Becoming a traveling medical professional means investing your time and energy into what you love and what helps you be your happiest, most productive self. If you’re stepping into this career, you want to do it for the right reasons.
Becoming A Medical Traveler For The Right Reasons
The Challenge: There’s a difference between travel and vacation
Traveling and vacation. We like to link these two words together often, especially when being a traveler is your job. I mean, hey, who wouldn’t want “professional vacationer” as part of their resume? It all sounds like a magical dream life, and sometimes it can be. However, it’s also important to draw distinctions between vacationing and traveling.
Now, hold your horses… there’s nothing wrong with taking a vacation. A nice break to relax and dip your toes in some beachy water, earbuds in, with the perfect vacay playlist tuned up… sounds pretty great.
But, let’s pause. A vacation is not a cultural experience, really. It’s not your chance to grow or flourish as the amazing person you are; it’s your moment to #selfcare and sip a beverage. They seem similar, right? Here, let me break it down a little more…
You can see the subtle differences in these two terms. The good news is, the lines can blur together. Travel and vacation are closely linked when you’re a traveler. It’s your job to already be at your destination. And while maybe you aren’t spending nearly all your time in chill out autopilot mode, or being the travel foodie you aspire to be, you get to work where you explore.
Writer and adventurer, Dave Booda, describes the difference:
Vacations are about escaping.
Traveling is about diving in.
A true travel experience is about learning and transforming yourself. Vacation is about allowing yourself the R&R to grow when you’re traveling (yes, here we go with that self-care line again.)
But travel? Travel is an adventure. So… dive in.
Traveling means empowering your self-care
Traveling can be a bit of a life juggle. We have all the good intentions of following a 6-step skincare plan, working out, or taking our morning vitamins… but the truth is, once we’re taken out of our element and daily routine, all bets are off.
Our brains have a hard time associating a new environment with an old routine. Hence why vitamins stay in their bottles, moisturizers sit idle your travel bag, and stick to a healthy food intake is almost nonexistent. (It’s time to be thankful for takeout.) In fact, besides walking the half mile to get a delicious dark roast coffee, or pacing the halls on your assignment, you might not get around to exercising either.
And who could blame you? Even with planned breaks and a pretty stable new routine, this isn’t typically how your day goes. Plus, the time zone changes can throw you off for a bit. A 2-hour time difference means your 12:30 p.m. lunch was actually 2:30 p.m. back home. A new routine created for the greater good, however well-intended, can throw off your personal one. Your brain doesn't understand that everyone else is doing the same thing too, it just wants to know why you're having a snack at what is actually 5 p.m., and then falling into your pillow at 8:30 p.m. Which is why self-care is so important when you're a traveler. How do you get your groove back?
Avoiding the pitfalls
We talk about the benefits of being a traveling medical professional all the time, but we don’t spend nearly enough time sifting through the stuff that isn’t always sunshine and roses. So, what are some of those downfalls, and how can you avoid them?
Whether it’s the stress of the job or the stress of packing up that suitcase all the time, hittin’ the road can really hit you back. It's okay to take a break. You don't always have to be on-the-go. Traveling and self care go hand-in-hand, and taking a break between travel assignments (or a vacation!) could give you the energy to jump back in the game.
While it’s totally normal to experience all the tourism of your new city, you don’t want to ride that Ferris wheel too many times, do you? So what do you do when you run out of tourist places to explore? Go local, of course! After all, you live here now. Eat where the locals eat, hang out where the locals hang out and welcome yourself to your new city.
Your housing not what you thought it would be? This new city isn’t what you envisioned? Everyone’s been there. The point isn’t to lower your expectations (why would you do that?!); it’s to go into your travel experience with an open mind. Maybe you have a smaller living space, but you’re going to be out doing cool stuff anyway, so you don’t need it. The cool store you wanted to check out actually closed a few months ago? No worries! Cities are ever-changing and I’m sure your next exploration is literally right around the corner.
Happy travelers are the ones who have chosen their career path and put themselves first. When you decide where, when, and how you do your job, you get to create the travel lifestyle you want, explore how you want to explore, and put your expectations first.