Being a Solo Travel Therapist

Photo of Morgan hiking with title "Being a Solo Travel Therapist, Guest Post by Morgan Lauchnor TravelTherapyMentor.com"

While we have always traveled as a pair, most travel therapists actually travel solo! We are excited to share a guest post from Traveling Occupational Therapist Morgan Lauchnor, who travels on her own. We hope her insights will help give you the confidence to pursue this path on your own as well if you think it’s right for you!


When looking into travel therapy, the ability to travel with a spouse, significant other, or with friends sounds like the ideal situation, but often times this isn’t an option for some people. That shouldn’t prevent you from still deciding to try out travel therapy though! In fact, a good majority of travel therapists are solo travelers. Some people, like myself, even wanted to travel solo. Venturing into it on your own might seem daunting and scary, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. The world is way too big and life is too short to wait around for someone to go with you on this opportunity of a lifetime!

Benefits of Traveling Solo

Enhances Independence & Empowerment

Any time you follow your dreams, go after what you want, and face your fears, it’s going to be the most empowering feeling. Solo travel is the definition of freedom, independence, and living life on your own terms.

Builds Self-Confidence

Taking the leap to go into the unknown on your own is brave. There is so much growth that comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and there’s nothing that pushes you outside your perceived limits quite like traveling solo, because you really have no choice but to handle whatever challenges get thrown your way. You develop a ‘can-do’ attitude and become more relaxed and comfortable figuring things out on your own. And not just in the cities you travel, but any new job assignments you take on.

Gives You Total Freedom

On your own, you have the freedom to choose the states/cities where you want to take assignments. You also get to decide how you spend your weekdays, weekends, and everything in between, without worrying about disappointing or negotiating with other people. In traveler pairs, it often limits options because you have to find places that will accommodate both of you, and they might not want to go/explore the same places that you do.

Boosts Your Problem-Solving Creativity

Traveling rarely goes smoothly or according to plan: cars get flat tires, assignments get cancelled, you get lost (a lot in my case). It’s all a part of the solo adventure and the stories you’ll share of how you got through. The best stories never come from the things that went smoothly, right? And as healthcare professionals, we are creative problem solvers for our patients, so this skill can be carried with us into our practice as well.

Fosters Self-Discovery

Traveling solo is the best way to get to know yourself. Exploring new places and new cultures, outside your comfort zone, figuring things out on your own, you discover just how much you’re capable of.

Challenges of Traveling Solo & How to Overcome Them:

Being Alone/Lonely

One of my first assumptions as a solo traveler was that I would be on my own most of the time, especially since my first assignment was all the way across the country in a state where I knew no one. But once I was out there, I realized there are SO many opportunities to meet people. I ended up being surrounded by friends and mentors, some becoming lifelong friends. I also always try to take advantage of visiting any family/friends nearby who I might not ever get the chance to see otherwise.  

Ways to meet people:

  • Doing things with co-workers outside of work: There might be other travelers at your assignment that will go on adventures with you, or you might get to know the perm workers who are typically great assets to show you around your new city/give you tips on the best spots!
  • Connect through apps and social media: Travel therapy/nursing Facebook groups, following other travelers and travel therapy companies on Instagram, and apps like MedVenture, designed specifically for connecting with other traveling healthcare professionals, are all great ways to find people in your area and also to just have a supportive community to lean on.
  • Get involved with local organizations and community groups.
  • Just get out and explore the area! (This was a lot easier to do before the pandemic, but hopefully now that there’s a vaccine and more things are opening, this will be more of an option again)  

Another thing to consider if you’re worried about feeling lonely is bringing a pet with you on your travels! I got a puppy while on assignment in CA, and she’s now traveled with me to TX and NC as well. It definitely makes things a little more challenging, but I can’t imagine the travel life without her anymore!

Safety

This has never been an issue for me personally, but it’s always something to keep in mind traveling by yourself, especially for female solo travelers. Before committing to a new assignment, research the area to see if it is somewhere you’d feel comfortable living, look into the housing options available to make sure you’d feel safe, and always trust your gut if something feels off. When you’re on assignment, tell people where you’re going, bring mace with you on hikes and while out exploring, and ask the locals of places to go and if there are areas to avoid.

Boredom

Sometimes you might live and work in areas that are rural or with limited things to do. In cases like this, I focus a lot on hobbies and things I wish I had more time for—like CEUs, reading, cooking, planning future travels, blogging, etc. But ultimately, you’re choosing where you want to work, so if you’re someone who needs to be doing things and wants to be around people, consider choosing assignments that are in busier locations.

Costs

Traveling alone can definitely be more costly than traveling as a pair, since you are the sole provider. Housing is usually one of the biggest costs that you incur as a solo traveler. One way you can cut down on housing costs would be to consider living with roommates. Traveling therapist/nursing pages are a great way to reach out to people in the area to see if anyone is interested in splitting housing costs, or ask your supervisor if any of your coworkers have a room for rent or are looking for a roommate. This can also be another great way to meet people and have people to do things with!

Summary

Ultimately, I truly believe that the pros of traveling solo far outweigh the cons. If it’s in your heart to do travel therapy, don’t be afraid to take the leap. There’s a whole community of other travelers out there who are here to support you and help you along the way!

Even if you go for it and it doesn’t work out, you still win. You still had the guts enough to head straight into something that frightened you. That type of bravery will take you places.


About Morgan

I’m a traveling occupational therapist who started right out of school as a new grad. Originally from eastern PA, I got my Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from the University of Pittsburgh and went on to get my Masters in Occupational Therapy degree from the University of St. Augustine in St. Augustine, FL in 2019. I was introduced to travel therapy at a job fair there and knew right then that’s what I wanted to do. I completed my fieldwork rotations in Greenville, SC and St. Louis, MO, so I already felt like I was traveling before taking the leap. But once I did start my official travel therapy journey, I road tripped cross-country from PA to OR to begin my first travel assignment in Ashland, OR and have been traveling ever since! I’ve now been on five assignments in OR, CA, TX, and currently NC, and my pup Zoey has traveled with me since CA. We love exploring new cities, getting outside any chance we can, visiting breweries and wineries, and meeting the best people along the way!

If you’d like to connect, the best way to contact me is through social media: Instagram: @zoandmo_onthego or through email at mlauchnor@gmail.com. I am also currently in the process of starting a blog, The ChrOnic WanderlusTer, so keep your eye out for that soon!

Travel Therapy Recruiters 101

Travel Therapy recruiters 101

An important first step to getting started as a traveling therapist (Travel PT, Travel OT, Travel SLP) is to find good recruiters to work with. The recruiter is your main point of contact when working with a travel therapy company and searching for travel therapy jobs. Your recruiter can honestly make or break your experience as a travel therapist, so it’s very important to choose good ones! But, how do you find them? And what’s the process like when working with recruiters? Let’s dive in to learn more!

What’s the Role of the Recruiter?

Most travel therapists work through a travel therapy company, aka a travel therapy staffing agency (as opposed to working as an independent contractor). There are a lot of advantages of using a travel therapy company, and overall it makes the process easier.

At the company, your main point of contact is the recruiter. The recruiter helps you get your profile/application set up with the company, walks you through the process, answers any questions you have, helps you navigate the job finding process, notifies you about new job opportunities, submits your application for jobs, and is there for you while you’re on contract to be a liaison for any issues that arise.

So as you can see, it’s vital to have a good connection with your recruiter(s), and to find the good ones! A good recruiter will be friendly, quick to respond, great with communication, very organized, trustworthy, honest, and knowledgeable! Check out this list of questions you should ask a company/recruiter so that you can choose the best ones!

Finding Good Recruiters

There are hundreds of travel therapy companies out there, and thousands of recruiters, so it can be difficult to narrow down the good ones! All companies and recruiters will market themselves as the best, but in reality not all of them are created equal! Even if you identify a company you like, there can be huge differences in the recruiters within an individual company.

If you just rely on the marketing of the companies themselves when Google searching or talking to companies at conference booths, you’re subject to them being very biased and trying to convince you they’re the best. This is why we don’t recommend going directly to companies you find on Google or at conferences and signing up on their email list. This is a sure fire way to get spammed constantly by their emails and get contacted by a bunch of random recruiters, whom may or may not be good!

The best way to find trustworthy recruiters is to go off recommendations from other travel therapists who have had good experiences with specific recruiters. If possible, you want to ask travelers who have worked with a few different companies and have been traveling for at least 2 years. This way they will have had enough time to know what to look out for with recruiters and will be able to give you the best advice.

Over the last several years we have interviewed dozens of companies and recruiters and worked with several different ones ourselves in order to narrow down some of the best ones. If you’d like our recommendations for recruiters, you can fill out this form, and we will take into account your personal preferences when recommending recruiters for you. We’ve found that different companies and recruiters work better for different people, based on what the individual is looking for, what’s important to them, and their personality!

Getting Established with Recruiters

We recommend getting started searching for recruiters at least 8 weeks prior to when you would plan to start a travel therapy job. If possible, you can even begin this process 3-4 months in advance. This will give you plenty of time to talk to several recruiters and narrow down who you like, then get a profile/application set up with each company. It’s important to have these steps done several weeks before you actually anticipate starting a travel job. It takes a little time to get your application set up, and you need to have this squared away so that your application is ready to go when jobs start popping up, so you can be submitted right away.

We always recommend that therapists work with 2-4 different recruiters, each at a different company. “Working with” multiple recruiters/companies means that you are keeping in communication with them, but you are not actually an employee of one company unless you are actively working a contract with them. The reason why you want to work with more than one is so you’ll have more job options available to you, as companies will not all have the same job options. In addition, it gives you an opportunity to compare offers including pay packages, benefits and more.

The Process of Working with Recruiters

When you have multiple recruiters, you want to be transparent and let each of them know that you’re also working with other recruiters. Some recruiters will give you some push-back on this and say that you only need to work with one, however usually the good recruiters will understand why you are working with multiple. This is standard practice, and it’s what most successful travel therapists do. It is always in your best interest to work with more than one recruiter/company so you don’t miss out on any job options, and so you can see the big picture by comparing offers.

There is a professional and tactful way to go about working with more than one recruiter. You want to have integrity and be a trustworthy traveler, so that the recruiters want to work hard for you. It’s important not to “pit” recruiters against each other on offers and not to burn bridges.

Generally, this is how it works: you stay in communication with all of your recruiters throughout each job search. They will present job options to you, and you will say whether you want your application submitted or not. It’s important to make sure that you don’t get submitted to the same job by two different recruiters. If two or more recruiters tell you about the same job, you need to choose right away which one you’d like to submit you for the job and tell the other one no. We usually recommend going with whoever told you about the job first, so you can take advantage of being submitted as quickly as possible (increasing your likelihood of landing the job) and to be fair to the recruiter who presented the job first. If two recruiters more or less tell you at the same time, you should have in mind already which one you’d like to go with over the other. Hopefully they can both give you a ballpark pay range when they first tell you about the job option, because it’s really too slow of a process if you have to go back and forth and try to find out who pays higher for the job and then make a decision. Waiting around to try to compare pay before submitting your application could result in losing out on your chance for the job interview!

During your job search, you might be submitted for multiple jobs with multiple recruiters at the same time. Then, if you get phone interviews and subsequent job offers, you’ll have to decide which one to take. Once you’ve accepted a job offer, you will respectfully let your team of other recruiters know that you’ve taken a job. Then, you’ll let them know the date that you’ll be done with that contract, so they’ll know a few weeks before that you’ll be ready to search for your next job. On the next job search, you go back to communicating with all of your recruiters to try to find your next job!

To learn more about why you should work with multiple recruiters, and how this process works, check out this article.

Summary for Finding & Working with Recruiters

The recruiter is your main point of contact at a travel therapy company, and your recruiters can make or break your experience as a travel therapist! We always recommend staying in contact with 2-4 different recruiters, so that you have more job options at your fingertips and can compare pay and benefits packages. It’s best to work with recruiters that experienced travelers recommend, so you can be sure they’ve been vetted! You can ask us for recommendations on recruiters we know and trust, and we will help you get set up with them!

There is some strategy and finesse involved when working with multiple recruiters, but once you figure out how to navigate this process, you’ll be well on your way to finding great travel therapy jobs and having a successful travel therapy experience!


Stay tuned for the rest of our Travel Therapy 101 Mini-Series in order to learn all the basics of travel therapy, including: pay, housing, working with recruiters, tax homes, and more!

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

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