Arguably the two worst parts of being a travel physical therapist include: finding new jobs and applying for PT licenses in new states. Many other travelers would likely include finding housing on that list, but that has not been much of a hassle for us to this point due to choosing to live and travel in a fifth wheel camper. We do still have some difficulty finding campgrounds that will accept monthly renters, but since this is much more common than finding an apartment for three months, it usually isn’t so bad. I will be writing a post soon about our experience with finding and living at campgrounds.
We dread having to constantly look for new jobs and do several phone interviews every few months, but a good recruiter makes that much easier. For a single traveler, finding a job would not be very difficult, and it would be more about finding the best fit. But for us, we are limited in our selection due to having to find two jobs within driving distance of each other, as well as within driving distance of a campground. Whitney and I have both interviewed for jobs that sounded great but we ultimately had to turn down because there were no other openings close by for the other. There are two ways that we have done our best to combat the difficulty finding two jobs near each other. those include: being flexible on the state that we choose and being flexible in the settings that we will accept jobs in. This is why I have made a general outline of our travel plan but have some wiggle room as the exact state and setting.
An good example of being flexible on the state that we choose involves our current contracts. We decided that we would like to see the northeastern United States in the spring/summer. We heard amazing things about how beautiful Maine is this time of year and began looking for jobs there. Unfortunately, Maine had a grand total of six travel jobs available when we began looking, and four of those jobs were home health, which we are not comfortable accepting at this point in our careers. We were really set on going to Maine, but it just wasn’t feasible. Instead we began looking at the jobs available in all of the surrounding states, and to our surprise, Massachusetts had a total of over 45 jobs available, with nine of those being outpatient! Massachusetts is well within “weekend trip” distance from Maine, so we could take jobs there and still explore Maine where we wanted to be originally. We easily found two outpatient jobs in Massachusetts (in the same clinic) and actually had other offers as well.
Although Massachusetts started out as not being our first choice, we are now really glad that we took jobs here. We have been able to take trips to: Cape Cod, Boston, Plymouth, New York City, New Hampshire, and Maine so far in the past nine weeks here. That would have been much more difficult from Maine since it is not as centrally located as Massachusetts. Since this is partially a finance blog, I also want to mention that most of the expenses from these trips (including staying in 5-star hotels) were afforded using credit card sign-up bonuses!
Being lenient on setting has allowed us to keep from having large gaps between jobs. For my first travel job, I accepted a contract at a small hospital in Virginia working in acute care and skilled nursing. I was extremely nervous about this decision since I had never worked in either of these settings before. The reason I accepted this job was because Whitney interviewed for a SNF job nearby that she really liked and decided to accept. The hospital job was one of my only options at that point since we were locked into that particular location. Although I was very hesitant to accept that job, I ended up really enjoying it and actually stayed for nine months (eventually moving to the outpatient department) while Whitney did not like her assignment and left after three months. This was ironic due to the fact that she got her first choice while I had to take what was available nearby. Since I enjoyed my assignment so much and decided to stay, Whitney was then forced into a situation where she had to compromise and move to another SNF that was not ideal, but was about 45 minutes from the clinic where I was working.
So far neither Whitney nor I have had to take a single unpaid day off of work because of not being able to find a contract. Many other travelers choose to take a week or two off of work between contracts for vacation or to move to a new location, but we have chosen not to do this so that we can reach our financial independence goals sooner. That being said, obviously it is not just all work and no play for us. In addition to all of the weekend trips mentioned above, we are also planning a trip to Jamaica in August or September (also almost all free from credit card sign-up bonuses). I think that one week of vacation every year is ideal while trying to accumulate as much wealth as possible since when don’t have the luxury of paid vacation days.
As for applying for new licenses as mentioned above, there is not much way around this inconvenience. Each state is different, but there is almost always some guaranteed hassle involved. One positive in the process is that most, if not all, travel companies will reimburse for license expenses once you start a contract in the new state. For us in Massachusetts, that meant a $318 reimbursement from our travel company, so it was just the paperwork and time that we lost on filling it all out.
Even though finding new jobs so often can be a hassle, it is far surpassed by the benefits of increased pay, exploring the country, and adventure. We plan to continue along this path for at least another four years to see the country and get closer to financial independence. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!