Timeline: February-May 2019
Previous post on our travel assignment timeline:
Background: Our Travel PT Careers
So for those that may be unfamiliar, I want to give a little background on our Travel Physical Therapy career paths thus far. We started our PT careers immediately after graduation as Traveling PTs in May 2015. Since then, we have continued to work as travelers for the past 4 years and have never had permanent PT jobs. For our first 3 years as Travel PTs, we worked continuously, back to back to back contracts. We would generally finish a contract on a Friday, and start a new contract on Monday, with a couple weeks off here and there for holidays and trips. We did it this way in order to be able to significantly increase our earning, saving, and investing potential early in our careers.
After working continuously for 3 years, saving up and investing heavily, we decided to “Semi-Retire” and start taking 6+ months off per year to travel for leisure both domestically and internationally. We wanted to take advantage of the flexibility in our career choice to be able to travel, do and see as much as possible before “settling down” and starting a family.
So, after we finished our contracts in Eastern NC in July 2018, we took off around the world for 5 months. We then ended up spending about 2 more months off at home in Roanoke, Virginia before beginning our next Travel PT contracts in February 2019. Because we enjoyed our time abroad and our part-time work lifestyle so much, we had already begun planning our next international trip for May 2019, leaving just enough time for one Travel PT contract at the beginning of 2019!
In this article I’ll review our time spent in Fredericksburg, VA for work, what we did on the weekends, and where we headed next!
Finding Our Next Physical Therapy Contracts
When we initially laid out our plans, we thought we would probably have our next contracts lined up before or right after returning from our 2018 trip abroad. We planned to start back to work at the beginning of January 2019. We had gotten licensed in Arizona the year before and had not yet had the opportunity to work there, so we thought AZ in January would be a great choice! Unfortunately, we found out that a lot of other people thought this too!
We were not having any luck finding jobs in Arizona that suited us for January starts, so we kept waiting and waiting and waiting. We thought we could maybe push our start dates back to the beginning of February, which would really be cutting it close as our next international trip approached in May. But as February drew nearer, we realized we may have to give up on Arizona and look into other options. We were still licensed in our home state of Virginia, as well as in North Carolina where we had worked several times before. So although we wanted to head out West, we decided we might have to stick closer to home again, which honestly wouldn’t be such a bad thing considering we just spent 5 months out of the country! (And, already had our next international trip in the works!)
We really prefer working in outpatient clinics, so we were waiting for the right outpatient jobs to come along in either Virginia or North Carolina. As is sometimes the case as a traveling pair, finding two perfect jobs together can be a challenge. So, we were at the point where we were considering me just taking a contract this time, and Jared not working. We’ve never done this in the past, but with Jared being in a very stable financial situation, it would’ve been a viable option. So when we finally found a great outpatient job opportunity for me, and there was a potential job option for Jared in the area, we decided to jump on it. I committed to take the job in Fredericksburg, VA, just 3 hours from our hometown, and we went ahead and set up housing and moved there. Meanwhile, we were still waiting to find out if Jared would be working or not.
As it turned out, Jared did end up working. I started my job first and was set for a 12 week contract at one outpatient facility in Fredericksburg. The same company I was working for needed some additional help at a couple of their other clinics, so they arranged for Jared to do a shorter 10 week contract, floating between two buildings, one in Fredericksburg and one in Dumfries (closer to Washington DC).
Jared had a pretty cool schedule, working only 4 days a week with Friday’s off, which he really enjoyed. However, his clinics were quite a bit busier than mine, and he had to commute a longer distance 2 days/wk, as well as constantly switch back and forth between clinics. So he definitely faced more challenges during his contract than I did during mine.
I was at the same clinic all the time, which was a quick 10 minute commute from where we were staying. It was a great clinic, and I really got along well with all the staff there. I had a very reasonable schedule, seeing an average of 10-12 (+/-) patients per day, and had the assistance of PT techs which is always nice.
Overall, we both enjoyed getting back to working. We definitely had to dust off the ole PT skills a little after our 7 month hiatus from work. But we both found that we enjoyed work more and were generally less stressed this contract, especially since we had the leisure of having just taken 7 months off, and the knowledge that we were about to take several more months off after this contract. (Tough life, right?)
Where We Lived
Finding housing is always a big challenge that travel therapists face. Generally, we have had a fairly easy time with our housing because we lived in an RV for the majority of our time as traveling therapists. We had taken our RV in for repairs prior to leaving the country in July 2018, and it was still in storage at this time. We had planned to pick it up and live in it for these contracts. However, there was only one good RV park option near Fredericksburg, and they were charging an arm and a leg for monthly RV site rental (over $1000/mo)! So at the last minute, we actually found a much better housing option via Craigslist. It was a lovely basement apartment rental, fully furnished with all utilities included, for $895/month! We thought: less money, and we don’t have to live in a 200sqft camper, especially at the tail end of Winter?! Sign us up! 😉
It ended up being a great housing situation for us. The hosts were great people, and we enjoyed getting to know them. They were a married couple whose kids were grown and out of the house, and they had a sweet dog who we loved. We did have to enter through the main part of the house to get to the basement, but this really was not a problem for us. We hardly ever had to interact with the hosts unless we wanted to, and we never got in each other’s way. We only had to use the laundry in the main part of the house once per week, which was a great time to say hi to our hosts and play with the dog. They were very accommodating with everything, including our desired start and end dates, and their house was in a great location! Overall we couldn’t have asked for a better housing set up for this contract!
Outside of Work
So, as if we hadn’t already had enough vacation, before starting these contracts we had already committed to going on a trip to the Dominican Republic. This was a free trip that we earned, hosted by one of the travel therapy companies we work with. We knew about this well in advance, and had planned to work our contract dates around this. What we didn’t know is that we wouldn’t be starting work until mid February, so the trip in March was basically in our first couple weeks at our contracts!
Nevertheless, after being in the cold of Virginia for 2 months, we welcomed this Caribbean getaway with open arms. We were in the DR for about 5 days, where we got to enjoy a beautiful all-inclusive resort and meet lots of fellow travel therapists and nurses!
Back to somewhat normal life in Virginia after the DR, we spent our weekends outside of work exploring the Fredericksburg area, as well as catching up with our friends in Virginia and North Carolina, some of whom we hadn’t seen in several months to years!
Despite Fredericksburg being only about 3 hours from home for us, we had never been there. We found it was really quite a nice area. We spent several weekends hiking/walking on local trails, including some near the local rivers and historic Civil War Battlefields. We also tried out some local restaurants, breweries, and wineries.
I got to see some friends from Undergrad and PT school on several occasions in the DC area, which was less than an hour from us. I took a weekend trip to see some other friends from PT school in the same town as our alma mater, Norfolk VA. And Jared and I also took a weekend trip down to Eastern NC to see our friends who we’d grown close to during our two different Travel PT contracts there. Although travel therapy is sometimes about enjoying new areas, it’s also nice to be able to catch up with old friends who live within driving distance to where you are.
Also during this contract, we spent some time trying to get back into somewhat of a routine with diet and exercise, albeit only for 12 weeks. We definitely gained weight on our 5 months out of the country, so it was nice to be back in the gym for a couple months, and back to cooking our own meals most of the time.
Outside of our primary jobs as PT’s during this contract, we were working a lot on our new website Travel Therapy Mentor, as well as a little on this blog as usual. The new site really started to pick up during this time, just about 6 months since its inception. We found it was involving so much work that it actually felt almost like a second full time job outside of our normal jobs! We thought to ourselves, soon we’re not going to have time to work as PT’s, and blogging will be our primary profession, ha!
Lastly, during this time we were also working some on planning our next trip as I mentioned, this time to Europe. We got a lot of it planned during our 2 months at home between Christmas and starting back to work, but still had quite a bit to plan leading up to leaving in May. Since we got started working later than anticipated, our contract end date pushed right up til the week before we would be leaving! It was definitely a busy and exciting time!
Moving on to Our Next Adventure
Travel PT contracts tend to go by pretty quickly, but this one really flew by! Not only was it a shorter contract than the standard 13 weeks, but we also had the Dominican Republic trip squeezed in there, and lots of other weekend adventures. It seemed like no time had passed when our contract end dates finally rolled around.
It’s always bittersweet leaving a contract. We’re usually ready to head on to the next adventure, but are always a little sad to leave behind our patients and coworkers we’ve spent the last several months getting to know.
But, nevertheless, we packed up and headed back home for a week before leaving for our big European Adventure!
Stay tuned for our many posts from our trip to Europe! And for our future Travel PT contracts after this one – to be determined!