A Travel Money Side Hustle
It’s always the same question.
We all ask it of our friends who travel more than we do. The one that comes second only after the courtesy inquiry of, “How was your trip?”
“How do you pay for that?”
Well here is one of my solutions for you.
This month, December 2018, I celebrate (well acknowledge is a better word) that I have officially been out of college for a full decade. In that time, I would say that I have not had a single ‘real’ job. I consider ‘real’ jobs the kind where you have consistent incomes, work year round, have days that you get paid for even when you don’t go, that kind of stuff. Instead, I have always pieced together a little bit of this, and little bit of that. Some jobs over the last ten years have been more unique than others, but all have contributed to the travel fund.
So what is this mysterious, two-week gig that can net you just under $3k? The scary answer? Renting your body to science. The nice answer? Assisting the medical community with research that helps develop both new and old drugs to better treat patients. By using your body. Just your standard, Clinical Research.
Living in Minneapolis, there is a great option to find research studies to be a part of. At Prism Clinical Research, their mission as published on their website states that they, “…provides, FDA approved, investigational pharmaceutical and medical device testing services on behalf of drug and device manufacturers, academic and private physicians as well as other researchers…”.
While I wouldn’t call myself a pro, I have been through this process a few times and can give you the general rundown on what it’s like to go through these things. There are different kinds and mostly I’m referring to studies that involve clinical overnight stays. That’s where the money is.
The first step is to figure out if you would even be interested in such a thing. I had never thought about it and don’t recall where I learned about them, but the first time I saw the compensation possibilities, my curiosity was piqued.
Next you need to visit the ‘Studies’ page to see what you might qualify for. There are often a variety of studies going on, from ones that require healthy people to others looking for very specific diseases or symptoms. If you decide to go further, there is a screening process that requires a phone call and then a visit to the study center. They will ask a lot of questions, go through a lot of paperwork, and make sure that you understand what the study is and all inherent risks.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been worried. The first time I came in I was afraid of the drug. What would it do to me? Would there be any long term side effects? Is it worth it? I immediately felt better when a year later seeing that first drug advertised on TV. They consoled me before the study also by letting me know it had been tested in multiple cohorts before and they were only experimenting with a slightly different formulation. You do have to measure the risks with the rewards, and I like to think I haven’t taken any great chances thus far in my experiments.
What can you expect to happen to you in a study? So many things. If you’re squeamish skip this paragraph. I’ve had CT scans, x-rays, had my eyes dilated, and stared into lights. They always need a baseline so you get the basic tests such as an ECG, blood pressure, urine sample, breathalyzer, and some blood tests. Then there is dosing of the meds. I’ve taken pills, and once a subcutaneous injection into the fat in my tummy. Other things I’ve heard of but haven’t had to do are semen samples, stool samples, or drugs by IV. I will say this, if you are extremely averse to needles, your ability to participate will be limited.
Then over the course of your time in the study, those processes are repeated. My longest was twelve days, which I am currently in as I write this story. I have heard of people staying for thirty. Yes, you actually have to stay at the facility the entire time. Guests are allowed, they feed you, and you have a shared room to hang out in as you pass the days away watching more TV and movies than you ever thought possible.
I don’t recall anymore how I first heard about this. The regular channels for others have been through things like Craigslist, City Pages (Minneapolis weekly newspaper), and referrals. Shameless plug, if you’d like to try Prism Research I’d be happy to refer you! (Full disclosure, there is a $100 referral bonus) I have a feeling a friend told me and based on that decided it was worth investigating.
So how much money can a person make doing this? I have made anywhere from $20 for a blood sample to the $2,850 for the one I’m doing now. The longer the study, the more invasive, and the more investigational the drugs the more you can make. Overall, in the last four years I have probably made about $10,000 from this little side hustle. One of the greatest things about it is, for the longer term studies you can often do other work while you’re participating. It’s a great way to work remotely and double down on earning travel cash.
Let’s assume now you’re at least curious enough to see what’s out there. If you’re a Minnesota native (you don’t have to live close by, just willing to travel) just check out Prism Clinical Research’s ‘Studies’ page. I once went on a Tinder date with a nurse and she hooked me up with some of the studies at her hospital. Try to find information on studies they may have, and I’ve also had some luck with university research programs. Those I’ve found through ResearchMatch.org, though it’s been slow there as of late.
In another post I think I’ll give you a rundown on more of the exciting things that actually happen while in a study. In a way, it’s like travel and adventure. You never know who you’re going to meet and there is a story everywhere. So until you’re back on the road, start making your body work for you. Be safe, understand the risks, and hopefully you’ll find your travel chest a little more full so you can take on more adventure!
*The pictures all look the same because, due to privacy restrictions, upon entering the clinic all of your device’s cameras are taped over with paper. Use your imaginations!