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Lifestyle Advantages of Being a Travel Nurse

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Health Carousel Travel Nursing
September 12, 2022
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A nursing trend currently taking over the nation is travel nursing. Don’t be left behind. Take advantage of the unique opportunity to see the world while at the same time doing the job you love. Traveling nursing is not a temporary contract but a new nursing career.

Travel While Working

Travel nurses have tapped into the best parts of life by being able to travel while they work. 

What is travel nursing?

When a hospital or medical facility is short on nurses or does not have enough staff, they will hire travel nurses. Travel nurses typically work at a medical facility for about 13 weeks to fill a needed nursing position. After your contract expires, you move onto another medical facility in need. It is a great way to help where nurses are needed the most. 

Where do you work? 

There are open positions for traveling nurses all across the United States, meaning you may be able to  travel to almost any city you want. Most travel assignments are for hospitals or big medical facilities. Specialties can vary from the emergency department to critical care units or medical floors. 

What's in it for me? 

Travel nursing is more than taking a quick vacation, as there are many benefits to becoming a travel nurse. Travel nurses can immerse themselves in the life and culture of the cities they visit. They can learn about the great local places, not only the touristy ones. 

Other benefits include getting to meet new people. The new coworkers you’ll be working with, both at the facility and employees of the travel agency, may become lifelong friends. You may even meet a travel buddy to go on your next adventure with.  

Travel nursing is more than completing a contract, it is building a travel nurse career. 

Why Do It?

Freedom

The travel nurse lifestyle allows many freedoms. One of these is the freedom to choose your city. Travel nurses are in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing their location. In the cold months, you can move south and soak up the sun in Florida. If you like the winter weather, you can move to the mountains and enjoy some skiing. If summer heat isn’t your friend, working in Montana or Wisconsin during the summer months may be ideal. 

If you want to stay closer to home for your first assignment, you can. There may be several travel assignments located in your current city.

Freedom to choose your specialty

Travel nurses are needed across all specialties. From critical care to the emergency department, operating rooms and even interventional radiology, the need for registered nurses is huge. 

For the best travel nursing experience you will want to work in a specialty you are familiar with. Travel nurses get limited orientation, so it is best to stick to what you know.   

Freedom to choose your schedule

Travel assignments are typically 13 weeks long. Once you have accepted a job the travel nurse agency will work with you and the hospital to create a contract. When writing the contract, things such as time off, days you can or can’t work, and any other special requests can be written in. You will work with your travel nurse agency to negotiate the best contract. 

Between assignments, you have the freedom and flexibility to take a month or an entire six months off. Many travel nurses have used this benefit to travel the world or take time off during the holidays. 

Freedom to choose where you live

When working as a travel nurse, you have the choice on where you live, not only the location, but the type of housing you live in as well. This can include an apartment, hotel, or wherever you want.

You have the option of having your travel nursing agency find you a comfortable place to live, or you may be able to take the housing stipend and find a place on your own, such as negotiating a deal with a local hotel or Airbnb. Health Carousel Travel Nursing offers housing services to help nurses employed through our agency find their home away from home. 

There are many travel nurses who travel between their jobs in an RV or van converted into a one room apartment. An article on Insider, featured Nurse Danny Rekart and wife, Lindsey Graham, who travel the country in their 75-foot conversion van. Living in their van gives them more free time by eliminating the need to pack and move from city to city.  

Whether it is an apartment with a pool, a condo on the beach, or an RV campsite, you get to choose how you live.  

Professional Growth: travel nursing also helps you build an impressive nursing skill set 

Increases your flexibility

The first new skill set you learn is flexibility. Travel nursing forces you to extend beyond your comfort zone. It increases your ability to roll with the punches, which is vital in nursing. 

Since travel nurses have the potential to work at a new facility every 13 weeks you are always learning something new. This keeps you flexible, fresh, and prevents you from getting into a workflow rut. 

Education on standards of care

As you gain experience in different areas, you will start to notice standards of care across the country. Although the hospital processes are different, the standard of care is the same. This can be seen in various areas of healthcare, such as how certain illnesses, like pneumonia, are treated. This nursing skill set makes you a stronger, more knowledgeable nurse. 

Expands knowledge of charting systems

Each facility you travel to may use a different electronic medical record or charting system. Working with these different charting systems, such as Epic or Cerner, and learning how to maneuver through them provides experience you can use on your resume. This experience shows you can adapt to new systems and environments. 

Improves teamwork

No nurse survives alone, as nursing is a career that requires teamwork. Travel nurses pick up new skills on how to work as a team with new people they don't know. This teamwork goes beyond learning new skills. During emergency situations, you will need to work with others on the unit, and it can be  difficult to know who will be coming to help you. Being able to work with anyone is a vital skill that not only improves patient care but makes you a stronger nurse. 

Compensation

What travel nurses can make

ZipRecruiter reports an average travel nurse salary ranges from $2,700 to $4,609 per week. Salaries differ depending on location and specialty. Some higher paying specialties include intensive care units, emergency rooms, interventional radiology, and operating rooms. No matter of specialty or not, the majority of the travel nursing positions pay more than staff nurses. 

What travel nurses can save

Saving money can be as easy as making more money with travel nursing. One of these ways is for those who live in an RV or converted van to save money on rent. Nurses Meg and Ty Dewitt, a married couple, saved about $20,000 a month by living in their converted van. 

During your travels, if you decide to find your own housing, your traveling nurse agency will give a house stipend each month. This is money you will be able to use to pay for rent or whatever household cost you accrue while you are away from home. 

An indirect way nurses can save while traveling is to pay off debt. Several travel nurses have reported their ability to pay off their debt because of travel nursing. This can save money because you are no longer paying high interest on credit cards or student loans. 

Free travel

If you don’t want to bother with finding your own place, many travel nurse agencies will pay for moving costs in addition to the housing for you. This allows you to travel for free wherever your assignment takes you. 

Insurance

Many traveling nurse agencies offer a complete package of benefits including health insurance. Health Carousel Travel Nursing is a travel nurse agency that has been recognized for their extensive benefits package. 

Mental Health

Mental health is a big concern for nurses. Travel nursing gives you the freedom and flexibility to put your mental health first.

Take time off when you need to

Take time off in between assignments to help you rest, recover, and re-energize. Even when you are on assignment, it might be a bit easier to disconnect from work, as you are in a new place and have new places to explore. Depending upon where you are, spend some time on the beach, go on a hike or explore the city. Since you have the flexibility travel nursing affords, you have the ability to create the experiences that you want. 

Love your job and stay out of work politics

Travel nursing allows you to do the job you love without having to get mixed up in the workplace politics or negative work environments. Negative work environments cause increased stress, decreased job satisfaction, and affects mental health. With travel nursing you don’t have to worry about hospital politics. Instead, you get to do your job and leave it at the door when you clock out.  

How to Become a Travel Nurse

Find a travel nurse agency

Start your adventure as a travel nurse by finding a travel nurse agency. Travel nurse agencies help you navigate your.  Travel nurse agencies help you navigate your travel experience. They will help you find a job and negotiate your contract.

Health Carousel Travel Nursing is a travel nurse agency that has travel nurse assignments all around the country. Health Carousel Travel Nursing believes travel nursing is not about contracts but is about building a career. When you partner with Health Carousel Travel Nursing, you will connect with a recruiter who understands your wants and what your unique needs are. One phone call can start you on your next big adventure.

Choose your job and location

Once you have established yourself with a company and a recruiter, it's time to look at where you want to go. Based on your specialty and job availability your recruiter will help you find a job and location that is right for you. 

If you travel to a state you have never worked in before, you will need to obtain an active license for that state. Many states are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which allows nurses with compact licenses to practice in other NLC member states without having to obtain additional licenses. Your Health Carousel Travel Nursing recruiter can help you navigate the licensing process. Since you can’t work in a state you’re not licensed in this will be a priority. 

Complete the paperwork

After choosing your destination, your recruiter will work with you and your future healthcare  facility to create a contract that fits the needs of both you and the facility. 

In addition to completing paperwork, the medical facility may ask for a drug screen or other items. Your recruiter will work with you to set up all these appointments, and how to complete tasks required. 

Pack your bags

Once you have your license and all the paperwork done, it's time to pack your bags, set your navigation, and hit the road.

If all these steps seem overwhelming, don’t worry. You will have a designated recruiter to help guide you along the way. The first step is both the hardest and the easiest- contacting a recruiter. Even if you only want to ask more questions, recruiters are there to help you and make it an easy transition. 

FAQs

Can a travel nurse extend their contract beyond 13 weeks?

Yes, depending on the situation. If the hospital is still in need of travel nurses they can extend your contract another 13 weeks. With this extension you will be able to add any new days or shift requirements that you need during the new 13 weeks. 

What kind of orientation do travel nurses get?

This depends on the hospital. Some hospitals will have a short 1-2 day orientation, followed by a few days of floor orientation. Some hospitals have longer new employee orientation followed by an orientation on the unit. Remember the purpose of a travel nurse is to immediately help hospitals in need. So the quicker you are able to get on the unit and fill a position, the better. 

Are the hours and pay rate guaranteed?

This varies depending on your contract. A travel nurse can request to have their hours guaranteed. This means the contract states the travel nurse will get paid regardless of whether they work or not. If the hospital calls you off due to low census, you will still get paid, as long as your contract states your hours are guaranteed. 

Am I allowed to cancel a contract?

This varies depending on each situation. Like any contract, it can be broken, but there may be consequences involved. Before signing a contract it is important to make sure you are able to fulfill the requirements. If you do need to cancel due to some unforeseen event, the first person to contact is your recruiter. They will let you know if there are consequences for canceling a contract before it is complete.

Health Carousel Travel Nursing

Find the Travel Job that’s Right for You

Interested in how the pay stacks up in other states not on this list? Our trusty Super Nurse sidekicks are standing by to answer any questions you have. Click below to get information on opportunities in other states!

Woman standing with suitcase looking out at the city