One of the scariest parts of becoming a travel therapist is facing the potential of moving to a completely new city where you don’t know anyone. And while I think that solo travel is an important milestone that everyone should experience at some point in their lives, travel therapy doesn’t have to be an endeavor that you take on alone. It’s totally possible to do travel therapy with a significant other, friend, or family member – it just takes some creativity and flexibility!
Here are six options to consider:
Option 1: Your partner is also a medical professional
This is definitely the “easiest” option and the one I see most commonly. Obviously, if your partner is also a therapist this process is fairly simple – you might even be able to work for the same facility!
But therapy isn’t the only profession that requires travelers – if your partner is a nurse, physician, or medical technician they may be able to find a travel contract too!
I have even seen travel positions for CNAs, so if your partner has already been thinking about transitioning to the medical field this could be a good and quick way to try it out.
I have also known couples who start traveling and enjoy it so much that the other member starts therapy school too, which is becoming more and more possible to do online.
Option 2: Your partner has a remote job
This is the situation that made it easier for my partner and I to start traveling. He was already working 100% from home, so why not travel? You’ll want to be sure you account for this when choosing your housing (we didn’t notice the first place we rented didn’t have an internet connection until a few days before moving there – ahh!) but overall this is a pretty smooth way to make travel work as a couple.
This is also an area worth exploring even if your partner doesn’t yet have a remote job – does anything about their current job require going into an office? While I was completing my Level II fieldwork, my boyfriend at the time had an in-person programming job. However, his employer allowed him to work from “home” so that he could come stay with me for a month.
It’s always worth asking to see what is possible. If my partner didn’t have his remote job, I’m not sure when we would’ve ever taken the plunge to travel. And while he has since moved on to other employment, a portion of our income still comes from freelancing online.
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Option 3: Your partner finds temporary employment in your contract locations
It may seem scary for your partner to move to a new area with no job prospects lined up. But if your partner can find a way to leverage their skills, they have a pretty good chance of finding employment anywhere.
For example, my partner has a B.S. in Mathematics and experience teaching. So when I started working for a school district, it was only natural that he started substituting there. It was honestly a pretty fun experience being coworkers. And since we downsized to one car before we started our travel journey, it was ultra convenient.
Even if your partner doesn’t want to teach, there are many other areas where temp positions can be found such as manual labor, clerical work, babysitting, retail around the holidays, or seasonal positions in tourist towns.
Sign up with a temp agency, check Craigslist, or do the old-fashioned thing and walk around looking for help wanted signs.
Option 4: Your partner joins the gig economy
I’m sure you’ve already been inundated with ads for driving for Uber or Lyft, so I’ll spare you the hard sell. But for what these services lack in stability and permanence, they can be a great fit for the flexibility of only being in an area for 13 weeks.
Option 5: Your Partner Manages the Household
I’m going to be honest: if you can swing this option, at least some of the time, it’s awesome. Since my partner has mostly been substitute teaching, there are some days where he doesn’t go into work, either by choice or chance. On those days, his only responsibilities are running errands, keeping the house clean, and cooking meals.
When you’re working hard at your contract job, it can really reduce a lot of your stressors to know that the cooking and cleaning is already handled for the day. I have also known couples to use this setup to make traveling with children feasible – one partner works while the other one takes care of the kids or even homeschools.
Option 6: Your Partner Stays at Home
This is a potentially less “fun” option, but I have seen it work for some people, especially if the therapist doesn’t travel year round. If you have the option to keep employment at home, whether through PRN jobs or otherwise, you can always take 1-2 travel contracts a year while your partner continues to live at home and keep their permanent employment.
It may seem sad and scary, but 13 weeks goes by more quickly than you’d think and even one contract can be a really helpful burst in income.
It was a little terrifying to begin the process of travel therapy with my partner – what if we were disrupting both of our lives for something that we didn’t end up enjoying? But in the end, I’m so glad that we did.
The truth is that over the course of traveling, we’ve implemented and considered many of these options. My income as a travel occupational therapist is so much higher than it was as a permanent employee that it allows us some room for flexibility and experimentation.
And I recognize that I’m lucky to have a partner that was willing to give up a typical life – if your partner heavily values moving up their career ladder, traveling together will definitely be more challenging. But if you both want to have the adventure of your lives, the travel therapy world is ready for you.