpful for travellers looking for a free bed. Example remunerations include £3000 for a 28 day residential study of a new drug being developed for the treatment of chronic pain.

Men are more in demand for drug trials. For safety reasons many clinical trials of drugs are designed to exclude women of childbearing age. Race, age, weight, medical history, alcohol consumption and current or past use of drugs or cigarettes are other factors that can determine the eligibility of a volunteer.

Healthy volunteers are mostly needed for Phase II trails. Phase I involves testing a small group of people for the first time to evaluate the safety of a new drug, determine a safe dosage range and identify side effects.

Phase II trials involve a larger group of volunteers to confirm a drugs effectiveness and further evaluate its safety. Nursing staff will monitor your progress and trials are approved by independent ethics committees.


  • Weigh up the inconvenience and discomfort against the cash.
  • If you don’t like the idea of testing a new drug look for trails of foreign drugs that have been tested overseas but need testing again to gain a UK license.
  • Quit smoking to increase your chances of being accepted onto a trial.
  • If you are uncomfortable subjecting your body to experimentation consider volunteering for sleep disorder or psychological research.
  • Though the risks are small, they are still present. Reduce the risk by signing up for phase II trials as data has already been gathered from phase I volunteers.

Can It Go Wrong

It’s rare (rare enough that it makes the newspapers) but it can happen. In March 2006, the drug TGN1412 caused catastrophic organ failure to those participating in phase I trials.

Finding Drug Trials

BioTrax International
Lists places where drug trials are conducted around the UK and the world.

Search this registry of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the United States and around the world.

Clinical Trials Portal
For anyone involved in clinical trials from the researcher to the volunteer.

Current Controlled Trials
Though aimed at researchers, this list of around 15,000 trials taking place across the world can be accessed by anyone.

A portal for clinical trials around the UK. They also have sites for the USA and Australia.

Short for Guinea Pigs Get Paid, GPGP is a directory listing clinical studies units in the USA and around the world.

GSK UK Clinical Trials
GlaxoSmithKline hold trials in London and Cambridge.

ICON Development Solutions
Volunteers can register to join trials in Manchester, UK or Omaha and San Antonio, USA.

Imperial College London
Current studies are listed with an email address to get in touch.

Just Another Lab Rat
Written by a guy who has taken part in 35 studies. Lists trials in the USA and provides plenty of useful tips.

LCD Bioscience
Looks for healthy volunteers to take part in clinical trials at a research unit set in 22 acres of parkland near Cambridge, UK.

Register and they will send your details directly to companies who are looking for volunteers to take part in their medical research studies.

Paid Clinical Trails
A worldwide clinical trials database.

Trials are held in the UK in Harrow, and in California, Baltimore, Germany and South Africa.

Quintiles (UK)
The drug research unit at Guy’s Hospital in London primarily conducts Phase
I trials on healthy volunteers.

Quintiles (USA)
Drug trials in Kansas.

Quotient Clinical
Volunteer for trials in Nottingham or Edinburgh.

A US service that registers volunteers for free. Researchers get in touch if they think you are a suitable match for their trials.

Richmond Pharmacology
Medical research studies are held in two research units in south London.

Volunteers wanted to participate in their clinics in Texas and Utah.

Shandon Clinic Group
Perform between 20 and 30 clinical studies each year in Cork, Ireland.

Surrey Clinical Research Centre
Based at the University of Surrey in Guildford. Register online to become a volunteer.

Veeda Clinical Research
A phase I clinical trials unit based in Plymouth, UK.

Photo courtesy of nathanf

Would you subject your body to medical experiments so you can afford to go travelling? Let us know below:

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10 comments to Raise Funds for Travel by Volunteering for Medical Trials

  • Suzy  says:

    Interesting way to finance travel. I couldn’t get past the needles and veins. I can’t even look at my own without feeling like I will pass out.

    • The Working Traveller  says:

      I sympathize. For sure it’s not for everyone. I had to have a lumber punch (fluid drawn from the spine) when I was 16. As long as I don’t look ordinary injections are easier to endure since that horror.

  • […] Raise Funds for Travel by Volunteering for Medical Trials | The Working Traveller […]

  • claire  says:

    I think the issue is not whether or not you can stick needles as they , in general, only have to insert 1 cannula from which they can inject into and take blood from. The bigger issue is the unknown damage it can do. Those drugs may exacerbate a previously unknown underlying disease. Indeed those holiday trips could end up being very costly.

  • M.A.waheed  says:

    I want to parcipate in labs allover the world,iam very poor it makes the money4 me and its like a social service,PLZ if any body having the infrmatn of trails cont me on 08801528228

  • joshua  says:

    i want to get paid

  • Jim  says:

    Good list of trials. Has anyone tried any of these? Are they safe? I am interested in raising some extra money.

    • The Working Traveller  says:

      Hi Jim,

      JM Cressman, a past interviewee for our Why I Live in… series (http://www.the-working-traveller.com/why-i-live-in%E2%80%A6-the-sunshine-coast/), did several med trials in Australia and reported his experiences on his blog. Unfortunately his site and twitter account are no longer active but from what I read he seemed to have had good experiences.

  • Kim Hutchinson  says:

    I would like to take part in your paid Medical Trials. My address is, [removed by editor]

    • Shane  says:

      Hi Kim, this is a how to article. We are not hiring ourselves and I doubt anyone involved in hiring volunteers will be passing by looking to recruit here. Try the links above to find active medical trials (though this article is nearly 5 years old so I’m sure some will be duds by now). I have also removed your address as I’m not sure how good an idea it is to put it where anyone can see it.

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