Low budget travel is not an oxymoron. It just takes some time exploring options. Sometimes train or bus travel, for example, is less expensive than flying. I’ve stayed in hostels, in college dorm rooms, at homestays and even camped.
Instead of going to pricey banquets or eating at restaurants, I find a local grocery or convenience store and stock up on fruit, sandwich makings and instant oatmeal and instant soups that can be made by just asking for hot water at a coffee shop. It’s not gourmet but it’s fine for a few days.
Check out these sites for some alternative housing ideas:
If you do decide to stay in a hotel, search the internet for accommodations close to the conference venue. Last year, I stayed at a perfectly fine hotel for $100 a night, a few blocks away from the $350 a night conference hotel. A short walk saved me $250 a night!
Do remember to check every membership you have for travel and accommodation discounts. Membership in AAA, AARP, APA and other professional organizations, for example, often entitle you to a percentage off. If you are over 55, don’t forget to ask if there is a “seniors” discount.
- Buy conference DVDs or recordings: Another cost saving alternative is to order some of the DVDs from that annual conference you would have liked to attend if it weren’t on the other side of the country and in a five star hotel. You won’t get the stimulation from new people that occurs at an annual meeting but you will get cutting edge information.
- Look for local workshops that offer CEUs. Check your professional newsletter or listserve for listings. Contact the HR office of local agencies to see if they offer the opportunity for professionals besides those on their staffs to attend their in-house programs for a reasonable fee.
- Stay in touch with interesting people you knew in grad school or those you meet at workshops and conferences. Visit. Email. Skype. Lively conversations with a friend and colleague, whether over lunch or online, can be even more informative and more fun than a conference or class.
Engaging in professional development isn’t optional. It’s simply not okay to coast on what we learned in grad school, even if graduation wasn’t many years ago.
It’s not all right to rely only on our own experience. We all develop theoretical biases and practice habits that may not be serving our clients well. Fulfilling the requirements for continuing education units for licensure by reading a few articles that have quizzes attached isn’t the same as engaging in strenuous intellectual debate.
How, then, do we continue to grow professionally when in private practice?
The answer is commitment to in-service activity. Doing so is an investment in ourselves and a service to our clients. We do have the time. After all, one of the best parts of being in private practice is having a “boss” who will make it a priority.
Adult Learning image courtesy of Shutterstock.