One of the negatives to travel is long distance relationships. Don’t listen to the haters who say they never work out. This doesn’t exclusively refer to just romantic relationships either. When you travel, you move from family, friends, and yes your partner if you have one. Sometimes this can take a toll on you being away from everyone, and covid has only intensified that hole in your heart. Now on the flip side, travel therapy is great for helping you get closer to your loved ones especially when they are all spread apart. However, I’m currently about 7.5 hours from my boyfriend (we have always been LDR), and about 6.5-7 hours from my mom (my person). And in complete opposite directions from me! Yes, COVID has made everything 10000% harder and more emotionally draining, and I have hit some low points where these LDR’s got the best of me over the last few months. I have experienced FOMO being away from my dear friends on the other side of the state. I missed Friendsgiving this year (I have missed a couple d/t PT school, but I was very set on going this year. I am glad I didn’t though b/c later that week, I tested positive for covid). I went about 4 months without seeing my mom (which is a BIG deal for us). I always get anxious when I haven’t seen her in a while and begin to feel disconnected from her and begin to panic. There was a couple of weeks where I kept calling her when she was busy, we hadn’t had time to catch up in a while, and I hadn’t seen her in 3 months so I metally spiraled. I would think “is she mad at me? Is she upset that I haven’t been able to visit? Am I disappointing her in some way?” And of course none of that is the case, nor did she actually do or say anything to insinuate that. Then I have my boyfriend. One of the main reasons I wanted to do travel therapy is so I could get a contract near him and see how we do living in the same zip code. Now before you ask why don’t I just move there, I also wasn’t wanting a permanent job anywhere either because I wasn’t sure what setting I wanted to be in and I didn’t want to be stuck at some clinic for 5 years. I get frustrated because I don’t think people see the effort I put into trying to get a contract near my boyfriend. I will hear from other people how my boyfriend looks sad because I won’t move there, or everyone is asking him when I am coming up to visit. Or people ask how my BF feels that I’m applying for a license in Florida when he lives in Missouri (BTW I’ve been licensed in MO for over a year now). I then feel incompetent in so many ways because I am constantly questioned about my intentions to get closer to him. This causes me to somewhat lash out at my boyfriend when he isn’t even the one who has brought any of this up nor ever questioned my intentions. He is so patient and understanding. I currently have 3 recruiters with 3 different companies actively looking, and I independently search 2 separate resources that post weekly travel job openings. And I feel like, is that not enough for them? Do they think I can be doing more? CAN I be doing more? But, they don’t ask me how I’m handling this LDR. I think when this is a job you have chosen, people don’t think you are also suffering from missing your loved ones just as much as them. They figure you are just doing your own thing and not worried about anyone else. That could be the case for some, but unfortunately for me, I am a SEVERE people pleaser. Ugh it’s exhausting physically, metnally, and emotionally. It’s hard to set boundaries and prioritize when it’s people you love so much. What am I supposed to do, set a self- imposed travel ban so people can come visit me instead? (Ok yes I have mentally done that). I have been in the same place for 10 months and no one has come to visit me yet, and my dad and brothers are less than 2 hours away (in their “defense” they have only ever traveled to me when I graduated college and DPT school, so it really wasn’t a shock they haven’t paid me a visit). Granted, covid has made the travel game more difficult. Another emphasis on how covid has made everything 1000% harder. This is not meant to be a downer or pity party post. This is to show some of the tough parts of this job, while you’re in the middle of struggling through it. I found myself crying on and off this weekend because it has been so tough (granted I am also hormonal, I was crying at New Girl and Schitt’s Creek so let’s not get too concerned about my mental health just yet). Tears streaming down my face, snot getting wiped on my boyfriend’s t-shirt I was wearing, the whole 9 yards. *Cue the donkey from Shrek singing “I’m all alooone, there’s no one here beside meee.” If you are managing an LDR, this type of moment is inevitable, but that’s okay (Honestly this was my first true come apart, and hormones played a big part in it) because this isn’t easy and it isn’t supposed to be! If living far apart was so easy, well.. Then… I won’t finish that thought. Now if I haven’t lost you yet, you’ve won the prize of seeing how I do actually manage long distance relationships! (I swear I actually do)
- FACETIME: Facetime is a godsend. I have facetime coffee dates with friends where we can catch up on our lives and I can see their beautiful faces. I can see my gorgeous mom as we catch up on our crazy week and she shows my step dad, cat, and 3 crazy dogs. And my boyfriend and I will schedule facetime dates so I can see his cute face too.
- TRIPS: One thing I have always loved about my relationship with Alex (my BF), is we love to explore. We have always been long distanced, so we have explored many towns/cities together (Nashville, Carbondale, St. Robert, St. Louis, Santa Rosa Beach, Chattanooga, Kansas City, Memphis, Poplar Bluff). Wherever I am, we always look up the halfway point between us and will do at least one trip of meeting in the middle. We also try to stay pretty even on who travels all the way to visit the other. We are very lucky right now that the halfway point for us is St. Louis, which is only 4 hours, and we love it there. I also love making a trip to visit my mom b/c 1.) she’s the best, and 2.) She lives at the beach.
- CouplesGame/Conversation cards: Alex and I are secretly the cutest, and on our anniversary, we both got each other couples conversation cards so we can learn more about each other. (Thankfully different decks). Sometimes when I’m feeling anxious or even bored, I’ll ask that we draw some. There is also an awesome app called Couple Game. You can choose categories and fill out your answers and guess your partner’s answers. Winner gets to choose their prize and the app keeps a record of that. For example: Alex still has to make me a playlist, and I still owe him sitting through a Lord of the Rings movie marathon with him.
- COMMUNICATION: I am a huge communicator but this is still an area I can work on. For example when you find yourself catching a guilt trip of how hard this is on someone else and that you should come visit more, try to be honest about how this is hard on you too. I have found myself either trying to stay strong for others with “Aww I know this is hard on them, but I’m trying to find time to come visit.” or becoming pissy and passive aggressive like “Well I have 5 different people wanting me to come visit them, but you know who all has come to visit me? 0.” (yes, pretty sure that was an actual text I sent).
- Reach out, Let them know you miss them: now I know I’m being a cry baby about people not visiting, but I do NOT wait around to hear from people. When someone has been on my mind, I let them know. You never know what others are going through. I know when I have gotten random check-in texts from friends it has warmed my heart. Even if it is just a “Hey you’ve been on my mind, I hope you’re doing well” send it! (unless it is to an ex, we’re not doing that fam). I remember I did that, it took my friend a few days to respond but she had been going through some stuff, and it made me all the happier that I sent it and letting her know she is loved. One of my best friends and I only communicate in memes we find. I’m very lucky to have some friends in the town I’m currently contracted in, one being my roommate in PT school. She always seems to text me when she’s been on my mind to reach out to, so thank you Sequoyha. And I don’t know what I would do without my best friend Liz who I can always talk to about things I feel so crazy over and she makes me feel heard and valued. She’s been an LDR friend since graduating highschool and I am always so thankful for her friendship and our conversations.
All this to say, travel therapy isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. When people ask me some of the negatives to travel, I mention this, but I wanted to give an actual raw look at how this struggle can sometimes take over. Now, this does not mean I regret becoming a travel therapist, nor do I plan to give it up anytime soon as long as the job market can keep growing after the covid crash (omg I’m claiming that term). My roommate and I were both talking today about how this job is such a great opportunity for personal and career growth. I have learned so much, and have made some amazing connections with people along the way. You will have weekends like I did this weekend, where you just feel defeated by the distance. But you pick yourself back up, and keep the faith that it’ll all work out in the end. If you are a traveler, share this with loved ones, let them know that you do in fact miss them as much as they miss you.
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