Think about your best friend(s) in the whole entire world. For me, it’s my two BFFs that I’ve known since kindergarten. Okay, now think about all the things you and your besties like to do together! Game days, party nights, movie marathons, dinner dates, brewery hopping, and everything in between. Best friends really are the best.
Tips and Tricks for Traveling in a Group
Now imagine that you could travel the country, work your medical magic, and do so alongside your besties. That’s the life right there. And it can be yours! All you have to do is become a professional med traveler.
Which, if you’re reading this, that means you already have the skills it takes! So, corral your BFFs, pack your bags, and get ready to hit the road for an adventure of a lifetime with some of your favorite people! But before you go, check out these hot travel tips, tricks, and hacks from professional group traveler, Gabby.
IRL benefits of BFFs
It’s hard to imagine a life without best friends. Best friends are the family we get to choose. They’re the peanut to your butter, the mac to your cheese, the frosting on your cake, and all similar metaphors. I mean, who else would save you from the deathly grasp of Devil’s Snare? Having a Harry Potter BFF trio like Ron, Hermione, and Harry is ideal when navigating the different facets of medical traveling.
Recent research shows that friendships can help us find purpose and meaning in our lives, stay healthy, and even live longer. And even more research shows that close relationships result in lifelong physical and mental health benefits like increased happiness.
“A connection of this kind is the best antidepressant you can get,” said Robin Dunbar, emeritus professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University.
You know that elated high you feel when you hang out with your BFFs? That’s your brain rewarding you for building connections. Literally. It’s science. According to the brain opioid theory of social attachment, social interactions activate positive emotions when the endorphins bind to opioid receptors in the brain. In other words, when we see our friends, our brain gets happy and releases feel-good hormones, aka endorphins. So that explains the warm and fuzzies. It’s true, people need people.
Q&A with group traveler, Gabby, OT
Oh, hey there, Gabby!
For years, Gabby, OT, has been traveling professionally, doing her part to help people regain their strength for everyday activities. Easier said than done, right? Lucky for her, Gabby has her two fellow med traveler besties with her on the road to keep her company, boost her motivation, and go on adventures. Here’s what it’s like to be part of a travel trio:
Megan Bebout: Thanks for joining us and allowing us to share more about your travel trio. To get started, can you share how long you’ve been an OT?
Gabby Syrop: Hi Megan! Yes, it’s so fun to get to be a part of this! So, I have been in occupational therapy (OT) for three years now. I always knew that I would want to go into healthcare but thought for sure I would be a nurse or doctor. When I was in high school, I started volunteering at a local hospital in hopes of getting more exposure to the field. Before my volunteer shift one day, I was sitting in the lobby waiting for my partner to arrive and picked up a book off the shelf. In the first chapter of that book, I learned what occupational therapy was and I decided then and there at 16 years old that I was going to be an OT. Eleven years later, I’m so glad I picked up that book.
MB: What a journey! I love that you have no regrets, that’s how you know you’re doing what you’re meant to do! What makes OT special to you?
GS: Oh, man. The many options within OT is what makes it such a great career choice. In the last three years as an OT, I have worked in three different settings. I’ve loved ALL of my experiences! It has helped me to avoid burnout or boredom. It’s important to remember that the skills you learn in one setting are going to help you in the next. I never would’ve imagined my custom splinting skills that I learned working as a hand therapist would be put to use in a hospital, yet on my most recent contract, I have made custom splints for patients in emergency rooms (ERs) and intensive care units (ICUs).
MB: Sounds like OT is a great way to collect skills and knowledge. What’s the best way to get into an OT career?
GS: The best way to get into an OT career is to start exposing yourself to the different settings of occupational therapy. Whether this be volunteering in a hospital or school, just get out there and start experiencing what it’s like. Not to speak for all OTs, but a lot of us are very passionate about what we do. Ask questions and get ready for an earful because we are ready to talk about how rewarding an OT career is. Once you get your degree, use your connections—your university, fieldwork supervisors, and recruiters! There is a whole network out there of people who want to help you find your dream job.
MB: Yeah there, are, like us! What inspired you to take your OT career on the road and start traveling?
GS: I grew up in a small town in a small state. Then, I went to college in a different small town in the same small state. Next, I took a job in a slightly bigger town in the same small state. Once I had some experience under my belt, I knew it was time to start traveling, but the pandemic hit. I had to stay where I was and help my home get through the pandemic from my place in the healthcare system. While we are not completely on the other side of it, things calmed down enough where I felt okay leaving and living out my dream of being a traveling OT. Best decision EVER!
MB: That’s so cool! I think it can be tough to venture out of your hometown. Heck, I’m still in mine! Do you have any travel hacks or valuable things you’ve learned about traveling throughout your career?
GS: I don’t know if it’s a hack, but I would say start applying for licenses in any state you might want to work in. The licensing process is definitely the most challenging aspect of being a traveler. If you think you have a long road of traveling ahead of you or if you even have two or three states in mind that you would like to travel to, start working on those licenses in the beginning. It will save you lots of stress and give you more freedom to choose. Also, turn to your fellow travelers when you need help! There are tons of helpful resources such as blogs and Facebook pages and websites that connect travelers. We’re all here to help each other.
MB: Love that! Okay, so now the juicy stuff: What’s it like traveling the country with two of your friends?
GS: Traveling in a trio is something we had to work really hard for. I connected with a Fusion recruiter right at the beginning and explained to her that the three of us were trying to stay together. She was willing to take on the challenge (shout out to MacKenzie, you’re the best!).
We’ve all worked with the same Fusion recruiter for our three contracts. We had to be really flexible from the start. We took here guidance on what states had the most job postings and we were not picky on settings. We didn’t all have guaranteed full-time jobs on our first contract or have the same shifts. We each have our own cars now but we originally drove cross-country in one car and had the other two shipped to our final destination. It was pricy but worth it to be able to road trip together.
Finding housing is definitely a little crazy, considering we usually have no more than three weeks’ notice on where exactly we will be moving. We use all of the various online resources, including realtor websites, Facebook groups, and travel blogs to find our best options. On our most recent contract, we were actually able to rent an apartment and rent furniture, which was a cool option!
MB: That makes a lot of sense. Also, I had no idea that shipping a vehicle was a thing—how neat! What are the perks of traveling in a group?
GS: One of the best perks of traveling in a trio has been taking time together in-between contracts. We had the opportunity to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from contract no. 1 to contract no. 2. We’re planning to spend some time in the national parks as we drive from contract no. 3 to (hopefully) contract no. 4.
Of course, another perk is knowing that you’re never alone. I have been so incredibly fortunate to travel with my two best friends. We may have left the East Coast without a license or contract or a place to live, but it didn’t matter because we knew whatever happened, we’d be together.
MB: You’re making me want to plan a trip with my two girlfriends! What are challenges of traveling in a trio?
GS: The biggest challenge is definitely finding three contracts that are within a drivable distance to each other with a reasonable place to live between. We each have our own cars, which is helpful, so we can split up in three different directions every day, if needed. Fortunately, on all three contracts, at least two of us have been at the same location and able to carpool for longer drives.
The best tip I can give to anybody traveling, not just in a trio, but also as partners, is to be flexible! The idea is to travel the country doing what you love with the people you love. Being in the biggest cities or at the nicest beaches does not matter as much when you’re living your life with the people and doing the profession you love.
MB: Okay, last q: What advice would you offer other med travelers who want to travel together?
GS: Do it! Or at least give it a try! Having someone to adventure with has made me so much more outgoing. I feel like I’m willing to try scary things or go places that I wouldn’t have gone on my own because I have my two best friends with me. Be kind to your recruiter because it’s a heavy task at hand. Be honest with yourself, your travel partners, and your recruiter about what you’re looking for in an assignment. It’s much easier to find something when you know what you’re looking for. On the other hand, be open to opportunity! Something might come up in a setting that you have not worked in or a location you wouldn’t have considered prior, but speaking from my own experience, you might find your future there!
MB: Thank you so much, Gabby!
Life as a professional med traveler takes you on journeys of a lifetime. And sometimes even with your best friends, like Gabby! Interested in getting started in med travel? Gain experience in your field and get started as a traveler with Fusion Medical Staffing! Your adventure is calling.