As a school-setting travel therapist, you have the unique benefit of fixed breaks in the school calendar, particularly during the summer months. With prolonged time away from your career, there are almost too many possibilities for what you can get done. There are infinite ideas to help inspire your summer calendar, but sometimes it’s more helpful to hear from others who are in your shoes. We enlisted the help of one of our school-setting SLPs, Julie Irwin, to share her experience optimizing summer break in more detail.
Can you provide any details on how you made the most of your summers off as a school-setting travel therapist?
Although I wouldn’t call myself primarily a school-based therapist, I definitely love working in schools for many reasons, one of those reasons being the layout of the school year. I love how the year has built-in breaks which allow me the freedom to go home or travel. Though the breaks are wonderful for mental health and small trips, I typically take time off in the summer or in between contracts to do extended travel trips, both domestic and international. I typically give myself a few weeks after the end of my contract to leisurely drive back to the east coast, making sure to stop in as many states and at as many national parks and “must-see” sights along the way. Since I’m trying to thoroughly see all 50 states by 30, this part is important to me. The freedom to travel without the fear of needing to be on-call or returning to work is such a perk of travel therapy.
I have spent my time off making international trips to 20+ European countries, Canada, and the Caribbean and also enjoyed the free time to catch up on CEUs, read, and research places and events to add to my already extensive bucket listJulie Irwin, MS., CCC-SLP
What unique things we you able to do by having a prolonged vacation that made this time extra valuable?
I have spent my time off (typically two months in the winter and two months in the summer) making international trips to 20+ European countries, Canada, and the Caribbean. I prioritize time with my family and friends, as my dad’s prolonged battle with cancer and my desire to travel while spending as much time with him as possible is the reason why I got into traveling in the first place. I try to do some PRN work, but make sure I never work more than 1-2 days a week to give myself a break from work to fill my cup enough to stay at the caliber I want to be at as a clinician when a new contract begins. I’ve also enjoyed the free time to catch up on CEUs, read, and research places and events to add to my already extensive bucket list.
Was having an extended break one of the reasons you chose to work in schools?
I don’t see myself ever going back to full-time work in the medical setting since I have been spoiled with the breaks and freedom contract work and school calendars have allowed. No matter where I go, I am praised for my hard work, skill, and passion. Though I’d like to think that no matter what type of work I’d be doing, I’d perform the same, I truly think these built-in breaks I’ve promised myself have allowed me to achieve work-life balance and to miss the work, and start a new contract with fervor and drive.