Travel Therapy Housing 101

travel therapy housing 101

If you’re considering getting into travel therapy (Travel PT, Travel OT, Travel SLP), one of the first questions you might have is, how does the housing work when you’re away on assignment?

Does the travel therapy company set up housing for you, or do you find housing yourself?

There are lots of options to find short term housing for travelers, so let’s go over them all.

Company Provided Housing

If you’d like for them to, then the travel therapy company can set up housing for you. However, when they do this, you don’t receive a housing stipend, which is often what makes travel therapy pay so lucrative.

So you have a choice, either the company can take care of the housing for you, and you get paid less, or you can take the housing stipend, find your own housing, and if you can find housing for cheap, you get to keep the rest of the money.

There are some benefits to having the company set up housing for you. It takes away a lot of the hassle of finding it yourself and arranging a lease. Also, if your contract gets cut short, you’re not responsible for being stuck in a lease, the company takes care of that for you.

Of course, there are some negatives too. One is that you lose the housing stipend/leftover money. You also don’t have control over where they pick for housing.

Typically if the travel therapy company arranges the housing, they will have an established relationship/contract with an extended stay hotel system or some type of corporate/furnished apartments.

Occasionally, the facility where you’re going might be able to provide housing that they’ve used for staff in the past. For example, in some remote locations, like Alaska, Hawaii, or Cape Cod, they could have an arrangement with local apartments or cottages that they use for travelers quite often. Some hospital systems could have dorms or apartments they use for travelers, students, MD residents, etc.

Making Your Own Housing Arrangements

Most often, travel therapists will choose to accept the housing stipend and make their own housing arrangements. As mentioned, if you’re able to find housing for less than the amount they give you for the stipend, you can keep the rest of the stipend and consider it extra pay, which is a huge perk. In our experience, we’ve always been able to arrange housing for much cheaper than the housing allowance.

There are lots of options that travelers use to arrange housing, including:

  • Traveling to locations where they can rent from family or friends
  • Crowd-sourcing their friends/acquaintances to see if anyone has a place to rent where they’ll be traveling
  • Searching for short term housing options on websites including:
  • Searching for apartment complexes that provide furnished/short term leases
  • Contacting local realtors to ask about short term leases
  • Searching for extended stay motels/corporate housing
  • Checking with local colleges for housing pages/subleases from students
  • Asking the facility/HR department if they have contacts for short term housing that other travelers have used in the past
  • Calling RV parks/campgrounds to see if they have Cottages/Park Model RVs available for monthly rentals
  • Traveling by RV/camper, van, or tiny home and staying at campgrounds/RV parks, or searching for locations/private property that have RV site hook-ups

Considerations For Arranging Your Own Housing

Setting up short term housing can definitely be tricky as a travel therapist. There are some things you’ll need to consider to make sure you have the best experience.

  1. Watch out for scams!
    • Most of the time, you’ll be arranging housing over the phone/internet, sight unseen. This has always worked out fine for us, but you do need to be aware of scams. Go with your gut if something seems sketchy! Make sure to talk to someone on the phone before agreeing to housing and sending any deposit, and ask for references if necessary. Most of the time if you’re going through a legitimate business (apartment complex, campground, etc) it’s going to be fine. It’s the individuals on Craigslist/Facebook etc you have to be most concerned with. Usually if you go through a website like Airbnb or Furnished Finder, the business itself will have your back if there’s a scam, but make sure to do your due diligence and don’t get taken advantage of.
    • Some therapists will choose to move to a location and stay at a hotel for a few days before their contract starts, then use those few days to go look at places in person to avoid getting scammed!
  2. Try to get a month to month arrangement
    • Sometimes travel contracts get cancelled early, so if you commit to a 3-month or 6-month lease, you can get stuck in that lease and not be able to get out without hefty penalties and fees, or having to pay the full lease term! Ideally, try to set up a contract/lease that allows month to month rentals, or has an appropriate cancellation clause. Usually individual landlords will be okay with this if you explain your situation. It can be more difficult with apartment complexes/businesses.
  3. Shop around to get the lowest rent and try to negotiate!
    • Ideally as a traveler, you want to find the cheapest housing possible that still suits your needs. You’re going to save the most money to be able to put aside for paying off debts, investing in your retirement funds, or taking additional time off if you can keep your expenses low! For some travelers, they’re okay with renting a room in someone’s house to save a lot! For some, they really want their own space or need their own space due to traveling with a partner, family, or pet. That’s okay too, but still try to shop around and get the lowest rent possible. Often, if you explain your situation as a traveling healthcare worker, they might be willing to negotiate a lower rate than the posted monthly rate.
  4. Take pictures before/after
    • If you have any concerns about the location where you’re renting and want to be sure you won’t be held liable for anything, take photos when you move in and move out to make sure you won’t be charged any unnecessary fees for damages or things in disrepair.
  5. Carry renter’s insurance
    • This is good practice whenever you’re going to be renting somewhere, in case of unforeseen issues like theft, fire, water damage, natural disasters, roommate problems, etc.
  6. Try to find furnished places with utilities included
    • Everyone has their own methods for finding short term housing, and sometimes you’re going to find better deals than others. But in our experience finding short term housing, we’ve always tried to find a place that is already furnished and has utilities included. This makes life so much easier when you’re moving to a new location and will only be there a short time.
    • If you’re not able to find furnished or utilities included, try to go pretty basic for the few months you’ll be there. Some travelers bring their own furnishings, rent them, or buy stuff upon arrival. If you have to furnish it yourself, you can honestly get by with so much less than you think for just a few months! Same with utilities. Get just the necessities! It can be a huge hassle to set up utilities for just a few months then cancel them.

Bottom Line for Housing

Arranging housing as a traveler can be frustrating sometimes, but there are lots of tips and tricks to make it easier and have a better experience. We generally recommend trying to set up housing on your own, so you can get the housing stipend and keep the extra money. If you are really struggling to find housing for an assignment, talk to your recruiter/staffing company and see if they can help you, and be sure to reach out to your colleagues in the travel therapy community, such as in Facebook groups!

Thanks for reading! We hope this gave you insight to how housing works as a healthcare traveler. To continue learning, check out the rest of our Travel Therapy 101 Mini-Series!

If you have questions or are ready to get started on your travel therapy journey, please feel free to contact us or ask us for recommendations for our favorite travel therapy recruiters to help you get started!

Written by Whitney Eakin, PT, DPT, ATC

Whitney Eakin headshot

Whitney has been a traveling physical therapist since 2015 and travels with her significant other and fellow Travel PT, Jared. Together they mentor and educate other current and aspiring travel therapists via their website Travel Therapy Mentor.

Should SLPs Travel During Their Clinical Fellowship Year?

Should SLPs Travel during their Clinical Fellowship year?

We often get questions about whether it’s a good idea to pursue travel therapy as a new grad therapist. We have addressed this topic as it pertains to PT/OT many times, but not specifically for SLP’s during their clinical fellowship year. In this guest post, traveling SLP Kathryn Mancewicz outlines the pros/cons to traveling during the CFY and gives her insights and advice to those considering it!

Guest Post by Kathryn Mancewicz, MS, CCC-SLP

Should You Travel During Your Clinical Fellowship Year?

Congrats! You survived the sometimes grueling but yet wonderful experience that is grad school. Next stop, your first real SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) job. As you start searching for jobs, you might be wondering, should I pursue travel therapy as a new grad SLP?

Travel therapy as a new grad is a little different for SLPs because, unlike physical therapists (PTs) and occupational therapists (OTs), we have to complete a Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY) before we are officially released into the world. This means we have to consider what our CFY will look like as a traveler versus in a permanent position. As someone who began traveling after 2 years in a permanent job, I can definitely see the pros and cons of both options.

So, should you travel for your clinical fellowship? That’s a question only you can answer, but consider the following before jumping into this exciting (and crazy!) time in your career.

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Pros of Travel Therapy as a Clinical Fellow

Chances are if you are reading this, you already know that you can make way more money as a travel therapist than you can in a permanent job. So I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this pro of travel therapy since there are lots of posts which address this more specifically.

So what other benefits are there to traveling as a clinical fellow?

First of all, you have the opportunity to go somewhere you might not ever live in otherwise. That is one of the most fun parts of traveling. The US is an amazing country and travel therapy makes accessing new places much easier. Traveling as a clinical fellow (CF) allows you to explore new places without having to fully commit to “settling down” there.

Another benefit of travel therapy is the diversity of experiences you can have in a relatively short amount of time.

Over the past year of traveling, I have had the opportunity to gain clinical experience with a lot of different disorders and settings. In just the past 9 months (the approximate length of a clinical fellowship), I have worked in an inpatient hospital, an outpatient hospital clinic, a small rural hospital that was really more like a SNF, and a middle school. I have worked with people from ages 18 months to 99 years. I have treated everything from articulation disorders to dysphagia and all sorts of things in between.

Since then, I have been told by several seasoned SLPs who have interviewed me that I have a very impressive resume. This isn’t said to brag, but to show you the possibility that travel therapy can offer. Getting that wide range of experiences definitely isn’t possible in a traditional clinical fellowship. But, that begs the question, is more necessarily better during a clinical fellowship, or would you be better off waiting and getting that experience after you have a year or two of work under your belt?

Limitations and Challenges of Traveling During your CFY

According to ASHA regulations, a clinical fellow needs to have 36 weeks of supervised experience during which time they need at least 6 hours of direct and 6 hours of indirect supervision from their CFY supervisor each segment (a segment is 12 weeks). Your clinical fellowship mentor is someone who is meant to help guide you through the first part of your career. And this experience and mentorship (or lack thereof) can really shape your future career and confidence as an SLP.

As someone who had a knowledgeable, amazing, caring mentor for my clinical fellowship, I cannot stress just how important this person is. I am so much more confident as a clinician because of that experience. Additionally, staying at the same perm job for another year after completing my clinical fellowship helped me grow and thrive even more.

If you jump around every 13 weeks as a traveler, ensuring you have strong supervision for all 3 of those 13 week placements becomes significantly more challenging. It can be hard to find one good CF supervisor, let alone 3. Plus, if your mentor doesn’t actually provide all the supervision necessary, you run the risk of having your license in question before you even get it. Terrifying if you ask me.

Typically, traveling SLPs are also expected to be independent. So, it is even possible that you will be the only SLP onsite as a traveler. Not having someone else around to bounce ideas off of or ask questions to can be really challenging, and especially so as a CF.

What Settings are Most Conducive to Travel Therapy for Clinical Fellows?

If you really have your heart set on becoming a traveling SLP during your CFY, I definitely think there are some settings that are more conducive to travel than others.

I completed my CFY in an elementary school as a permanent therapist and then traveled in the medical setting starting in my 3rd year, so I feel I can attest to the experience in both settings.

My first medical experience, it was really important to me to have a hospital that would provide some support before just throwing me into it, since I had completed my CFY as a school therapist. I was fortunate to have an awesome mentor for what I consider to be a mini medical clinical fellowship experience while on my first travel therapy contract. Without this, I would have been in huge trouble on my second placement where I was all on my own. I cannot imagine doing this as a clinical fellow. It would have been a nightmare.

In my opinion, a school is the place to be if you want to be a traveler for your CFY. There are several reasons.

  • You are more likely to stay in one place for the entire 36 week CFY.
  • There are most likely other SLPs in the district to provide mentorship and supervision even if they aren’t at your same school.
  • You can focus on honing your clinical skills and adjusting to your job without having to change it again in 3 months.
  • The pay is still travel pay, which is significantly more than you would make as a district employee.
  • While it is always possible to be cancelled, it is less likely to occur in a school setting than in an acute or SNF setting.

Tips to Maximize Success if You Decide to Travel During Your CFY

Whether or not you decide to travel, it is very important to be able to speak directly with your would-be clinical fellowship supervisor. Interviewing with the hiring manager and never getting to talk to your soon to be mentor is NOT something I would recommend.

The transition from grad school to the “real world” is huge. That’s why having strong mentorship and being in a situation where you won’t have to deal with ethical quandaries is so important. Here are some questions I would recommend asking in the phone interview to maximize your chances of having a successful travel clinical fellowship year.

Questions to ask the facility/travel company:

  • What kind of mentorship will I have onsite or in the district? Will there be any other SLPs at my school/facility? And will I be servicing more than one site? Will my supervisor be another district employee or will it be someone off site from my travel company (ask this to your travel company and to the location where you are interviewing).
  • Will my CFY supervisor be allotted time in her/his schedule to complete required supervision activities?
  • What kind of training/orientation will I be given? Am I expected to start seeing my full caseload day one or do I have a “ramp up time”?
  • How many hours of work am I expected to get each week? (Fewer hours could potentially result in a longer clinical fellowship experience. ‘Guaranteed hours’ from your travel company will get you paid even if you don’t actually have full time work hours, but the hours where you aren’t seeing clients or completing other relevant tasks won’t count towards your CFY requirements.)
  • Has your facility worked with clinical fellows before?
  • Will I be allowed to participate in SLP professional development activities with other district SLPs?
  • How much time will I have during a typical day for planning/paperwork/completing evaluations?

Questions to ask your potential clinical fellowship supervisor:

  • How do you approach mentorship? Are you more hands on or hands off? What can I expect mentorship to look like with you?
  • What kind of feedback will you provide me with and how often can I expect it?
  • What was your clinical fellowship experience like and how does that impact how you will engage in supervision?
  • Why are you willing to supervise a CF?
  • Have you supervised clinical fellows or students before? How did you manage it with your other workload responsibilities?

To Travel or Not to Travel

As we all know, the clinical fellowship year is really important for us as SLPs. Not just for the 9 months that it is happening, but for our long term success as well. It is up to you to decide what is right for you, but here are my thoughts about the bottom line.

Do I think completing your clinical fellowship in a travel contract at a school setting would be ok? Probably yes if you ask the right questions and don’t settle for a subpar contract/mentorship. Would I recommend working as a traveler for a medical CFY? No, I definitely wouldn’t. I think all the jumping around would be just too much on top of what is already a very challenging year.

I am very happy with the decision I made to complete my clinical fellowship year and one additional year at the same school district before deciding to become a traveling SLP. I got great mentorship, and the experience helped me feel more confident in my clinical skills even as I transitioned to other settings. My clinical fellowship experience is not something I would have changed because it has helped me become a stronger, more confident SLP, and that is something I now take with me to every place I go.

Kathryn Mancewicz, MS, CCC-SLP is a full time RVer and traveling speech language pathologist (SLP). She also provides online speech therapy for kids of all ages. She graduated in 2017 from the University of New Mexico with a Masters of Speech Language Pathology and a bilingual emphasis. In the past 5 years, Kathryn has lived in 7 different states and counting. She writes about her work as a traveling SLP and how it has helped shape and accelerate her journey towards financial independence at her blog Money and Mountains.

We would like to thank Kathryn for her insightful article about traveling during the clinical fellowship year! If you’re an SLP or SLP student considering getting into travel therapy, please feel free to contact us for advice and mentorship, or to get recommendations for travel therapy recruiters who can help you get your travel career started!

~Whitney & Jared, Travel Therapy Mentors