Where Do Travel Nurses Go? How Travel Nursing Works

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
August 24, 2022
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With today’s nursing shortages, travel nurses take short-term, temporary travel nursing jobs in different parts of the country where there are staffing shortages. Travel nurses don't work for the hospital; instead, they work for independent healthcare staffing agencies to find jobs in areas where they are most needed. Some types of travel nurses are more in demand than others, but any registered nurse that graduated from an accredited nursing school, with a valid license and at least two years of experience can apply to be a travel nurse. We have found jobs for thousands of skilled nurses all over the country, and we can do the same for you. Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

Demand for travel nurses has grown at a very fast rate. In 2020, it went up by 35%, and in 2021, it's expected to go up by another 40%. A review from Dall'Ora et al looked at nurse burnout. In short, they found that nursing burnout was linked to negative job experiences, such as a high workload, low staffing levels, long shifts, and lack of control over the work environment. They also said they found the need for more research on the link between turnover and burnout, though it may not be all that hard to see the link.  It is worth noting that the studies used in the review were done before the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As COVID-19 moves into its third year, there is a global nursing shortage and nurse retention is only getting worse. Many nurses are tired of their jobs and leaving the field completely or taking jobs that aren't as demanding outside of hospitals. Others are staying in the field, but they are leaving their staff positions in hospitals and moving to work for travel nursing agencies, which offer them short-term contracts with better pay.

With that being said, there are hundreds of healthcare facilities that need to hire travel nurses. Recruiters are in need of finding skilled nurses to fill vacant positions, and to fill future nursing jobs that they know will become available. To become a travel nurse you can work with our team and select a travel nursing assignment that is right for you.

How Do Travel Nursing Assignments Work?

Once you sign up with Health Carousel Travel Nursing, you will be connected with a knowledgeable recruiter that will help guide you through the process. Your assigned recruiter will answer all of your questions and help calm any concerns. The agency will have you upload your resume, certifications, and other important documents.

When you sign up, you will then be able to look at all of the available travel nurse jobs that are available within your specialty and desired locations. You can also view the pay packages and specific logistics for the specific assignments. Your recruiter will be able to answer any questions you have regarding the different job options.  

If you see something that interests you, express interest in the position. A job application will be filled out and your profile will be sent to the facility. If it is determined that you are a good fit for the job, an interview will be scheduled.

When you are offered a position, or several positions, you can discuss the offers with your recruiter to help determine what job is the best fit for you. When you decide to take a position, you will sign a contract and begin the credentialing process. During this process you will work with your recruiter to make sure all facility deadlines are met.

Then it is time to HIT THE ROAD!

Can Travel Nurses Choose Where They Go?

Yes, travel nurses can choose where they go! You can pick the healthcare setting, hospital, and the location. Travel nurse agencies want to make sure you are confident where you are working when you go on assignment. Chances are if you are currently working on a telemetry unit in a hospital, your travel assignment will be on a telemetry unit in a hospital. This could be the same situation if you are working in the recovery room in an outpatient surgery center, the ideal place for you to work would be in the recovery room in an outpatient surgery center.

The great thing about travel nursing is location, location, location!  Where you go is up to you... The need for nurses is so high right now that it isn’t hard to find the perfect spot for you. Choose Utah or Colorado in the winter to get in some skiing. Or if you don’t like the cold, you can go to Florida or San Diego. Hawaii is always a good idea!

Working with Travel Nurse Agencies

Working with a travel nurse agency is a great way to take your hard-earned knowledge to a different setting and to different regions throughout the United States. Hospitals are looking for skilled nurses to fill positions in many different areas of expertise. You will be able to find positions as a hospice nurse or as a nurse that works in radiology procedures. 

Did you know speed matters when submitting your application? Don't miss out on your dream job because you were 'too slow'. When you travel with us, you'll be submitted faster than your peers so you can be first in line for an interview. Get started taking control of your career today in On Demand.

Your dedicated recruiter will be in charge of locating your travel nursing jobs and contracts, but they also work to advance your career. Partner with them to enable rapid speed to top offers. Our goal is to help you succeed in any position you accept, from career and resume coaching to interview support and more.

Whether you're a recent graduate looking for your first travel nursing job or an experienced nurse trying to relaunch your career, we are here for you and are excited about the chance to help you succeed. With our recruiters, you can be open and honest about your objectives. They'll put forth endless effort to get you a job that advances your career.

How Far Might You Have to Go For a Travel Nursing Assignment?

Travel nursing assignments can be local to your home or far enough away from your permanent residence to be considered an unreasonable commuting distance. If it is a local contract assignment you will get a higher rate of pay than staff nurses, but you would not benefit from the stipends that agencies offer for traveling away from your home. Learn how you can become a local travel nurse.

Working as a travel nurse in your home state and even your hometown is always a great option. You can take a temporary job as a local travel nurse. This could be at a hospital close to where you live, depending on your current needs. With this opportunity, you can enjoy all the benefits of travel nursing, including higher compensation, greater flexibility, and different career choices.

Working as a travel nurse in your immediate area also enables you to examine nearby hospitals and their operations. This allows you to check out several hospitals and decide where you could potentially work as a permanent staff nurse if you wanted to take that route. With travel nursing, you're in control of choosing your ideal position!

Like anything else, working locally has advantages and disadvantages.

Among the benefits are:

  • After your work day, you can return to your home and family.
  • you will receive higher wages for the same number of hours and the same type of work.
  • You can determine the length of your contract and whether or not you would like to renew your contract.
  • Hospitals offer short-term commitments that are typically 13 weeks duration.
  • If you choose, you can decide to stay at a certain institution for up to a year as a travel nurse.

Cons include, among others:

  • You might have a lengthier commute for some jobs.
  • You will be unfamiliar with your new hospital upon starting.

To find out if local travel nursing is for you, create your own list of advantages and disadvantages. Many staff nurses feel underpaid, overworked, and dissatisfied. You have options with travel nursing that some nurses may only imagine.

How Much Do Travel Nurses Get Paid?

Travel nurse salary varies from location, specialty and need. As you look through different assignments you can see what the salary and benefits are for that specific assignment. 

Most agencies pay on a weekly basis, so you might see how much the pay is for a week of work. Discuss with your recruiter what that actually includes. Does it include your housing stipend? Is that pay for 36 hours per week or 48 hours per week?

Positions for emergent needs probably get paid the highest weekly wage. Be sure to review the contract carefully though -   that higher wage might be working five - twelve hour shifts per week. Also, if it is an emergent need, it is likely the unit will be short staffed and have high acuity patients. There are a lot of things to take into consideration.

The average pay ranges from $39 per hour to $56 per hour, which depends on what state you travel to. Pay is varied depending on need and cost of living in specific communities where facilities are located. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a Registered Nurse in 2021 was $77,600 per year, while travel nurses can make on average approximately $109,187 per year.

Where Do Travel Nurses Live?

The agency usually provides short term housing or a housing stipend, where you can choose your own housing. Your recruiter will be able to help you find the right options for you and your situation.  

When making plans to take an assignment, you will need to take into consideration if you are traveling alone, with your pet, or with your family. Travel nurses live in hotels, condominiums - even an RV. There is a large community of travel nurses that you can find online or on social media.

Health Carousel wants to make sure housing is at the bottom of your list of concerns. They have a team waiting to help you find housing that will fit your needs during your travel assignments.  The Travel & Housing Department at Health Carousel is prepared to give valuable housing advice, make housing arrangements for you, offer special hotel and rental car discounts, respond to inquiries, and more. 

If you choose not to use Health Carousel’s amazing team to make arrangements for your housing, you will be provided with a housing stipend. Other housing options you might want to consider are:  

  • Stay with friends or relatives
  • Getting a short-term rental through Airbnb or and extended stay hotel

How Long Do Travel Nurse Assignments Usually Last?

The average length of a travel contract is 13 weeks, but travel assignments can last anywhere from two to twenty-six weeks. Most agencies are looking for nurses to work on 13-week contracts, which is also what most hospitals prefer. Even though this is the norm, a nurse's shifts and hours can vary a lot from one job to the next.

Most contracts are for 13 weeks for a number of different reasons. Healthcare facilities like it because orientation and onboarding for new nurses can take anywhere from four to twelve weeks. This means that travel nurses can cover for new, full-time nurses while they get used to their new jobs. Housing is another reason. Standard apartment leases for 13 weeks are easier to find than leases for shorter periods. This makes it easier for nurses who want to find their own housing and for agencies that find housing for their nurses.

As times have changed, so have staffing needs, technology, and ways of living. This has made some travel contracts more flexible. For example, the rise of online marketplaces for vacation rentals like Airbnb has made it easier for nurses to find their own housing. They no longer have to sign 13-week contracts for apartments or other housing.

There are sometimes contracts that last only four to six weeks. For example, a hospital may need a temporary nurse for a short time if someone is out on short-term disability. If a nurse wants to work for a shorter amount of time, they should notify their recruiter to keep an eye out for unique opportunities.

Can Travel Nurses Choose To Stay?

Travel nurses can stay in one state for as long as they want. But to get tax-free stipends, a travel nurse can't stay in the same place for more than 12 months in a 24-month period. This is because of the one-year rule that the IRS has for travel nurses. A traveling nurse must also have a permanent home address in order to keep getting valuable tax breaks.

You must set up a travel nurse tax home in order to get the tax-free benefits that come with travel assignments. You can get money that isn't taxed for expenses you paid for while working away from your tax home. 

In general, your tax home is where your main business or job is, no matter where you live with your family. If you and your family live in Portland, but you work in Denver, where you stay in a hotel and eat out, but go home to Portland on the weekends, Denver is your tax home. You can't count travel, food, or lodging as part of the cost of living in Denver. The expenses you pay to visit your family in Portland on the weekends are not work-related, so you can't write them off. Even if a person works in more than one place, their tax home is the general area where their main place of business or employment is

If you do choose to stay, you could take a staff nurse position in the area where you would lose the benefits of being a travel nurse. Or, you could take a local contract where you might receive some benefits but would lose the tax benefits of travel nursing

Explore Your Options With Health Carousel Travel Nursing

The demand for travel nurses is only growing, and there are different options to take advantage of. On our website you will see a variety of travel nursing jobs for you to select the perfect travel nursing assignment. Depending on your specialty or level of experience, the shifts you're offered might be different. Will you work in 8-hour shifts or 12-hour shifts? Will you be working days or nights? Healthcare facilities are looking for registered nurses, and are hiring travel nurses to fill their open positions. 

Working with your recruiter to find the best fit for you is important. The recruiter will make sure you understand all of the unique things about travel nursing and help you select the best travel nurse assignment. Each assignment is different, and your recruiter will point out any differences. Most importantly, your recruiter will figure out what's most important to you and work with that, whether it's money, location, or both.

Contact us to learn more about how you can become a travel nurse. We would love to talk and help you with your next adventure!

Author Bio

Kelli Cotton, MSN, RN

Kelli has been working as a registered nurse for almost 20 years. Specializing in adult and geriatric care, working bedside in a Level I Trauma Intensive Care, Cardiac and Surgical Recovery. Currently, Kelli is working in palliative care. Kelli’s passion lies in teaching her patients about their disease processes and how they can benefit from dietary and lifestyle changes.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand

Get Started Now


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand

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!

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