If you’re a nurse with a family, you might envision travel nursing as something only open to single people, or those with travel nursing partners. Even if you’re aware that it’s possible to embark on this exciting career and bring your loved ones along, you might think it would be far too stressful.
But the reality is, travel nursing offers the flexibility that allows one to bring the whole family and it’s totally doable, provided you do some planning ahead of time. In fact, there may be no better way to spend quality time with the ones you love in between assignments and shifts, exploring new places and creating shared memories.
Following these tips can help you kick off what’s likely to be a successful and rewarding journey.
CONSIDER MORE FAMILY-FRIENDLY DESTINATIONS
When chatting with your recruiter about potential destinations, consider options where you’ll feel safe bringing the whole family, ideally somewhere there are lots of fun things to do with the kids. Feeling comfortable in the area is key to success – if it offers lots of cultural attractions, historic sites and the like, the firsthand education the children will get can be invaluable. Of course, outdoor adventures and beautiful scenery are a great way to keep everyone happy and active too.
DISCUSS YOUR HOUSING NEEDS
It’s also important to talk to your recruiter about your family’s housing needs. While most travel nurse agencies provide furnished one-bedroom apartments or other similar accommodation for free, if you need more space, you can usually pay extra for additional bedrooms, or you might take a housing stipend and find your own place. Either way, be sure that it’s safe, secure and child-friendly.
Another option is to consider traveling in an RV, something that many travel nurses with families do. While it’s arguably best for those with smaller families due to size constraints, it brings the potential to save a significant amount of money as you can take the housing stipend and will probably have a good amount leftover, paying for the spot to park it and perhaps utilities. And, you won’t have to worry about all that packing and unpacking every few months – when the assignment is over, you’ll simply drive to the next destination.
If you’ll be traveling with young children on your own, or if your spouse/partner also plans to work and you don’t have extended family in the area to help, making childcare arrangements ahead of time is likely to be necessary. If so, be sure to plan well in advance. You might want to connect with nurses in the area to find out if they have recommendations and/or search online, conducting interviews over the phone. The important thing is to get your childcare needs set up before you arrive.
If the kids are of school age, you might want to focus on summer travel assignments, or consider homeschooling. There are many travel nurses who travel before their children are school-aged, but homeschooling year-round or taking your older kids on a summer road trip can work well too. Every time you head out for an assignment, you create an opportunity for education and fun by making stops along the way to visit landmarks and various attractions.
Can You Be a Traveling Nurse With a Family?
You can be a travel nurse with a family, but you will definitely need to make arrangements and plan far in advance. First and foremost, if you have children, you’ll have to prepare for schooling arrangements or be prepared to home school. Another important aspect is to plan for housing arrangements. If you have a family with multiple children, renting a one bedroom apartment might not be enough room for everyone to comfortably live. So you’ll most likely not be able to use the company provided housing and have to make your own accommodations.
Travel Nurse With a Family Pros and Cons:
Travel nursing with family can be exciting because you get to explore a new location every couple of months. However, there are also some cons to consider. Let’s review some pros and cons of accepting a travel nursing assignment and bringing along your family.
Many staff nurses choose to become travel nurses for the higher pay, schedule flexibility, and getting the opportunity to explore the country. As a travel nurse you will receive higher pay, which allows you to potentially save money. When you travel with family, it’s great because you get to explore new places together on your off days. Your family members will get to meet new friends and explore places with you. Your children will become more adaptable and get to experience different local flares and culture, an experience that can’t be taught in school.
Another perk is that you won’t be separated from your family if they travel with you and you’ll get to spend more time together. Many registered nurses choose not to become travel nurses because they don’t want to leave their family members behind for several months in a row. Also, more than likely, your travel nursing agency offers free or low cost healthcare benefits to you and your family.
There are some cons when it comes to bringing your family along as a travel nurse. First, if you have a spouse or significant other, it may be challenging to find employment opportunities. Unless they have a remote job or are a travel nurse themselves, it’s unlikely they will be able to travel along without changing jobs. While this is not impossible, consider this before accepting your assignment. Also, you will be working long shifts, so sometimes your significant other may feel lonely if they aren’t familiar with the area and haven’t met any new people.
Next, if you have a family with children, there are going to be a few challenges as well. First, you will need to research local schools. Changing schools sometimes can be difficult for children because they will leave their old friends behind. However, they will have the opportunity to make new ones just as easily. Since you’ll be working 12 hour shifts, you will need to also plan for childcare if you don’t have a significant other to help or both are working. You’ll also have to look into local doctors or dentists for primary care or emergencies. Finding housing can also be a challenge depending on the region, especially if you have a large family and need more space.
If you’re still weighing your options, here are more pros and cons of traveling with family.
Tips for Travel Nursing with Your Family
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and bring your family along with you to your next travel nursing job, there are a few items to consider. Some of these tips include:
Plan to drive
Considering the cost of travel and airfare these days, plan to drive to your new destination. This way you’ll save money on travel expenses and have your personal vehicle with you during your off days. If you’re driving across the country and start your new assignment within a few days, plan accordingly. You can plan your own way, but if you want to see certain attractions or are a family that needs to make several stops for bathroom breaks, take this into account.
Plan activities ahead of time as much as possible. This way, you and your family have things to look forward to on your off days. Activities can range from going to a family dinner or taking a day trip to a local theme park. If you need certain days off because of a holiday or someone’s birthday, tell your recruiter these days ahead of time so they can put them into your travel contract.
Research the area and weather and pack accordingly. Even if it’s expected to be a warmer location, always pack a light jacket and rain gear. There’s nothing worse than being underprepared. Besides clothing and toiletries, your packing list should also include electronics, games, or playing cards to keep everyone entertained. While these are great for the car ride, you never know when there may be a rainy indoor day during your travel assignment.
Join a travel nurse community
Believe it or not, there are several travel nursing communities and groups that travel nurses join. You can perform a quick Google search or lookup groups on Facebook or MeetUp. When traveling on assignment, many nurses have their families with them. By joining an online group, you may have the opportunity to meet a new family that does the same!
Being A Travel Nurse With A Family: Planning The Future Together
While there’s no single solution that’s right for all when it comes to travel nursing with family – the experience of exploring new cities and meeting new people is a great way for everyone to grow together, developing even closer bonds. Ask your recruiter at any time how you can start travel nursing with your family. There are plenty of options to explore to help you save money and spend time with family.