Written by Whitney Eakin, PT, DPT, ATC
The world of travel therapy is an exciting one. There are so many options and possibilities as a travel therapist. We as U.S. healthcare professionals are fortunate to have this as an avenue to travel down, so to speak, not only professionally but personally.
There are so many different types of travelers out there, from new grads, to those with a few years experience, those in the middle of their careers, or those close to retirement.
There are “career” travelers who do it forever and ever, amen, and never plan on settling down. There are “just testing it out” travelers who take a contract or two. There are ones who take travel contracts part of the year and work at home part of the year. There are “I just want to travel to places where my kids and grandkids live and make a little money along the way” travelers. And everywhere in between.
What kind of travel therapist will you be?
Let’s talk about some of the key reasons that many therapists choose to travel, what motivates and drives them… (but, of course, most of us are driven by a combination of all these factors!) …and see where you can relate!
In it for the Money
Yes, yes, this is often the big one. Income. Paychecks. Most therapists hear that travel therapy can afford them higher income than a permanent position, and for many different circumstances this is enticing.
For those who need to pay down a high amount of student debt, more money can be the key to becoming debt free. For those with families, more money can mean a better lifestyle, or less time spent working and more time spent with family, or that one spouse may not have to work at all. And for just about anyone, more money means more options.
Lots of therapists travel solely for the purpose of making more money, and they will chase the highest paying contracts no matter what. For most, it’s some combination of money and other factors that drives them to choose travel therapy.
You can check out this article to better understand how travel therapy pay works and how you can earn more money as a travel therapist.
Are you planning to travel just for higher pay?
All about Schedule Flexibility
When you work as a travel therapist, you are a “contract” worker, and therefore you are only employed while on contract. This means you can be in control of when you work and when you take time off. Gone are the days of only having two weeks of vacation time or PTO!
For many, this allows a lot of flexibility to be able to spend more time with family for special events and holidays, or to take time off to travel for leisure. In addition, since most travelers make more money than they would at a traditional position, they can in most cases afford to take additional time off, while still making enough money to support their lifestyles.
For some, such as me and my boyfriend Jared, this could mean working part of the year and traveling internationally the other part of the year. We just finished a 5 month trip around the world, are taking additional time off for the holidays with family, and plan to take a new travel PT contract next month.
The possibilities for how you want your schedule and your life to look are endless as a travel therapist.
Do you plan to use travel therapy to take extended periods of time off?
For many, the excitement of traveling around the country and having adventures in new places is what draws them to travel therapy.
Who else gets to go live in a new city, state, region for +/- 3 months, instead of just visiting for a few days or a week?
It’s amazing the experiences you can have when you’re living in a new area. Even the normal, mundane, day to day activities are exciting. New grocery store, new weekend farmer’s market, new gym, new local coffee shop, new dog park.
Not to mention hiking all the trails, exploring all the beaches, skiing all the slopes, hitting up the local events, trying out new breweries and wineries, and catching local bands. Plus so, so much more!
Adventure is just around the corner for travel therapists, and more therapists are discovering it all the time.
Are you dreaming of the adventures you can have as a travel therapist?
The Social Butterfly
Want to meet new people? Looking for friendships across the states? Looking to find love? Why not travel for work and open up your circle!
Becoming a travel therapist can give you lots of opportunities to meet new people. Whether it’s co-workers, new friends at the gym, a new church community, a volunteer group, or local “meet-ups” — the possibilities are endless if you’re willing to put yourself out there!
Of course, I’d be remiss to say that traveling always helps you make new friends. Some travelers can feel quite lonely in a new place. Sometimes building strong friendships in such a short time can be challenging, and sometimes locals are not willing to open their circle to a newcomer, especially someone so transient.
But, that’s not always the case, and quite often travel therapists can make amazing connections in each place they go! This can mean having a whole new “family” across the country, or even finding a group of people you love so much, you want to stay!
Are you searching for new connections?
The New Setting Hopper
Some therapists choose to use travel therapy to broaden their skill sets. As a traveler, you have the opportunity to hop from one setting to another and gain a wealth of experience.
Many therapists will choose to stick with one or a couple of their favorite settings, but many want to expand their resume and skill set. Travel therapy is the perfect opportunity for this. As long as the facility understands you may need some additional training if you do not have a lot of experience in that setting, and you feel confident and competent enough to work there, you can dip your foot into new settings to see what you think!
Travel therapy affords a rare opportunity to hop from one setting to another, an opportunity that most therapists would never get.
Do you want to try out new settings, without the commitment of a permanent position?
What Kind of Travel Therapist Will You Be?
Do any of the above reasons resonate with you? What do you see your travel life looking like? There are so many possibilities, and no two travel therapists are alike.
If you’re ready to get started in your travel therapy career and would like guidance and recommendations, please reach out to us! We would be happy to help mentor you on your travel journey!