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How to Spend Your Time Between Travel Assignments

Posted on: October 22nd, 2019

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You’re wrapping up your assignment and have a few weeks or even longer until your next assignment, or maybe you haven’t officially accepted a new assignment yet. There are several great ways to spend your hard to come by spare time.

Take a Sabbatical

A sabbatical offers numerous benefits, including improved health and well-being, the chance to pursue personal goals, experience new things, and the ability to broaden your perspective and gain new skills. Rather than moving straight into a new assignment, why not treat yourself for at least a few months?

While historically most people have associated sabbaticals with universities and tenured professors, more and more companies are realizing the benefits of employees taking sabbaticals and are even offering them to full-time employees. In other words, the stigma associated with gaps in employment is diminishing as work culture changes. Contrary to popular belief, a sabbatical will not necessarily hurt your chances of future employment.

Personally, I am planning one in a couple of years. My wife is from Japan and we are planning to move near her hometown for 6-12 months. My plan is to continue learning Japanese (and have more time to do so), write, work on my website, enjoy the outdoors more, and get to enjoy living in a new country. Maybe I’ll even get involved in the Japanese pharmacist community!

Spend Time with Family and Friends

With all that time spent far away from family while on assignment, the gap before starting your next one is a great time to go back home and catch up with everyone.

Unlike most employees, as a travel professional you can control how long your break period is and truly separate yourself from your work. When I was a manager, for example, it was common for me to get text messages from employees (or my boss) and have pressing issues I need to respond to during my visit home. Most of the time it included answering emails because I knew that if I didn’t, I would come back to an overwhelming and full inbox.

Enjoy that there is no one at a job to call you and interrupt precious time with family and friends!

Go to a Conference and/or Get Your CE Done

Why spend time on your assignment continuing your education when you are focusing on working full-time and trying to enjoy your new location. Instead, get caught up during your assignment gap.

It can be challenging with licenses in multiple states to keep up with all of them, so if you can get a lot of it done between assignments, it can make your life easier for the rest of the licensing period. To do that, you might also consider going to pharmacy conferences in your area of specialization or interest.

Get Your Finances up to Date

When was the last time you gave your finances a tune-up? Traveling and being on assignment full-time are probably not the best time to be giving your finances your undivided attention.

A good place to start is to clarify your financial goals and then map a plan to get there. One survey, in fact, interviewed 177 self-made millionaires and found several common themes:

  • Visualize finances by dividing them into ‘buckets,’ where savings could be allocated
  • Make it a goal early to save 10-20 percent of income, allowing wealth to accumulate
  • Be consistent and patient, save regularly and use time as an advantage.

Have you started your bucket system? Here are the buckets the millionaires used:

  • Retirement: Even if you don’t have access to a 401(k) you can use other investment vehicles, like an IRA)
  • Specific expenses: College funds, down-payments for a house, etc.
  • Emergency fund: The traditional advice is 3-6 months, but that is highly dependent on each person’s situation. One way to determine how much you should have is to determine how long, under a worst-case scenario, do you think it would reasonably take you to find another job if you needed to.
  • Cyclical expenses: Vacations, birthday presents, etc.

Start Your Own Blog

This is admittedly a lot of work and probably harder to keep up once you are on assignment, however, if you like to write, it can give you a creative outlet to talk about your adventures and all the exciting things you are doing because you are a travel professional. You can connect with people, share your experiences and photos, and fend off loneliness in a new area. Check out this travel pharmacist’s blog as an example.

Eventually, if you get enough traffic to your site, you can actually make money doing it.

Alex Evans, PharmD
About Alex Evans, PharmD

Alex Evans, PharmD, BCGP is a community pharmacist and medical writer based out of Jacksonville, FL. He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro with a BS in Biology and from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. He has experience in a variety of settings, including community pharmacy, long term care, outpatient health-system pharmacy, and academia. He is particularly interested in medication safety and supply chain as well as in compliance and legal issues pertaining to the community pharmacy setting. He is currently pursuing an MBA from West Texas A and M University.