Travel Physical Therapy Career Guide: Step 5 – Weighing your housing options

The next thing you are going to want to think about in planning your travel therapy assignment is your housing options.

First off you need to decide if you are even going to need housing. If you have decided that you are going to work an assignment that is within an hour of your home then you can opt to receive a housing stipend instead of worrying about setting up housing. But if you are going to need housing you basically have two options.

1. Have the travel therapy company find you your housing
or
2. Take a housing stipend and find your own housing

Having the travel therapy company find you your housing has its pros and cons, but most of the better companies will provide it for you if you want it. One of the main benefits of having the travel therapy company find it for you is that it becomes one less thing you have to worry about. They also have the expertise, time, knowledge of the area and established relationships that may allow them to get discounts you may not be able to get on your own, so they may be able to find you better accommodations than you could on your own.

But on the flipside there is an element of unknown when someone else chooses where you are going to live for the next 3-6 months. Here are some key questions you should ask regarding housing if you go with the company provided housing to avoid surprises.

Who pays for?

  • Rent
  • Moving Expenses
  • Utilities (check if there is a monthly allowance and which ones are covered by the company, including cable and internet)
  • Deposit (if there is one)

Will the housing be?

  • Close to my hospital (check on your own using Google Maps)
  • An extended stay, apartment, duplex or  house
  • Located in a safe location
  • Private
  • Furnished with basics like a bed, chair, microwave, television, TV stand, washer & dryer, etc. (find out what you will need to bring if anything)
  • Equipped with things like plates, utensils, pots and pans, towels, etc. (again find out what you will need to bring)
  • Big or small (ask about the square footage so you are not surprised when you get there)
  • Central Air 

Can I bring?

  • My Spouse/Significant Other or Roommate
  • Pet

When can I?

  • Move in
  • Move out

Now if you decide instead to take a housing stipend and set up your own housing or stay with family or friends who live near your travel therapy assignment, you will receive a monthly stipend to cover your costs so if you enjoy spartan living or already have housing with a family member or friend you can really use this as an opportunity to make some extra money. If you have to set up own travel therapy housing it will require some leg work and a fairly big time commitment to set it up. But here are some tips to help you get started:

1.  If it’s too good to be true then it probably is.  Stay away from renting from individual owners.  It’s a better idea to go with a property management company that has to follow HUD rules and regulations.  Our experience with individual owners has been that some, not all, like to keep money from deposits to continue work or updates on their rentals. 

2. Make sure you ask about fees and deposits.  Normally anything named a fee, like a Pet Fee, or Administration Fee are non refundable.  Deposits are usually fully refundable if there are no damages.  Some places charge deposits but then automatically take money from that deposit for the clean at move out.  Therefore if you ask up front you will know exactly what to expect at move out. 

3. Always get pictures if possible.  If you have pictures of your unit before you move in, then you can make sure to take pictures at move out.  Therefore you are not charged for any damages that aren’t yours. 

4. Double check your lease.  Even after discussing on the phone the rent, lease term and other items the lease could come back differently.  Look over dates, rent amount, fees, day that rent is due, notice to vacate, utilities or any items included in the rent, and who is responsible for maintenance, yard care, and snow removal.   Knowing all these things up front will save you a lot of time when something goes wrong.

5. There are a lot of rental websites out there.  A couple favorites are Apartments.com, Apartment Guide.com, Rent.com, ForRent.com, and MyNewPlace.com.  In smaller towns Google Map the town and then search for apartments.  In smaller towns you may also have to reference the paper and chamber of commerce.  Once finding an apartment you can look up furniture companies online at Yahoo Yellow Pages.  Enter furniture rental and these are one of your best resources as far as quality and location of the apartments you are looking in to.  They live there and deliver furniture to these places so don’t hesitate to ask their opinion.

More choices. Less hassle.

When you start looking for a travel therapy job one great place to start are job boards and application portals that let you apply to multiple travel rehab and therapy companies at once.

Job boards are excellent if you are looking for a specific job in an area. That way you can choose to work with travel therapy companies that have jobs that meet your criteria, without wasting time getting to know a company and recruiter only to find out that they don’t have a job you want. 

Meanwhile the application portal is a great option if you are just getting your feet wet in a travel therapy career and looking for a company for the first time. They are also a  good way to shop around for a new travel therapy company without having to visit a bunch of websites or call a bunch of companies. Why? Because when you put your resume or information on one of these boards the companies will call you. Trust me. So make sure to use an email address or phone number that you don’t mind being contacted at. i.e. not your work account or phone.

But if you do want to be more selective, some travel therapy application portals let you select which companies you want to work with. And also keep in mind that not every company is on every job board so if you rely on these solely to fine your next travel therapy company you may miss out on some really good companies too.

Some good job boards and application portals in the travel therapy industry are:

Rehab Options.com
AlliedVIP.com
AllTherapyJobs.com
ThirteenWeeks.com
AlliedTravelCareers.com
Physical-Therapy-Jobs.com
TravelRehab.com
AlliedTravelWeb.com
HealthcareTraveler.com

And just for good measure, here are some therapy jobs boards and application portals that are more broad and not focused solely on travel positions:

Therapyjobs.com
PTJobs.com
OTJobs.com
SLPJobs.com
JobsOt.com
AllHealthcareJobs.com
JobsinTherapy.com
MedicalWorkers.com

Travel Physical Therapy Career Guide: Step 4 – Know who’s going with you.

If you are planning on traveling far from home for your short-term therapy contract job, then a lot of decisions you will need to make in your travel rehab career will depend on who is coming with you if anyone. This is why it is important to evaluate if you are going to be traveling alone or with someone.

If you are planning on traveling far from home for your short-term therapy contract job, then a lot of decisions you will need to make in your travel rehab career will depend on who is coming with you if anyone. This is why it is important to evaluate if you are going to be traveling alone or with someone.

Is your spouse or significant other is coming with you? A lot of this depends on either the stage of life your spouse is in and/or their occupation. If they stay at home, are retired, have a seasonal job, like a teacher, or a mobile job like a freelance graphic designer, it is going to be easy for them to travel with you and can make your travel therapy job a lot more fun to take someone with you. And if it is your first travel therapy assignment it may be nice to have the comfort of a loved one with you as you get used to the change.

What about your kids? Obviously this depends a lot on your situation and their age since childcare and school is always a concern, but if your spouse or another family member is coming with you it is going to be easier to arrange for your kids to come with you, since they will probably be able to watch them and maybe even home school them. And if it your assignment is during the summer months then imagine the learning and fun opportunities waiting for them in a new town for three months.

Don’t forget about pets. Taking them along with you is also a great way to prevent getting lonely during a travel therapy assignment.

You can also try to travel with another travel therapist if you can both find assignments in the same hospital or skilled nursing facility or at least in the same city. This is a great option for first time travelers if it works out, since you can both help each other out with the new challenges that a travel therapy job can present, like being away from home and having to learn fast on the job.

Or you can go alone, which is the norm and offers so many advantages too, like the chance to do what you want to do in your free time, the chance to be by yourself and reflect and of course to take a “workation” and just get away from it all.

Travel Physical Therapy Career Guide: Step 2 – Know where you want to go.

The second thing you need to do in the process of starting your travel rehab and therapy career is determine where you want to work. Just as figuring out why you want to travel will play an important role in a lot of the future decisions you will make as a traveling therapist (regarding your career), so will where you want to go.

The second thing you need to do in the process of starting your travel rehab and therapy career is determine where you want to work. Just as figuring out why you want to travel will play an important role in a lot of the future decisions you will make as a traveling therapist (regarding your career), so will where you want to go.

Here are some basic questions you can ask yourself to help determine where you want to go:

  • Are you interested in travel for travel’s sake?
  • Are you looking to get back close to family or friends?
  • Are there certain facilities you want to work in?
  • Do you have a favorite sports team you want to work near so you can see all the home games?
  • Do you have a hobby that can only be done in a certain part of the country? Like lighthouse tours? Or mountain climbing?

Here are some good websites to help you out too:

The choices are limitless, there are open rehab and therapy jobs all across the country so take some time to evaluate where you are in regards to this step and keep an eye out for the next installment of “Your Travel Therapy Career Step-by-Step”, where we will look at how long you want to be a travel therapist.

Enjoy the drive to your travel therapy job!

A lot of travel therapists choose to stay close to home and take a local short-term contract instead of a more traditional travel therapy assignment in a new city, which lets them stay close to their friends and family. But for those that choose to take a 13 week travel therapy assignment in a new city the great the travel therapy road trip awaits them.

A road trip in the model of a college road trip to your travel therapy job is probably not a good idea, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be one of the best parts of your assignment. With a little time and planning your road trip can be full of adventure, stories and cheesy tourist traps.

Here are two road trip resources we have found for you to plan your trip.

Road Trip America.com, which offers tools like:

  • A Fuel Cost Calculator
  • The Great American Road Trip Forum
  • Routes, Destinations, Events & Road Food Articles
  • Equipment, Driving & Preparation Tips
  • Book & Map Recommendations and Audio Book Reviews
  • Links to the Best Web Resources
  • Tips for Renting an RV & Planning an RV Vacation
  • Point, Click and Drive! – A collection of web based automated road trip planning programs
  • And, Caution: Funny Signs Ahead

And RoadTripPlanning.com that provides:

  • Articles
  • Car camping
  • Gear
  • Games
  • Road trip planner
  • Driving directions

So don’t miss out on one of the best parts of a travel therapy assignment, take the time to have an awesome road trip.