We all know that starting a new job is one of the more stressful events in life. In fact, starting a new travel therapy job or switching from permanent job to a travel position can be scary. Fortunately, most of us have built in stress relievers – friends and pets! Study after study demonstrates that a strong social support network, including family and friends (and pets), make us more resilient in the face of stress, change, and fear. Travel Therapists often mitigate their stress by finding a traveling partner – maybe a fellow travel therapist who will find a placement in the same town, or a friend or significant other who comes along for the ride. Another option is traveling with a pet who can keep you company and give you a sense of “home away from home.”
Taking a pet on your travel therapy assignment
As a therapist who may be moving frequently owning a dog or cat may be just the stress relief you need when you get home every day. Pets make great partners on travel assignments because you can always take them on your adventures. Going out for a hike? Take your dog. You might not believe this, but I have a friend who takes her cat paddle boarding. So, I guess there are things for your cat to do outside too, if you and your cat are into that sort of thing. More commonly, if you want a little lap buddy when you are watching a movie, a cat works well.
The first obstacle that traveling therapists with a pet run into is finding an apartment that will allow pets. Luckily for pet lovers, more and more apartment buildings are allowing dogs and cats (for a slightly high fee of course). The next problem people traveling with a pet run into is finding a good park or open space to let their animals run around and well, be animals. Lucky for today’s travelers, an increasing number of cities are expanding dog parks and off leash areas. I know Alameda, CA, just outside of San Francisco has a wonderful dog park. Want to travel to Michigan for the summer? They also have a plethora of outdoor areas where little Fido and big Max can run free. For even more tips on traveling with your pet and some pet friendly hotels sites while you are on the road, check out this article on PT Solutions’ Blog. Pets are pretty content to be at home while you are at work, but what about traveling with a significant other?
Working as a travel therapist with a friend or significant other
I once worked with a travel Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) who was traveling with her husband. Her husband, who had just graduated from graduate school, was expecting to find employment where ever they stayed. Unfortunately, he was unable to find a job. This mid-twenties man had trouble finding temporary work because he was highly educated, only going to be around for 3 months, and was looking for a large pay package. In other words, if you take a friend or spouse along, be sure that they have realistic expectations. There are jobs that will hire for only 3 months but you might end up doing seasonal or menial tasks.
This acquaintance became somewhat frustrated with not working, and decided to invest his time in volunteer and recreational activities to make his days more enjoyable. Although he didn’t earn any money, taking online classes, volunteering, and taking some hikes was a great way to pass the time. In addition, a traveling therapist’s companion often ends up managing the logistical details of setting up shop in a new town, so that a traveling therapist is free to focus on acclimating to their work setting.
Occasionally, two therapists, or a travel therapist and a travel nurse, are able to find travel assignments together and travel around the country working together. Although they may have to be more flexible with the jobs that they accept, because it’s more difficult to find two jobs in the same location, I’ve actually met a multiple couples like this. They make great money, get to see a new part of the country and spend quality time with each other every night. Not bad.
So we have covered pets, significant others… what am I leaving out? Kids!
I will be honest with this one. I have never met someone traveling across the country with their kids. But, I’ve occasionally heard about families who choose this life style. They have to be extremely flexible and pick up and move whenever a job is done, as well as have some kind of plan for childcare. Constantly moving around obviously works better with small children who aren’t in school yet. Travel therapists more commonly take their family along on a summer assignment in some tourist location. However, once again, this only works well if someone comes along to entertain the kids.
Working closer to home as a local contract therapist
If you like the benefits that come with working as a travel therapist, but also have children, your best option maybe working as a contract therapist. As long as your work is over 50 miles from your home, you can still be paid with a travel stipend. This option involves a long commute (up to two hours a day in the car), but enables your family to stay in one place while you work as a traveler. Since the ins and outs of this option may sound a little complicated, as I mention in all my articles, make sure you have a trusted recruiter to walk you to the process. If you want to talk to two successful “local travelers,” Devin and John, owners of PT Solutions are working out in the field, running a business, and both have kids. What an exciting opportunity, living at home and taking local travel gigs!
So we have covered pets, significant others, and contracting locally due to kids. I hope these stories have been helpful. Please feel free to share your experiences and suggestions for traveling with pets and friends in the comments section below. Thanks!
Justin Johnson is currently living and working in Bellingham, WA. Justin graduated from Central Michigan University with his DPT in 2008 and earned his GCS designation in 2011. Justin has worked for large trauma 1 and teaching hospitals along with diverse settings as a travel PT for many years. During the winters Justin can be found sliding up and down mountains on his skis or at Mt. Baker where he is a volunteer ski patroller. During the months where there is no snow he can be found on two wheels. You can reach him at JMJohnsonDPT@gmail.com.