The Long List of Travel Therapist Tips – Part One

From witty to wise, Cariant travelers share their best advice.

1. “Ask questions! As a traveler you are at an advantage because the client needs your help, but at a disadvantage because you usually only have a single phone screen to base your decision upon. So, ask whatever questions you want, including those about billing, scheduling and productivity. Raise any concerns you have during the phone screen. It has been my experience that most places will respond favorably to these types of pointed questions as they indicate your knowledge of appropriate billing practices and your desire to make sure you are clear on their expectations.” – Mindy O., PT

2. “Wherever you go… explore! It’s amazing the things you will see in the least expected areas. Many locals don’t even know where to go in their own area. Research online or go on a road trip to find what may interest you.” – Reina N., SLP

3. “As a traveler, I prefer to be slightly distant when I begin a new assignment in order to understand the relationship between the various therapists, as well as their relationships to others in the facility. The director may not be the one in charge.” – June S., SLP

4. “Long distance friends. Call them.” – Kara S., PTA

5. “Be as flexible as Gumby!” – Kari L., PT

6. “As simple an object as it is… I recommend bringing a candle you are used to burning at home. Smell is the most powerful sense related to memory, and it keeps home close no matter how far away you travel.” – Victor U., PT

7. “Find new places to explore every weekend, and you won’t be lonely or bored!” – Valerie G., COTA

8. “The best traveling tip that I have is to take about a quarter of what you want to take, or you think you want to take, when you pack for an assignment.” – Brady H., PT

9. “Build relationships with co-workers ASAP – you never know when you’ll need someone if you are traveling alone.” – Brienna F., PT

10. “Wherever you go and whatever setting you are in, you can always make a difference! Don’t settle for anything less than what you expect as a clinician just because you are not a permanent employee.” – Derek S., PT


11. “Never rule anything out. I ended up in a state I had no interest in coming to for my first assignment, and had a fantastic experience — a great clinic and excellent staff who were just as eager to learn from me as I was to learn from them. As a result I’ve made some friends for life.” – James M., PT

12. “Find a good church home where you are traveling… it helps to gather with people of the same faith to pray and praise together to revitalize you when it gets tough.” – Jerri A., OT

13. “National Public Radio: Every long distance driver’s friend.” – Kara S., PTA

14. “Don’t get stressed about the little details before moving to a new assignment. Everything will work out just fine. And if not, you have a great team of recruiters and staff at Cariant to help in any way possible to allow you to make the most of your experience.” – Matt W., PT

15. “If possible, take time between your assignments to enjoy the trip. I call what I do a working vacation. Remember why you travel!” – Reina N., SLP

16. “Pack light, essentials only. That’s usually all you’ll ever need and you won’t have to manage ‘stuff’ while on assignment.” – Terri C., COTA

17. “Bring your bike. You may be lucky enough to bike to work.” – Valerie G., COTA

18. “Introverts: enjoy the time, bring books or video games, go running, etc. Extroverts: no idea. How do you find crowded places relaxing?” – Kara S., PTA

19. “Many of the elderly have favorite foods not usually served in the facility. I try to take their favorite snack to them as part of the therapy session, even if they are not on swallowing therapy. Makes them feel more welcomed and the sessions are more productive.” – June S., SLP

20. “Throw yourself into the culture of your current home and get involved.” – Kari L., PT

get involved

21. “Trust your gut. Sometimes it’s hard not to let a particular location, pay rate, or setting influence your decision. However, don’t abandon your gut. Most assignments are good places just needing some help, but unfortunately, there are still assignments out there that have unreasonable expectations or will ask you to treat with questionable ethics. If they won’t answer specific questions, or their answers/information sounds questionable to you, trust your instincts! Remember, it is your license on the line if there is a problem and Cariant will respect your decision whether or not to take an assignment.” – Mindy O., PT

22. “Always think about and plan ahead for car maintenance, so you can continue to have a reliable car.” – Valerie G., COTA

23. “Be flexible.” – Brienna F., PT

24. “Stay organized and look ahead, not just day-to-day. Keep the big picture in mind – GPS set for next day’s destination, know what progress notes are due and keep at them daily so they don’t back up for Friday.” – Cynthia F., COTA

25. “Use an RV so you don’t have to pack and unpack. Plus, you get an outdoor sitting area.” – Janie S., PTA

26. “Try to take time out to locate and visit your next location prior to your start date. It helps to decrease the initial shock of a new facility… and from getting lost!” – Jerri A., OT

27. “Make copies of all required documents and keep some in your car just in case.” – Joseph R., COTA

28. “Save the phone numbers for all relevant state offices of professions on your phone.” – Kara S., PTA

29. “Okay, here is the KING of traveling tips. Use bake-wear for dishes. My plate is a 9-inch pie dish. It is thick, won’t break as easily as china, can handle breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can bake a pie in it to bring to work, you can freeze food in it, and you can heat your food up in the oven with it! And it takes up the same amount of space as your typical plain old, easily breakable, can only handle breakfast-lunch-dinner-type plate. I also use Pyrex bowls in case I feel like baking chili, freezing the leftovers, or feel like a simple bowl of cereal. Bake-wear is the future of kitchen efficiency. For travelers at least.” – Victor U., PT

30. “When lonely, make someone a mix CD or care package. Eventually the karmic wheel will send you one back, and in the meantime, it is fun to make things for people.” – Kara S., PTA

31. “Be open-minded.” – Brienna F., PT

32. “Every place has beauty. Find it and enjoy it!” – Kari L., PT


33. “Besides the obvious big ticket items (bikes and your car) you should try to find a place with everything else already there. You won’t wear anything but work clothes and weekend clothes, so no need for a full closet (My wife, Hannah, has yet to totally grasp this). Plus, you always want to have room for the fun stuff that you add along the way.” – Brady H., PT

34. “Make sure you give someone you trust a spare key in case you need someone to access your home while you are away.” – Jerri A., OT

35. “Make plans ahead of time. Research nearby towns and or ask coworkers what they like to do in town. What local people know is often better than online recommendations.” – Joseph R., COTA

36. “Take a small dog with you if possible. Snuggle regularly.” – Kara S., PTA

37. “When I decided I wanted to travel as a Speech Therapist, I knew I would need to have a hobby for times when we were places where there isn’t a whole lot to do. That doesn’t happen often. But, having a hobby has come in handy. Homemade gifts, learning new things, etc. We bought a motorcycle, play golf, make all my own lotions, balms, crochet, etc.” – Reina N., SLP

38. “Travel with an open mind and make the most of your experience by trying to do or see something new in the area you are working every week.” – Matt W., PT

39. “Make each assignment special by trying something new or local/regional. Whether it is learning a new sport, visiting a local attraction or going quail flushing! The memory makes the assignment richer.” – Mindy O., PT

40. “Keep in touch with those you’ve met along the way as they will continue to enrich your life!” – Kari L., PT


Our travelers had a lot of advice, so be on the lookout next week for a second list of traveler tips!