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travel therapy

By: Katie Baumgartel from @katie_baum

You may have heard the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” You may also be familiar with the saying “life is made of moments.” I like to say, “Create an adventure every day.” Easy to say as a travel speech-language pathologist living in a new city every 3-6 months. Yes and no.

I began traveling in 2016, after exactly two years at my first full-time job. I boarded a plane with a signed contract in San Diego and three (overweight) suitcases, leaving my sleepy little Connecticut beach town behind. I was filled with adrenaline and determination. And I was completely alone. The funny thing is, no matter where I am in the country, I’m never really alone. Week 1 in San Diego, I was invited to play on a softball team with a sorority sister’s cousin. With butterflies in my stomach, I said yes and made my first friends (and a couple hits!) During my first week in Austin, while hiking, I spotted a car with Connecticut plates and a UConn bumper sticker and left a note on the car. The driver happened to be a recent grad also new to Austin. We remain good friends to this day. In Alaska, I met a travel occupational therapist on a solo, after-work hike. It’s the feeling of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone that is so rewarding and cultivates personal growth. I chase that feeling every single day.

An adventure is any experience that feels different from the day to day. Whether it’s running a new route, calling a friend you’ve not spoken to in a while, writing a letter, cooking a new recipe, trying a different fitness class, chatting with the Uber driver, eating at a new restaurant, going to a comedy show, a craft fair, a sports game, a national park, or my favorite, hiking. Adventure is more or less an attitude of embracing the details of the day to day: making eye contact with someone and telling them hello when you would normally walk by with your head down, thanking the woman at the front desk by name, writing a review about the exceptionally friendly tour guide or ice cream scooper. We have these encounters daily, but when we’re traveling, we’re more attune to them.

We have an opportunity, as individuals and professionals, to travel and to share our time and energy with clients and patients around the country. We also carry a responsibility as health care professionals to nurture own health and happiness. What better means for achieving this work-life balance than traveling?

Here I am two and a half years later with a dog who’s traveled to more states than most people and a Honda Civic full of memories and miles. I’ve worked in skilled nursing facilities, elementary schools, middle schools, a high school, hospitals, outpatient facilities, home health and even provided teletherapy. I have friends and former clients in all corners of the country and I can name the primary grocery store chain in most cities. Today my adventure is publishing my first article. I invite you, wherever you are in the country and in your life, to say yes to creating your adventures and embrace the everyday moments.


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