Are you meant to be a travel nurse? If you are seeking a new adventure, love helping patients, and can adjust to living simply, travel nursing may be a good fit for you. In this article, we cover what you may not know about travel nursing, like the importance of budgeting, planning, and scheduling, to give you an idea of what life is like on the road.
What you may not know about travel nursing that’s worth considering before signing a contract:
- You’re paid to travel the country BUT there’s A LOT of paperwork. Healthcare Staffing companies will verify your licenses and certifications along with vaccination records and blood tests. Then you may need to complete a skills checklist and/or assessment as proof that you are capable of doing the job for which you have applied. It’s all worth it because the agency is paying you to travel the country, but know that your first assignment with an agency will require paperwork and a little patience as it all gets processed.
- You can choose how much time off you want between contracts. During your 13-week contract, you will likely not have much time off or any PTO in some cases, but you can take as much time off as you want between contracts. Knowing this allows you to plan ahead for vacations and visits to loved ones. This is one of the biggest perks to travel nursing. Many nurses love the flexibility to choose when and where they work based on what is best for them.
- You will always be the new girl or guy. It may feel like the first day as a travel nurse every time you start a new contract and you’re not alone. Accepting that it is awkward for a bit is part of being a traveler; you’re there to care for patients and the social aspect will get better with time. Embracing the culture and offering a helping hand to other nurses is a great way to make friends. If you like the facility and there is a possibility for extension, then you might be able to stay, but if you’re ready to move on then you can also choose a different assignment.
- Your schedule may not be ideal AND you will be asked to float. Travelers are needed to fill a gap for the facility. You may be floating during a travel assignment to cover permanent staffing and you may be working weekends. Some of our travelers prefer to work weekends because they can enjoy fewer crowds while running personal errands or enjoying the outdoors on hiking trails, skiing, biking, and more.
- You will need to have some money saved. Enjoying a period without work between contracts means you still need to cover your living expenses. Becoming a saver will allow you to do this. You will also need savings to cover housing for the first few weeks after starting an assignment as you wait for your housing reimbursement. Most housing requires a few months of rent in advance so make sure to plan ahead. In our article about how to save money as a travel nurse, we write about using a budget tracker and other ways to cover expenses as you’re on the road.
- You can’t take everything with you. If you’re moving to a new location, you will need to take some of your belongings, but will most likely not have room for everything. Figuring out the logistics of moving a few times a year can be exhausting but getting to your new destination is exhilarating. Ask fellow travelers for their best practices for moving. Learning how to embrace a minimalistic lifestyle will help you enjoy the adventure of being in a new place!
- You might feel weird traveling alone. What you may not know about travel nursing is that as you get to know your new location, you may feel like going out alone is strange BUT it’s the only way to meet people. Talk to coworkers, check out meetups for singles, or join a club. Travelers say they never want to leave a place wondering what they could have done while they were there. Think of it as an experience to be enjoyed and get to know the people.
It is our hope that we’ve provided thinking and talking points for you to explore becoming a travel nurse. There are many questions to ask and things to know before you consider taking a contract.