Whether you are new to travel nursing or have been in the game awhile, there are always opportunities to explore and local travel nursing is one of them. Any nurse can be a travel nurse, yet, most nurses have families and other things that keep them from traveling around the world.
But, is there a way to be a travel nurse and not leave your own state?
Absolutely! You can become a local travel nurse. This opportunity gives you all the perks of a travel nurse like higher pay, flexibility, and choosing your own jobs without needing to leave your home state (or maybe even your hometown).
How do you become a travel nurse? Keep reading to find out.
How Do I Become a Travel Nurse?
Before becoming a travel nurse, you will need experience working as a nurse. Typically, 1-2 years of experience is necessary before becoming a travel nurse.
There are many travel nurse agencies that you can reach out to, like Health Carousel Travel Nursing (HCTN). After you contact them, they will get you in touch with one of their recruiters. From there, they can help find your travel assignments, wherever they may be.
Each travel assignment requires a contract. The contract is between you, your travel nurse agency, and the facility. Generally, each contract is 13 weeks long. You can either leave after the contract is up to find a new one, or stay (extend) at your current assignment. You can stay at a given facility for up to one year.
With travel nursing, you are in control. You never have to feel stuck at a job you don’t like.
Is your current assignment not a good fit? After the contract date is up, you have the option to leave and, with the recruiter’s help, find a new one!
Recruiters are fully invested in you as a nurse and want to get to know you as a person and a professional. This will help them find you the perfect travel assignment that meets your needs every time.
Can I be a Travel Nurse in my Own State?
The answer is yes! Local travel nursing allows you to work at a hospital near you on a contract. It can be minutes away from your home or may be a bit farther away.
You may have heard of the “50-mile rule” so let’s address this. In the IRS publication 463, the tax-free stipend is determined by whether you’ll need to stay somewhere, like a hotel, to rest because of your job location. If you drive too far to come home every night after working, that's when the tax-free stipend comes into play. It all comes down to the IRS and its regulations.
Typically, travel nursing agencies say that taking a contract over 50 miles away can receive the tax-free stipend and in turn, you could make a little more money. If you have questions on this, talk to your tax professional.
Wherever you chose to work, you will still have higher pay than a staff nurse.
Can I Do Local Travel Nursing in My Hometown?
You can be a local travel nurse right where you live. This allows you to explore surrounding hospitals and how they operate. Some nurses will do this simply for the perks of travel nursing without going too far. The higher pay, flexibility, and not feeling “stuck” in the same place day in and day out are reasons they travel close to home.
Other nurses chose local travel nursing to scope out other hospitals to see where they would want to eventually end up as a permanent staff nurse. Travel nursing puts you in the driver's seat on finding your dream job!
As you pick your different jobs with local travel nursing, keep in mind the “50 mile rule” as it can determine the amount of pay received. If you chose a job that is under 50 miles away from your house, the pay will be lower than that of a job over 50 miles away. This is because of the tax-free stipend talked about in the previous section. With jobs that are under 50 miles from your home, you will not get the tax-free stipend that is given for additional costs like housing.
Each contract (job) can have different compensation depending on the location from your home. The great thing about local travel nursing is this can change with every contract. If you take a job that is under 50 miles away from your home, you can work there 13 weeks and then leave. Your next contract could be over 50 miles if you choose, and your pay could be higher for that 13 week contract.
The flexibility with local travel nursing is a key component for a lot of nurses to choose this journey.
Pros and Cons with Local Travel Nursing
Like anything, there are pros and cons to traveling locally.
Some of the pros include:
- You can go home to your family after work
- Your income increases even though you’re working the same amount of hours
- You can choose the length of time you work at a certain facility
- Short term commitment with hospitals as contracts are generally 13 weeks long
- You can choose to stay at a certain facility up to a year if you desire
Some of the cons include:
- Some assignments may be a longer commute for you
- Being unfamiliar with hospitals when you first start
Writing out your own pros and cons list can help you see if local travel nursing is the right for you. Many nurses are feeling overworked, unhappy, and underpaid. Travel nursing gives you options that some nurses only dream of.
Make that dream your reality. Give yourself an increase in pay without all the overtime shifts. Put yourself in control by picking where and when you want to work. Give yourself control over your own happiness with your job. Get connected with one of our recruiters and become a local travel nurse today!
Is it worth it to do local travel nursing?
As mentioned previously, this is a great opportunity to explore different hospitals and how they operate. This option gives you increased flexibility and pay while working the same amount of hours as a staff nurse.
Can you be a travel nurse and stay local?
Yes! Local travel nursing is where a nurse works on a contract through a travel nurse agency within their home state or even hometown. The drive can be minutes away from the nurses’ house or a little farther. Just remember the “50 mile rule” when thinking of location. If the contract is over 50 miles, you will get the tax-free stipend which will increase your pay. If it’s under 50 miles away, you won’t receive the stipend. Either way, you’ll make more than you did as a staff nurse and be able to come home to your family every night.
Brenly Hammond, RN has worked as a nurse for over five years, primarily on the medical/surgical floor. She has been a travel nurse for the last three years in Indiana, where she lives with her husband and two beautiful babies. Brenly is a bedside nurse who aspires to become a wellness/healthcare writer to help nurses and patients all around the world.