Why I passed up a promotion and substantial raise to start traveling

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On a morning just like any other, the owner of the clinic where I worked brought me into the office and had me sit down then unexpectedly offered me a promotion. I didn’t expect him to offer me a promotion and certainly didn’t expect a substantial raise of 10K effective immediately. You’re probably thinking, uh, no brainer, take it. Well there were many factors leading to my hesitation to accept, but at the center was my desire and preparation to begin travel physical therapy in the coming months. About a year and a half later, I haven’t looked back and thought “what if?” once.

Many people face the question of when to begin traveling. Some advocate traveling as a new grad while others suggest gaining experience first. Each of these have their benefits and drawbacks as I’m sure you’ve been reading in a travel group on Facebook or in a blog post made by another traveler or in speaking with a traveler. In my journey, I was interested in traveling before I even applied to PT school, then before and after graduation, and again before leaving my first PT job.

I elected to take permanent jobs for the first couple years out of school, but not in a traditional sense. My first job was across the country in an area where I didn’t have any roots and had only been to visit once. My second job was yet again across the country in the opposite direction; however, this time I went back to work in the area where I had attended PT school. In both cases, I was relatively on my own to build roots in a different area where I knew few people.

My first job was in a small clinic about an hour southeast of Seattle, WA. I asked a lot of questions as a new grad interviewing for jobs in various parts of the country including: Colorado Springs, Seattle, South Florida, and Maryland; however, I must admit I had no idea what I was doing or where I’d go. I made the decision to go back to the NW and live on the west coast after having been there once to complete a clinical outside of Seattle while I was still in school. It was a great experience, but the already large company was purchased by an even larger company and many changes were coming. At the same time, I was increasingly missing Florida, where I attended school, so I accepted a job and returned to Florida.

In Florida, I worked for a small company with a focus on one-on-one treatment. The company had many experienced clinicians who ended up leaving the company in the several months after I started and many changes occurred. During this time, I ended up roommates with one of my former classmates in PT school. We ended up in a relationship and began reviving each other’s interest and passion for traveling. We purchased an RV several months later and began traveling a few months after that.

Many things came up during the time we were preparing to begin traveling including the discussion I alluded to at the beginning of the post in which I was offered a substantial raise and promotion. In both of my first jobs, an offer to become either a clinic director or lead therapist were on the table. I turned down the first opportunity because I wanted to move back to Florida; I turned down the second opportunity because I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to begin traveling with the woman who would become my wife. In addition, I wanted to enjoy the multiple benefits that travel work has to offer. To name a few that were on my mind at the time:

  1. I wanted to save more money. You’ll get a million different answers from travelers on why they choose to travel versus working permanent jobs. As someone who’s worked both permanent and travel, I can attest to the significant difference in pay. Just consider making at least $1,600 a week (and this is a low number compared to what you can make) after taxes and insurance traveling versus $1,900-2,100 biweekly after taxes and insurance. That’s $1,200 extra you can make every two weeks. These are just ballpark numbers based on my experience, but nonetheless you get the idea. This has allowed my wife and I to maximize our savings, pay off debt, and meet financial goals as we prepare for the future
  2. I wanted to travel and see the country. I’ve been able to go to 46/50 states in the US through my time traveling between clinical rotations, working “shorter-term” perm positions, and as a travel therapist. My wife and I have traveled throughout the Southeast, Southern US, and all over the west coast during our time working as travel therapists.
  3. I wanted more time off for vacation. In travel work, you’ll be able to plan your time off in order to take vacations without worrying about finding coverage over holidays and worrying if another therapist already requested off. We’ve had off over holidays and have been able to structure our assignments to either allow us time around holidays to see our families or take vacations. We’ve planned contract dates to allow us a few weeks in between assignments in order to maximize our ability to take vacations.
  4. I wanted to work short term contracts for companies instead of being “locked in” somewhere for a longer term commitment. We control how long we work for companies rather than just toughing it out for prolonged periods as we would if we were in permanent positions. We get to work for a variety of companies, clinics, and supervisors while also meeting various clinicians within different disciplines and from different backgrounds. This has helped us to learn new skills, meet new people, and become familiar with different areas. It would be a lie to say you will love every company or clinic you work for, but with travel, you can always see the end of the tunnel.

In summary, we’ve been able to maximize our savings and meet financial goals by paying off bills that would have taken us much long to pay off while working permanent positions. I’m sure you’ve heard of the pros and cons of travel healthcare work, but the truth is the list of benefits I mentioned above are short compared to everything travel healthcare work has to offer. As with anything, there are pro’s and con’s and there are certainly cons and deterrents to working as a traveling healthcare contractor, but for my wife and I, the payoff has far outweighed the cost thus far.

4 Comments on “Why I passed up a promotion and substantial raise to start traveling

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