Travel Nurse

See the Country with a Travel Nursing Career

A travel nursing career has it all. You get to see the country, meet tons of new people, and have the experience of a lifetime. You can do all this while making more money than you would as a staff nurse. Many different types of nurses work in travel nursing: ICU, Cariac Care, Telemetry, and more!

Travel nurses usually work with a particular travel nurse company. Within that company, you will work with a recruiter. Having a great recruiter is the key to getting good contracts, living in suitable apartments, and making the right salary.

In a travel nursing career the amount of time you spend in one area will depend on the contract you sign. Most contracts are three months in length. Some contracts are longer though. For example, contracts to work in HAWAII (and yes live on Waikiki Beach) are usually at least 6 months long.

If you are interested in an international travel nursing career, expect contracts lasting a year or even more. Many hospitals will allow travel nurses to re-sign contracts for up to a year. That being said, I have friends who have worked as a “travel nurse” for over 3 years on the same unit. It will all depend on how short staffed the hospital you choose to work in is.

Travel nurses are hired to work on a particular unit in a hospital. If you are planning to enter this type of nursing however, you must be prepared to be flexible. Travel nurses are usually the first to be moved to another floor during a shift to help with staffing shortages. That is seen as one of the major disadvantages to working as a travel nurse.

While you may get used and abused as a travel nurse, you will get paid well for it! Travel nurses, as a rule, always get paid more than staff nurses. Some places even give sign-on bonuses for contracts as short as 3 months. 

While this career option is not for everyone, I know many people who did it for a just a few years and it made them better nurses than they already were. Pick your travel company carefully, and if your recruiter is not working hard enough for you, find a new one. As with anything in life, it is all what you make of it.

Travel Nurse Benefits you will LOVE!

Travel nurse benefits are almost indescribable. You may already know the advantages you can look forward to, but reading these may give you that little extra nudge you have been looking for to GO FOR IT!

1. Travel nurses get paid more by the hour and can sometimes even get sign on bonuses like I said before. While bonuses are not as abundant these days as they were in years past, they can still be found sometimes.

2. You get to live for free! Yep, that’s right, FREE. Many companies give you the option of either taking a provided apartment from the company, or taking a monthly rent stipend that is TAX-FREE (for a year anyway). The stipend is adequate for a decent apartment where you will be located.

3. Travel Nurses get to see the country. Most hospitals have the option of working three 12-hour shifts per week. During a three month contract, that means you will get about 60 days out of work to explore your new city!

4. You can take a vacation every 3 months if you want to. Travel nursing requires you to move between cities, so you can schedule your contracts so that you have a week or two in between each city. The holidays are a great time to take advantage of this travel nurse benefit.

5. You can move with the weather. Me—I hate cold weather. Travel nursing would let me go to Las Vegas in the winter months and Boston in the summer months so I could have the best of both worlds.

While there are some disadvantages, for those travel nurses that love it, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. If you are unsure, just remember you can always do one contract to experiment. If you end up hating it, you have only lost 3 short months.

Travel Nursing Disadvantages

It is not all fun and games all the time. There are travel nursing disadvantages you should be aware of. You may or may not be able to deal with these, but at least you will know to expect them.

1. The major disadvantage, as I already pointed out, is that while you may have a contract to work on a cardiac floor, don’t be surprised when you are floated to the gen-med floor. Most units have the policy that travel nurses are the “first to float”. That is just the way it is.

2. There will be some animosity you will face from some hospital staff nurses. You will both be performing the same job, but you will be getting paid more for it. This is not always the case, but you will definitely encounter these individuals.

3. You may need to work more nights and weekends than you would prefer to. Remember, travel nurses are there to fill the holes in staffing, wherever they may be.

4. Your orientation is very short. If you don’t catch on quickly, you may struggle to enjoy travel nursing. Orientation is hardly ever longer than three shifts with most contracts.

5. Traveling can be lonely for some people. Even if you travel with a friend, you may have different schedules. If you are not the type of person who can amuse yourself, or easily meet new people, this may be a travel nursing disadvantage that makes this choice hard to overcome.

Travel nursing is fast paced and hard work. While I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, you must decide for yourself. In order to get the best experience possible, assure that you have enough clinical experience so that the problems listed here will not be compounded with a low self-esteem in your skills and abilities.