Can You Find a Travel Therapy Job Anywhere in the Country?

A common question we get from aspiring travel therapists involves how to find a travel therapy job in a specific state or even in a specific city. Usually the question is coming from a therapist who has limited knowledge on how travel therapy works, but they found our website, our Instagram account, or saw our hot jobs list during a search for travel therapy information and are reaching out to us for help.

Often these therapists are in one of these situations:

  • already planning to move to a specific city long term and wants to try a travel contract there before committing to a permanent position
  • or has heard good things about a city and wants to check it out short term before committing to moving there
  • or they only want to take travel jobs in specific cities where they have family or friends
  • or they just have their heart set on certain cities to explore with travel contracts (like San Diego or Austin)
  • or they’re a therapist looking to take “local travel therapy contracts” in the area where they already live

These individuals are usually looking to take advantage of some of the perks of travel therapy jobs, such as higher pay, trying out different settings without committing to a permanent job, and flexible time off between contracts, but while being able to choose the exact city/state where they want to work. Sometimes they’ve heard from a recruiter or another travel therapist that they can work where ever they want as a traveler, but they don’t understand how the process works.

So, Can You Take a Travel Job Anywhere You Want in the US? Well, It Depends.

Unfortunately, although it is theoretically possible to work anywhere in the country if a travel job is available, often there isn’t going to be a travel job opening in a specific city at the time you need it. This is especially the case if there’s a certain setting you want as well. Of course, this will always depend on the city in question, because some cities consistently have significantly more travel therapy jobs than others. For example, say you’re a PT who wants to find a pediatric outpatient travel job in Salt Lake City, Utah. Although it would theoretically be possible for a job like that to pop up, the odds are very low, and it could take years to see a contract like that. In fact, in 6+ years of traveling, we’ve only seen a handful of PT travel jobs in any setting in all of Utah. The odds of finding a travel contract in Utah in general are already low, but adding in a specific city and setting make finding something to fit that criteria almost impossible. On the other hand, say you’re a PT who wants to find a travel contract near San Francisco, California and you’re open to outpatient or home health. In that case, it’s going to be a lot more likely to find what you’re looking for and you’ll probably see a lot of job options.

But Why?

Some therapy students and new therapists think that just because it’s possible to work anywhere in the country as a travel therapist, that this means they can find a job anywhere they want at any time. They may have the impression that travel therapy companies are essentially creating a new job for them when they want to go to an area, but that’s not how travel therapy works. In order for a travel job to exist, there has to be a facility with a need that is specifically looking for a short term employee at that time. Usually that need will be due to something like a sudden increase in caseload, a permanent therapist at the facility recently quitting, a permanent therapist out on medical leave, or difficulty with finding a permanent therapist to fill an open position. No matter what the reason, a travel therapy recruiter can’t create a job in an area where a need doesn’t currently exist. So, depending what area you’re searching and the open job availability at that time, travel therapy just in one area may or may not work out.

In addition, for popular places such as San Diego, CA or Austin, TX, you’ll have to take into account competition for jobs in the area. Not only are these areas competitive for permanent positions because they’re highly desirable places to live (which means you won’t see travel therapist needs there as often), but when there are travel jobs there, these positions are highly competitive and often get taken really quickly because many travelers want to go there.

So, What If I Only Want One Location, Is Travel Not an Option For Me?

Not necessarily. It’s just going to depend on the city and/or state of interest, and how flexible you are on different settings. If you’re someone who is only interested in traveling to one area, or you’re interested in pursuing travel jobs within a commutable distance from where you currently live, it is possible that you may have some options. It’s never a bad idea to get connected with a few travel therapy recruiters to discuss your job search and see what job availability they may have for you.

But, don’t be too surprised if they tell you that they don’t have any job options in the exact location where you’re looking, or in your preferred setting. You may have to be open to a bigger search radius, different settings, or both in order to make travel therapy jobs a reality. Depending on the area, this could mean that you need to be open to within an hour or two of the exact city, or for some areas it could mean you need to be open to the entire state or even nearby states. Every state and city is going to have varying job availability for travel positions, and this job availability literally can change by the month, week, day, or hour, depending on fluctuations in staffing needs.

In some cases, travel therapy companies can try to “cold call” facilities in the area you’re looking, in order to see if a facility would be interested in having a travel therapist there short term, even if they don’t currently have a listing. But this is not always fruitful and is time consuming for recruiters, so if they’re already busy with a lot of other travelers, it may not be something they’re willing or able to do.

The bottom line is, if you’re only open to a small area and are only looking for certain settings, your options are going to be limited. It’s possible you can line up one travel therapy contract to suit your needs, but it may be less likely that you’ll obtain consistent employment as a travel therapist just in one region. There are certain therapists who are able to get their exact desired location and setting for a travel job, and there are certainly therapists who live at home and find consistent contracts within a commutable distance. But this is not always the case and certainly not how most travel therapists do it. As always, “it depends.”

How Would “Local Travel Therapy Contracts” Work if I Can Find Them?

Let’s say that for the particular city or region you’re interested in, there are some travel job options. You can accept a “travel therapy” job anywhere in the country. But, you’ll need to take into account the IRS Tax Home Rules in order to determine how you would get paid as a therapist working that job.

If you’re unfamiliar with travel therapy pay, we suggest checking out our Comprehensive Guide to Travel Therapy Pay to better understand how typical travel therapy contracts and pay packages work. Part of the reason that typical travel therapists make a lot more money, is due to tax-free stipends as part of their pay packages. But, in order to qualify for these tax-free stipends, you need to meet certain Tax Home rules. The best resource to learn more about Tax Homes is

For example, if you are maintaining a permanent residence in another state, duplicating expenses, and meeting all the tax home rules, but you want to go try out a travel therapy job in a new city/state to see if you want to move there or just check it out for a few months, you can likely accept the pay package like a normal travel therapist with tax-free stipends.

However, if you move your permanent residence to a new area and are just taking a travel contract or two to decide on a job you like in the new area, before accepting a permanent job, you’re likely not meeting the tax home rules and would have all of your pay taxed for your contract.

Similarly, if you plan to live at home at your permanent residence and commute to “travel” contracts within your area, you are not meeting the tax home rules because you are not duplicating expenses, and therefore your pay package will be fully taxed, rather than receiving tax-free stipends like a traditional travel therapist. (Yes this is the case even if the job is more than 50 miles from your home. This “50 mile rule” you sometimes hear about is actually a “50 mile myth.” Being 50+ miles away does NOT qualify you for tax free stipends per IRS rules. If you are living at home and commuting to the job, regardless of how many miles away the job is, you aren’t meeting the requirements to receive tax free stipends.) Doing this, you’ll likely still earn significantly more than a permanent therapist, but not as much as a traditional travel therapist who is receiving tax free stipends. Your pay as a “local traveler” would likely be more like a PRN rate.

Take Home Message

Typically, to be a travel therapist, you need to be somewhat flexible on locations in order to find consistent travel contracts. We usually recommend that therapists open up their search criteria to at minimum an entire state, or a few states. Then, from there, you can see what travel job options are available, and start narrowing down your job search based on the settings, pay packages, etc.

However we understand that some therapists may have limitations on the geographic locations they are willing or able to travel to, but they’re still interested in pursuing short-term contracts to take advantage of the higher pay, flexibility to take time off, and flexibility to try out different settings. If this is the situation you’re in, we recommend getting in touch with a few travel therapy recruiters to find out what options they may have available, or seeing if they can “cold call” facilities for you to try to arrange a travel contract. Alternatively, you could consider being an independent contractor and calling around to arrange your own short-term contracts in an area, although this is a lot more hassle and may or may not be worth it depending on your situation. Last, you can consider applying directly to regular therapy jobs in the area that are listed as permanent or PRN positions, then if you are given the opportunity to interview, you could ask about taking the job as a short term contract rather than long term if that would suit your needs better.

Keep in mind that if you do take “local travel contracts” just in one region, you need to consider the tax home laws and implications before accepting any pay package which includes tax-free stipends.

We hope that this helps better explain different options that you have if you’re considering taking travel therapy contracts just in one specific area. Please send us a message if you have more questions, or fill out this form if you’d like to get connected with travel therapy recruiters and companies that we trust.

Written by Whitney Eakin, PT, DPT, ATC
& Jared Casazza, PT, DPT

Whitney and Jared have been traveling physical therapists since 2015. Together they have mentored and educated thousands of current and aspiring travel therapists.

Shipping Your Car Across the US for a Travel Therapy Job

Picture of Nick and Alison in front of a cityscape with the title "Shipping your car across the US for a travel therapy job Guest Post by Alison Carr for"

We at Travel Therapy Mentor often get questions about moving across the country for travel therapy jobs, including what’s the best way to get your car across the country. There are a few options for solo travelers, such as: road tripping across the country in your car alone, road tripping across the country with a friend and the friend flies back, or flying across the country and shipping your car. For pairs trying to get two cars across the country, you could road trip in both cars, road trip in one car while your partner ships their car, road trip in one car while towing a second car if you have towing capabilities, or both fly and ship both cars. Personally, we have always driven two cars to our assignments, but our longest move was 12 hours and most of them much shorter than that. We know that a lot of travelers have chosen car shipping options for longer hauls. Since we have never shipped a car ourselves, we asked our travel PT friends Alison and Nick about their experience with shipping cars as a travel pair. Check out what Alison had to say below in case you are considering shipping your car!

Alison & Nick’s Experience

One of the biggest parts of being a travel therapist is changing job locations, and many of us end up going long distances across the US from one contract to the next. This can be a great opportunity to take a road trip if that’s your thing. However, road trips are not always the preferred option for a variety of reasons. This is where shipping a car is a good option. As a traveling pair, Nick and I have always had basically three options: road trip in two cars, road trip in one car and ship the other, or ship both cars. Personally, we’ve always chosen to ship at least one car on all four of our cross-country moves (yes, I consider our trip from Miami to Connecticut to be cross-country!).

The first step in deciding whether or not to ship your car is to decide whether or not you want to do the road trip to your next job contract. Road trips are a great way to see the United States, but there is a lot of driving involved, obviously. Neither Nick nor I love driving long distances, and the only thing that makes long car rides bearable is being in the car together listening to music or podcasts or discussing where we should stop for dinner. For that reason, we always knew that we were going to ship at least one car every time we moved a long distance. But after we drove from Miami to Connecticut in one car (and shipped the other) during our first move, and then drove from Upstate New York to Las Vegas in one car (and shipped the other) during our second move, we knew that we didn’t want to do the same cross-country road trip again so soon to Pennsylvania from Vegas on our next one. So we decided to ship both cars to Pennsylvania, and 6 months later we shipped both cars again when we returned to Vegas from Pennsylvania.

Factors to Consider for Shipping a Car

  • Cost: You need to compare the cost of shipping the car(s) to what a road trip would cost. For the road trip, keep in mind the costs of gas, food, and lodging. If you’re a traveling pair, you have the option to ship one car while you road trip with the other car, or ship both cars and not road trip at all.  The price quote of the car shipment depends mostly on distance from the pick-up address to drop-off address, availability of truck drivers, and number other people shipping their cars on the same route. For example, shipping your car from the Northeast US to Florida at the beginning of winter will be more expensive because many people are trying to do that at the same time. To give you an idea, we spent about $1000 to ship one car and $2000 to ship both on each of our trips. The cost was roughly the same from Miami to Pennsylvania (1200 miles) as it was Pennsylvania to Las Vegas (2500 miles). If you were wondering if there is a discount for shipping two cars- there is! We were given $150 off for shipping a second car in the same shipment. We also got $50 off for being return customers to the same auto transport broker company.  We had to remember to specifically ask for those discounts. For us, since we don’t want to drive, we prefer the convenience of shipping our cars. If you are shipping your only car(s) and flying, then you need to also add in the cost of the flight(s) to the auto shipment cost.
  • Flexibility of travel time: The car shipment company will need an approximate 7-day availability window for them to pick up your car. Then you car will take an additional set of days to arrive to your destination, and this amount of time depends on distance, weather, traffic, etc. For all of our cross-country trips, we have planned for a 14-day period, which assumes they pick up the car on the last day of the 7-day window and then 7 days for the car to ship across the US. If you only have one week between travel contracts, this might be a little tricky. The company that we always work with says that a 7-day availability window for pick-up is ideal for finding the best price, but I have been told that a 3-5 day window would also be acceptable. So I assume that if you only have a 10-day period between contracts, this shortened pick-up availability window would make that work. You might just end up paying slightly more for it.
  • Location of your physical self in relationship to the car pick-up and drop-off: Most companies ship your car from door to door, which means you or someone you trust with your car(s) needs to be at both the origin and destination points to both pick up and drop off the car(s). If you are planning to ship one car and road trip with the other, then you need to drive the origin to destination distance in the same amount of time as the truck driver. If you are trying to do any sight-seeing, it would be tricky to be at both the drop-off and pick-up points. When we shipped our cars from Vegas to Pennsylvania, the driver made it to Pennsylvania in 3.5 days. Our road trip itinerary, including sight seeing, was about 8 days, so we planned ahead of time for my Dad to be the destination person. Terminal to terminal transport is another option, discussed below.
  • Wear and tear: This last one is no-brainer. There will be less wear and tear and miles on your car if you ship it, which is an important factor to consider especially if you have an older car, are concerned about its reliability, or simply don’t want to run up the miles on your car.

The Process for Shipping Your Car

To start the process of shipping your car, or the process of considering shipping your car, you ‘ll need to get quotes from various auto transport brokers. When you research online for auto shipping quotes, the companies that respond to you with quotes are auto transport brokers. The brokers are neither the owners of the trucks nor the employers of the truck drivers.  The broker will never have any physical contact with your car. They are only finding you an auto transport carrier, who is the company who owns the truck and/or employs the driver that will be physically transporting your car. The broker will list your car(s) on the “National Dispatch Boards” for a certain pick-up window (dates are your decision) at a certain price (the broker’s suggestion), and then an auto transport carrier will offer to transport your car(s). From what I understand, many auto transport carriers specialize in certain routes. For example, the truck driver who transported my car from upstate NY to Las Vegas told me that he only drove the route between upstate NY and California, and Vegas is on the way. So while we have used the same auto transport broker four times (savings of $150 in total for being return customers!), we have never ended up using the same auto transport carrier because either our origin or destination points have been at least slightly different for 3 of our 4 moves.

Things you need to know before getting a quote:

  • Pick up and drop off location: You will give the broker a zip code or address where the car will be picked up and dropped off. These addresses can be slightly changed (within reason!) once your auto transport carrier is assigned to you if your housing situation is up in the air. For example, when we moved to Vegas, our first housing choice fell through, so we had to have the truck driver take our cars to our new housing address that was 15 minutes away from the original address. We let the driver know one day in advance of the drop-off and it was not a problem. I think when they have already driven your car 2500+ miles, an extra 10 miles isn’t a big deal!
  • First available date: This is the first day that your car will be available for pick-up. When getting a quote, you need to plan for your car to be available for 5-7 days after the first available date. When the auto transport carrier accepts your bid, they will tell you the date within the 7-day window during which the driver will pick up your car. Our car(s) were always picked up within 3-4 days of the first available date that we provided.
  • Open or enclosed transport: Open transport means that your car is exposed to the elements. Enclosed transport means that your car is protected from weather, rocks, etc inside of a transport container. You will be spending 30-65% more money if you choose enclosed transport. Enclosed transport is only really suggested for luxury cars or restored antique vehicles. I suggest that you instead use open transport and then spend $20 on the most expensive car wash you can find at the destination point to get all of the dirt and debris off of your car (trust me, you’ll need this). We have never had any damage to either of our cars while transporting them, but there was so much dirt on our cars after one of the shipments that we literally could not see out of the windows!
  • Door-to-Door or Terminal-to-Terminal: 
    • Door to door is exactly what it sounds like: This means that the auto carrier (truck driver) will pick up your car at your pick-up “door” (house or nearby side street) and then drop off your car at your drop-off “door” (house or nearby side street). You or some other predetermined person (who you trust with your vehicle!) will need to be at the pick-up location and drop-off location. Nick and I usually are at the pick-up (origin) location with our parents at the drop-off (destination) location. This can be tricky if you don’t have a trusted person on the other end, because then your travel plans must be centered around when the truck *may* arrive (this is a 3-5 day window, depending on how far you are shipping your car and the weather). When our cars were shipped to Pennsylvania form Vegas, they arrived 1 day earlier than estimated. If you were road tripping the same distance, you need to make sure that someone is at the drop-off point to accept your car(s). When our cars were shipped to Vegas the second time, our cars arrived two days later than originally estimated. So each trip is going to be a bit different because there are so many factors involved. This is why we always gave ourselves the 14-day window.
    • Terminal to terminal: You leave your car at a terminal, the auto carrier picks it up, they transport the car to the destination terminal, then you pick it up from the terminal when you arrive in town. According to the website of the broker that we use, the terminals now charge $15-$35 per day to store your car, but shipping the car terminal to terminal is slightly cheaper. You may have to pay those storage fees at both the origin and destination terminals. We have not tried this option, so we don’t have much experience with it; however, if we didn’t have parents or someone we trusted to be the origin or destination location, then this would be a good option. The other caveats with this option: it sounds like this will take a bit longer than door to door transport, and there are fewer terminals available these days. This means that there might not be terminals available near your origin or destination points, which means that you have to drive a ways to pick up your car… which is tricky if you shipped your only car.
  • Avoid being in the boonies while your car is shipped: You will need to be available by text/phone starting the day before your first available date until the moment your car arrives, just in case there are any changes from your truck driver.
  • Packing stuff in your car: I think this topic is a bit controversial, so I’ll share what Nick and I have done in the past. From our understanding, trucks get weighed at weigh stations and therefore your car should be the weight that your car specs say it is. Some auto transport brokers say that you can ship up to 100 pounds worth of stuff in your trunk. So that’s what we do. However, there can be NO personal belongings VISIBLE in your car when you ship it. Everything must be in your trunk. Nick and I pack each of our car’s trunks full of about 100-150 pounds worth of our stuff. And when I say “pack,” I mean we weigh every single item and then play a real-life game of tetris until our trunks barely close. You might think that shipping your car is also a great way to ship your stuff, but if you were road tripping, then you could put non-valuables in your backseat and also fill your trunk, which technically gives you more room for your stuff. Here is the other thing to keep in mind: if you put stuff in your trunk and ship your car, the truck driver (or anyone else) could steal literally everything, and you have no recourse to get it back because it was not supposed to be there in the first place, nor is it insured like your car is. Fortunately, we have never had anything stolen from us up to this point. I am now typing with one hand and knocking on wood with the other. 


Overall, I think that the decision to ship a car (or two cars, if you are a traveling pair) is a personal one. There are many factors that go into it, particularly time between contracts, cost, and feasibility of taking a road trip. As I mentioned earlier, Nick and I have always shipped at least one car. The next time that we take a travel contract, we will ship at least one car again. We much prefer the convenience of this because we don’t like to drive long distances.

It has always been a pretty smooth process for us, and we recommend it to anyone who doesn’t love road trips or cannot feasibly do one (as a Florida native, I can’t imagine driving through the Midwest in the winter!). I hope that these suggestions will help you in your decision-making.

Nick and Alison are physical therapists who met while in PT school at the University of Miami. They spent two years at permanent jobs prior to taking two 4-month outpatient Travel PT contracts: one in Connecticut and another in Las Vegas. They are currently working in permanent outpatient jobs in Las Vegas because they loved living there while on their travel contract. If you have any other questions about shipping your car, you’re welcome to email Alison at or find Nick and Alison on Instagram @TravelingwithNickandAlison