I have been a traveling speech therapist for the better part of 10 years. During that time, I have learned the “ins and outs” of having a successful day when your vehicle is your office. There are many more “must haves” but these are the basics!
1. Phone and charger: This seems like an obvious but we all know that one person whose phone is always dead before lunch. I am on my phone a lot! I run all of my social media during the day through my phone. Apps tend to suck a lot of juice from your phone. Parents need to be able to get in touch with me in case they need to cancel or reschedule. I have some parents that shoot me a text to warn me little johnnie is having a bad day. Needless to say, my phone does not last the day without a charge session.
2. Charged IPAD: Again, another obvious! Nothing stinks worse that pulling your ipad out to work on articulation and it’s dead! Trust me, not a good start to the day!
3. Laptop with flashdrives: I always have my laptop with me. If I am running a 10 minutes early to a client, I can proofread my newest product. During lunch, I can write a report or bill insurance. An unexpected cancellation means I have time to start a new blog post. if I can check things off my “to Do” list before I get home, it is an awesome feeling!
4. Schedule/calendar: I’m old school. I actually go the office supply store (which i love to walk around when I have time) and buy an actual planner! Shocking I know! I have tried to use calendar apps and I just can’t do it. After I see a client, I check them off in my calendar. If they paid for sessions, I mark it in my calendar. If they cancel, it gets marked in my calendar. I even write “to do” lists on each day in my calendar. It’s a struggle if my schedule is left at home!
5. Trusty bag: I have been through a few different bags to carry my speech stuff. Right now, I have a great backpack. It has pockets everywhere and all my stuff fits. I had a great bag from LL Bean but I tended to stuff way too much stuff in it. Then my shoulders and back hurt all the time. (I took it in to doctor’s appt once to work while i waited. they weighed it…it was 30lbs! I got in trouble for carrying too much crap.) Whatever bag you decide on, it needs to be sturdy and have plenty of pockets/storage!
6. Mileage app: I use “Milebug” but there are many out there. Download one on your phone and keep up with your miles! “Milebug” will turn all my miles into a nice table at the end of the year. Then I just use that when I do my taxes. It is super easy to record your miles between each visit.
7. Containers for clean and dirty toys: Once a toy gets used, it goes in the dirty toy bin. I keep disinfecting wipes in my vehicle so if I have a chance I will wipe the used toys down. I tend to use certain toys for certain kids so I usually clean at the end of the day. The toys that can be ran through dishwasher get a good bath that way. Main thing is to keep the toys separated!
8. Rainboots: You laugh but nothing is worse than stepping in a water puddle first thing in the morning and your shoes & socks stay wet and cold all day! I have two pairs-an insulated pair of rainboots and a regular pair. They are easy to slip off as you go into a client’s house.
9. Knowledge of your service areas: Again, you think i am kidding. But as a home health therapist, it’s important to know which gas stations have the cleanest facilities. I cover 3 counties. In each one, I know the cleanest bathrooms and which places have wifi. I know which ones stock my favorite candy and which ones have the cheapest gas in town.
10. Google maps: You need this one! I have gotten sketchy directions from people over the phone. I have talked to parents who seriously could not tell me how to get to their house…seriously! Google maps has clarified many wrong street names or even the wrong side of town. No doubt someone will tell me “Oh I am only about 5 minutes from that Mcdonald’s.” Only to find out they are actually 35 minutes from that Mcdonald’s!
This list was really hard to narrow down. A couple of other added “needs” would be hand sanitizer in the vehicle and backpack and long johns! In the past 10 years, I have had families that did not have heat in the winter. Scrub pants are just not thick enough during those winter months either. Invest in a pair of thermals to wear under your pants. You’ll thank me later!
Are you a traveling therapist? What are some of your “must haves”?