Travel Nurse 101: Pros, Cons, and Getting Started

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
December 2, 2021
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One of the latest trends for nurses is a role in the travel nurse industry. According to Bloomberg, approximately 40,000 nurses will be needed by the end of 2021. Travel Nurse Academy is a primer course for healthcare providers looking to explore the details of working as a travel nurse.


Travel Nurse: A nurse who accepts a temporary placement at a hospital or home care agency to fill a staffing need. The length of placement can vary from as short as four weeks long to 26 weeks long, depending on the contract. Nurses looking to travel should have a minimum of one year experience, but two years of experience is preferred before considering a travel nursing assignment. 

Travel Nursing Agency: A company that works with hospitals and home care agencies to fill a nursing shortage need. The travel nurse agency will help with travel reimbursement, licensure, and housing, in addition to pay and comprehensive benefits. 

Travel Nurse Recruiter: Works for a travel nurse agency and functions as a travel nurse’s liaison between a healthcare facility and a potential travel nurse. Nurse recruiters will work to place you with an assignment that matches your strengths and desires. A robust travel nurse recruiter should have excellent communication skills, be organized, and have a great personality that meets the nurse’s needs.



Travel nurses are able to travel around the country or internationally while still earning income working as a nurse. You can work close to home or travel to states you have always wanted to visit, while getting paid.

Work When You Want 

You can control when you work. For example, do you perform better on dayshift working 8-hours five days a week, or would you prefer to work the night shift for three 12-hour shifts?  Do you want to work in a hospital setting? Are you a home care nurse? The opportunities are endless. 

Awesome Pay and Benefits

The perks and benefits are incredible for travel nurses. Travel agencies offer health insurance that includes medical, dental, and vision coverage. The ultimate bonus is the paycheck. On average, travel nurses can make between $85,000 and $110,000 a year. The sky’s the limit!

Reputable Travel Nurse Agencies

Working for an agency that keeps its job boards updated and fresh is a plus. In addition, working with accredited travel nurse agencies on the national and local level helps you to achieve the type of employment you are seeking. 

Resume Builder 

The career opportunities are vast, and every time you accept a travel nurse assignment, you will learn new skills from small rural medical facilities to large teaching institutions. In addition, diverse travel assignments added to your resume will aid you in moving up the career ladder as time evolves. 


There are five items you should consider before accepting a travel nurse assignment. First, what are your goals and expectations of travel nursing? Typical assignments range from 8, 13, and 26 weeks. When your contract is up, it can be time to move on, or extend your contract if it was a good fit. In travel nursing, a quick change of venues or assignments is one of the draws of traveling.  

Second, are you willing to float?  The current nursing shortage may require floating to units other than the unit you originally contracted with to assist with shortages. It’s important to know if floating will be expected during your contract period.

Third, finding your ideal assignment takes determination. Do your research about the facility. Look at nurse travel websites to see what other nurses have to say about the facility. Ask your recruiter if other nurses had great experiences at the facility. These types of questions may determine if it’s a good fit.

Fourth, are you ready to be a team player? As a travel nurse, you are coming into the mix of low staffing and high stress. All the staff members may not be super friendly or happy to have you on the unit. Stay positive and keep gratitude at the forefront. You are a nurse who happens to travel and can lighten their load.  

Fifth, travel nursing is a fast-moving industry. Therefore, you need to be prepared to interview and accept contracts in a timely fashion to secure the assignment (especially in competitive locations). 


Loneliness ranks at the top of the list in cons for travel nursing. It is away from family, friends, and all that is familiar. If you are an introvert, it can be even more difficult relocating to an unfamiliar area. Connect with coworkers for dinners out or weekend trips to local events or shopping areas. Review local areas of interest to visit on your days off. Join a local gym to meet new people and maintain healthy habits at the same time. 

Traveling logistics can be challenging. For example, if you are a home health nurse, you will need to drive your car to your new assignment. If you do not require a car, there will be flight arrangements and transportation to your new residence from the airport. In addition, there are frequent moves, packing and unpacking, and arranging for new places to live.  

The monetary compensation with each new assignment changes. Not every arrangement is the same. You will need to re-budget your income with each move. There are some tips and tricks to becoming a new travel nurse that can be found on travel websites. Are you ready to take the leap? There are some steps to take to set yourself up for success as a travel nurse before your first assignment.

Write a Fantastic Resume  

Your resume should include your full name, an email address, and the best phone number to contact you. The summary should include keywords that recruiters can focus on because they scan through multiple resumes daily. These keywords should highlight your experience in each specialty. 

Provide clear and precise details on your certifications and licenses with expiration dates. If your work history is a long one, you can still be succinct. Include the agency, facility, unit, dates, and a brief description of your job.  Your education needs to include the institution name and location, your degree, and your dates of attendance. You will want to list all the computer charting systems you have used previously.  If you are a “super-user” make sure to include this on your resume.  Listing your other skills will set you apart from applicants. For example, are you a wound care certified nurse, hospice certified, or a PICC line insertion certified nurse? You want to make your resume show how you stand out compared with other applicants.  

Find a travel agency

Finding a travel agency that fits your needs will lead you to success. Make sure the travel agency supplies the basics of traveling for free. These basics include free housing or a stipend, health and dental insurance, a retirement plan, travel reimbursement, 24-hour customer access, and an abundance of nursing job options. Questions to ask during your interview:

Remember, the facility is not only interviewing you, but you are interviewing them for compatibility:

·      How long is orientation?

·      Will you need to float?

·      What color scrubs will you need?

·      What is the charting system used?

·      What is the nurse to patient ratio?

·      What is the holiday and weekend rotation, if included in your contract?

·      Is there an opportunity to extend the assignment?

·      Where are the best and safest places to live?

Congratulations! You have passed the Travel Nurse Academy 101! Want to take more courses and learn more? Sign up for our entire Travel Nurse Academy course. In the meantime, get out there and start your travel nursing career.  

Author Bio:

Susan Kilbourn owns Kilbourn Word Slinger and is a nurse with 29 years of experience.

Health Carousel Travel Nursing

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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!

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