Illustrate of students sitting on an aeroplane, with a thought bubble showing the Eiffel Tower and other cultural landmarks

How to embrace travel opportunities as a HDR student

Did you know that MPhil and PhD students are often encouraged to undertake domestic and international travel for their research? As a PhD student nearing the end of my studies, my biggest advice for new and continuing HDR students is to embrace opportunities for travel so that you can enhance your research profile while making memories for a lifetime – a real win-win! It’s worth looking into your options sooner rather than later so that you have the best chance possible to integrate travel into your studies. Consider this your beginner’s guide for all things HDR travel. 

Did you know that all HDR students have access to funding via the Research Training Program? As a student in the School of Humanities, Creative Industries and Social Sciences, I was able to access $6000 towards research costs, so it’s definitely worth asking your supervisor what your RTP amount is and how they recommend you spend it. This funding can go towards all kinds of things like resources and proofreading, but I personally opted to spend the majority of mine on interstate and international travel. It’s a bit of a long process to get travel approved and booked through the uni so you’ll want to start thinking about it early but trust me it’s worth all the paperwork! If you’re interested in travelling for research purposes, here are some options you may want to consider (in conjunction with your supervisory team, of course) …  

Academic conferences

Conferences are a great way for HDR students to share their research and get feedback from others in the field. While some conferences offer hybrid or virtual attendance modes, there are definite perks to attending in-person if you’re able to. Being able to deliver a paper in a room full of people really enhances your presentation skills and can be a huge confidence booster, and it’s much easier to network and socialise with people if you’re there in-person. For me, the ability to meet like-minded people is the biggest perk of travelling for conferences. I’ve made some really great friends this way and it’s nice to know that when I travel in the future, I can catch up with people I know in different cities and countries. The goal that I set with my supervisors was to physically attend one international and one interstate conference during my candidature and I’m really close to achieving it: last year I attended a conference in New Zealand and in September I’ll be travelling to Melbourne for one. Conferences are great to attend at any stage of your candidature, so I highly recommend speaking with your supervisors to see if you have the budget to fund at least one conference during your studies. 

Me giving a presentation at a conference


Depending on your research topic, fieldwork may be useful to consider or even necessary. Fieldwork can take many different forms like visiting sites, accessing archives and rare materials, interviewing people and much more. Because of how strongly your findings can shape the direction of your entire project, fieldwork is usually planned at the beginning of your candidature, especially if it’s central to your thesis. This way your supervisors can help you plan an exact budget and duration for your trip and you can put all the relevant details in your confirmation document. Then as soon as your confirmation is approved you’ll have a budget set aside and a plan in place to support your travel.  


Another option that’s worth exploring is travel scholarships. While there’s never a guarantee that there will be a travel scholarship that suits your circumstances, there’s no harm in looking. I was fortunate to be the recipient of the 2023 Odyssey Travel scholarship, which provides $5000 for an ancient history HDR student to travel to Greece for research. I used it to visit archaeological sites and museums in Athens and Delphi, it really enhanced my understanding of my PhD topic and I had the time of my life travelling and exploring! Keep your eyes on the HDR scholarship and opportunities page to see if any open up that you’re eligible for but don’t stress because there’s still always the opportunity to access your RTP for travel. 

Visiting the Athenian acropolis as part of my research trip in Greece

If you like the sound of travelling during your HDR studies, reach out to your supervisory team to see what they recommend for you. You have nothing to lose in asking and if they think that research trips are a good option to pursue, it could lead to some fantastic opportunities for personal and professional growth. Bon voyage! 

Feature Image: Dan Gennari, Visual Communication student

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