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Traveling Veterinarian Career Options

Do you want to travel and get paid at the same time? Whether you’re looking to fund a vacation, visit family, or pursue travel as your life style, relief work can provide jobs at animal hospitals across the country. Here’s all you need to know about becoming a traveling veterinarian.

Traveling Vet vs Mobile Vet

Is a traveling veterinarian the same thing as a mobile veterinarian? No. A mobile veterinarian serves a specific area of the country, usually around the city they live in. Instead of having a stationary clinic,  mobile vets travel to their patients. Mobile vets  are especially helpful when pets have limited mobility or are fearful of the hospital environment.

A traveling vet, on the other hand, is a type of relief veterinarian. A traveling vet leaves their local city to provide relief services for a hospital. These shifts can be as short as a day or as long as a few months, as in the case of maternity leave or medical leave coverage.

Examples of a Traveling Veterinarian

There are many reasons why someone would choose this type of work. Sometimes, it’s to support a specific vacation destination, or to explore a potential new home city. Other relief vets use far-off shifts to help family members. And there’s also the vets that want to indulge their wanderlust and see the world.

Funding a Dream Vacation

Nancy G. had dreamed of doing a road trip through the National Parks for years.  She didn’t want to leave her full-time job, but she was curious to learn how other animal practices worked. She chose to turn her vacation into a working trip, taking a few days to join the team at a hospital in Utah, near Zion National Park, as a relief vet. As a temporary full-time member of the clinic, she had the opportunity to see new approaches to veterinary medicine and fund her trip to see a new National Park at the same time.

Supporting Family

For John S., a veterinarian in Los Angeles, travel was important for a different reason. John’s elderly parents were living in San Francisco and needed more care. However, he couldn’t move the family to be closer to his parents. He turned to Holiday Vet for help.

They found him a long-term contract job at a large hospital near his parents’ home. With multiple vets needing vacation, John could stay with the same dedicated team of veterinarians and sometimes check up on previous pet patients. He didn’t have to learn new processes for each shift. He not only balanced caring for his parents’ medical needs but also stayed current in his career. 

Full-Time Traveling Veterinarian

Relief work can be a full-time job for veterinary medicine practitioners that want to live their lives on the road. Stacey L, a veterinarian originally from Texas, put aside her dream of world travel for too long.

She wanted to enjoy her time traveling, not working to find jobs. Holiday Vet handled the job search for her, matching her schedule with the perfect clinic at each stop on her trip. Stacey preferred longer-term jobs, like maternity relief coverage, to get the time to really gel with the veterinary team she was working with. This way, she could fully explore the area but not be tied down to it.

Sometimes, she wasn’t sure what site to visit next. She’d consult with her scheduling manager at Holiday Vet to see where the best opportunities for her experience and salary range were. Then she’d plan her travel based on the jobs that were the most attractive, while also considering her state licenses.

What’s important to know about traveling veterinarians?

Two men on a VW Bus

The veterinary industry is constantly growing. There’s plenty of opportunity for vets with experience across the country and around the world.

Traveling veterinarian jobs requires the same traits as associate veterinarians:

  • Love of animals
  • Good team skills
  • High level of care for your pet patients

In addition, relief veterinarians that travel will need to be flexible, adapting to different company practices quickly.  If you’re doing short jobs at a variety of hospitals to support a road trip, for example, you’ll want to adapt to how each clinic runs their practice.

Most relief work positions are in the small animal field, so you’re working more with house pets than with farm animals. Some hospitals may require surgical skills, while others are more focused on general veterinary care.

You do have to be licensed in the state you are traveling to for work, however some states, such as Alaska offer temporary licenses that are for easy to apply for an inexpensive. Other states, offer no temporary licenses and can be hard to even get a permanent license in. For example, California can take many months to get licensed, even if you are applying for a license by endorsement of another state.


Relief work requires a high level of expertise as well. It’s not a job for students or recent DVM grads, as you’ll often be the only doctor in the practice. Veterinarians with a few years of experience excel at relief work. Going into a different hospital on regular intervals can be more challenging than just working at the same practice each day. You have to learn to adapt to different protocols and situations, new staff and different drug inventory. 

Choosing a relief veterinarian job can open new doors in your career. You’ll see how different veterinarians treat similar conditions in animals, and you may see different illnesses based on where you are. A shift at a company in the Southwest may give you experience with heat-related conditions that you don’t see very often in, say, New England.

You’ll also see common traits in a successful team. You may find that certain states require digital dental radiology and bring that back to your practice at home. There’s always a chance to learn something new that can help provide better medical care for the animals you treat.

Pay Rate For Traveling Veterinarian

As relief veterinarian jobs are in high demand, the salary for these positions is competitive. Most relief positions pay as much or more than associate vet jobs. There are high differences in pay rates between states, so working away from home may bring in more money than expected.


Each state requires a valid license to practice veterinary medicine. All states accept NAVLE scores and a degree from an accredited university. Costs for licensing range between $100-$500. Some states require state boards, and those may be offered only at specific times. California, for example, only offers the state board tests at certain times during the year.

Whether you want to do relief work for a day, a week or be a full time traveling veterinarian, Holiday Vet can help. Sign up today and let us support your travel dreams.