Being a travel nurse has its advantages. But while it sounds fun, the perks of travel nursing have their ups and downs. If you love traveling and nursing, becoming a travel nurse is the best job for you! But what is a travel nurse, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of working as one?
As a travel nurse, you will be meeting a lot of people and going to different places. You will also work with other travel nurses and even meet some of the best healthcare workers along the way. Here’s what you need to know about this job.
What is a Travel Nurse?
There has been a nationwide shortage of nurses ever since the pandemic hit the world. Travel nursing is an appealing career option for nurses who wish to work and travel simultaneously. Typically, travel nurses are registered nurses with at least a year of clinical experience, working on short-term assignments for 8 to 13 weeks.
Travel nurses are usually in contract with agencies. The agencies are the ones responsible for assigning nurses to different facilities for work. Working hours also vary for travel nurses depending on the contract; some require 36 hours per week while others are flexible.
Some hospitals may require a BSN to qualify, but if you have an Associate of Science in Nursing degree, you are also fit to become a travel nurse as long as you pass the NCLEX exams. 
Perks of Travel Nursing: The Pros
Being a travel nurse is an exciting position! If you love traveling and do not want to be stuck in one place for work, then this is the job for you.
It is an adventure
Boredom is not an option for travel nursing. You get to see the entire country because this job will take you throughout 50 states. You can pick places where you can mix work and recreation too. For example, if you love hiking, trekking, and similar activities, you can choose to work in states like Colorado, Washington, Utah, and many others.
Personal and professional flexibility
Besides the adventure, you will also enjoy the flexibility of this work. There is a sense of freedom in this line of profession. You get to choose where to work, the hours you put in, and go to places where you can visit friends and family. Since you are working with recruitment agencies, you have access to see which schedule works best for you and choose the right salary and benefits to go with it.
Nurses working in this field are well-compensated. A travel nurse can earn $35-$56 per hour, depending on which part of the country they are working in. There is also compensation for travel nurses that are working overtime as well as other incentives.
You’ll meet different kinds of people and learn new skills
One of the best perks of travel nursing is that you get to meet different kinds of people. You will also work with healthcare professionals in various states in the country, so you get the opportunity to learn from them. Keep in mind that each health care facility you come across has different health care practices. It is your job to work in every position and explore the parts of nursing that you would love to do.
Avoiding hospital politics and burnout
Unlike other nurses who choose to work in a permanent setting, travel nurses won’t have to deal with hospital politics that go around a hospital setting. Being a nurse is stressful, including being uncooperative, and tension among staff can burn you out quickly. If you don’t wish to settle in this kind of setup, being a travel nurse is the revival you need in your career.
You get to help those who need it most
As a nurse, you have a vital role in the health care system, and your job impacts the lives of your patients. Becoming a travel nurse allows you to work in areas where health care is not easily accessible and extend help to those who desperately need it. You will be in the front lines of care where you can see the fruits of your labor.
Perks of Travel Nursing: The Cons
There are good sides to travel nursing and bad ones too. To weigh in if travel nursing is the right job for you, identifying the disadvantages of it will help you decide whether to pursue this career or not.
As a travel nurse, you must have a license to work. You must pass the NCLEX exams and obtain a license to practice. Most of the time, different states in the country require various requirements for a travel nurse to work. If you wish to work as a travel nurse, you must plan before accepting the job. In case you don’t have a license yet, you must apply for one on your own. Additionally, if you want to work in hospital areas like Operating Room, ICU, and others, other requirements are also needed to qualify for the position. It is best to inquire about these requirements in advance to avoid cramming at the last minute.
Although there are plenty of jobs for travel nurses across the country, one of the downsides of this job is that the pay varies. Each time you sign a contract, agencies will provide you with an allowance, transportation, and even an apartment to stay in during the duration of your contract. However, some will not provide you with everything. You must always have a budget plan while under a contract with a nurse recruiter.
Traveling is tiring
Some people genuinely enjoy the thought of traveling, but if you are traveling for work all time, this could also burn you out. Keep in mind that you are not just going to sit in a bus or airplane for traveling. You must also consider the amount of luggage to bring, your itinerary, insurance, time adjustments, and unfamiliar weather.
Time zones are also a killer; if you wish to work as a travel nurse in other countries. Not only that, but you must also adjust to the health care practices of the facility you will be working in for the next couple of weeks or months. Adapting to a new living space is also stressful; if you are used to living comfortably in your home, traveling for work gives you a sense of unfamiliarity. It’s one of those perks of travel nursing that isn’t so nice to deal with.
Traveling for work is fun, gets you out of boredom, and you get to see new people. However, there’s a sense of loneliness when you are new to the workplace. You don’t get to be friends with people right away, and you find yourself doing the same routine with the hopes of ending the contract right away. You also battle homesickness, especially if you are working in a different country. Even if you are a nurse with no dependents, being away from home for extended periods can be trying.
Can’t gain career advancement
There’s always that possibility of not gaining a level up in your nursing career. Compared to staff nurses who work in one area, travel nurses do not have the opportunity to move up with the ranks and become senior staff members. And unlike senior staff nurses, travel nurses are often called to places when agencies request them to go. In short, travel nurses cannot pick their schedule and work fewer on weekends compared to other nurses with more advanced ranks.
Is travel nursing for you?
If you love traveling and have the spirit for new adventures as a nurse, then travel nursing is the best job for you! The perks of travel nursing are great, don’t be afraid to grab the opportunity. Make sure to research before accepting a job offer. Weighing the pros and cons of travel nursing can help in your decisions as well. Remember, the chance of gaining new experiences and learning about yourself in the process are all part of this adventure, don’t miss out on it!
Traveling affects your mental health in so many ways. That is why traveling every once in a while is a good idea to relax and recharge ourselves.
It’s not a secret that many of us spend a significant amount of time in our jobs. Whether you enjoy your job or not, it’s crucial to take a break. Spend time with yourself, and making sure that your mental health is good should always be your priority. Besides, who doesn’t want to travel and see places? I know I do!
Traveling, meeting people, learning about different cultures, and eating new food is a refreshing experience! And if you haven’t traveled yet, this is a sign to do that.
Many people are unaware, but traveling can have a good impact on your mental health. This article will explore how traveling affects your mental health, how it helps your mind, and get you on track even if you are on the road. Read on for more!
Why Should You Plan a Trip and Travel?
With the covid still looming, the chances of traveling out of the country are slim, but you can still find a way to travel locally and across the country. There are many reasons why you should plan a trip and travel. For one, planning makes the experience more enjoyable.
Taking time to research your destination and book flights will also save you time and money. Traveling allows you to discover and explore new places, people, cultures. It can be a way of gaining knowledge about things that are unfamiliar or even unknown back home. It also helps break down the differences of each people by showing the commonalities as human beings regardless of our backgrounds.
9 Reasons to Travel for Your Mental Health
Of course, traveling is exciting and exhausting, BUT there are more pros than cons to it. Not only does traveling get you to see different places and experience all cultures, but it also plays a role in improving your mental health. Here’s how your mental health benefits from traveling.
1. Travelings lets you experience new things
When you travel, you get to be in a new environment, far from your comfort zone. It gives you the chance to experience new places, meet new people and even do new activities! It makes you understand people better, improve your tolerance, and reduce biases. In return, it reduces your frustration in understanding how other people are or how their culture works!
2. Traveling allows you to de-stress
Have you ever met a friend who just came back after a holiday or traveling? Notice how they have that certain excitement and glow? As funny as it sounds but traveling allows you to de-stress. Going on a trip gives you a chance to stay away from stressful situations you might be dealing with in your workplace. Seeing beautiful scenarios, taking pictures, and breathing fresh air are all helpful in relieving stress, simple as they are.
3. Traveling allows you to see a different perspective about life
Ever felt like you are trapped in your 9-5 job? If you do, then travel! Traveling gives you the chance to see other people from different cultures and learn from them by spending time within their midst. Whether it’s learning a recipe in Mexico, the art history of Spain, traveling by tuk-tuk in India, or lounging in a hammock by a beach in the Philippines, learning from its people, and seeing a new way of living is refreshing to the soul! It also gives you the chance to sit back, relax and reflect on your life. Seeing and learning new things from different cultures gives you a bigger view of life.
4. Traveling teaches resiliency
When you travel, you will find yourself in not-so-comfortable situations. For example, if you want to work as a travel nurse, you will be in situations that are beyond your comfort zone. So traveling often teaches you to be resilient in different ways.
Traveling is not always about going to the spa or spending time at the beach. Instead, it will teach you to navigate your way into unfamiliar streets, budget your money, and even learn a different language. Traveling teaches you what to do and not to do when you are out there. It teaches you how to get the best deals or make a good bargain.
Generally, traveling allows you to think of quick solutions to enjoy your time. Yes, it can be stressful or scary when you think about it, but you will not learn the gems of traveling if you don’t try, right?
5. Traveling boosts your creativity
Have you felt like you cannot do anything creative? If you are an artist or into creative arts but can’t get anything artsy done, travel! Allowing yourself to experience different cultures opens up your mind and inspires you to be creative. It also improves the neuroplasticity of your brain and increases your creativity in the process – this goes to show how traveling affects your mental health. It makes you more creative!
6. Traveling allows you to reconnect with yourself
Self-love is the highest form of self-care, and traveling is a form of self-care. When you travel, you are separating yourself from your usual routine. You also separate yourself from the stress that caused you to neglect yourself. When you travel, you are meeting your old self again. It’s during this time that you can reassess, reflect, and reinvent yourself. It also teaches you to look beyond the horizon and realize all the possibilities you can achieve in life.
7. Traveling increases productivity
Working all the time can drain you mentally and physically. When this happens, your productivity decreases. According to Harvard Business Review, traveling helps increase your productivity. That said, it’s crucial to make use of those vacation days! Go, take a leave, and travel. Not only will it help increase your productivity, but it also allows you to reset, refresh, and improve your overall mental health.
8. Traveling helps you stay fit
As you travel to different parts of the state (or world), you will be doing a lot of walking and even running. Studies proved that physical exercises help boost the production of serotonin, which helps in elevating your moods. Traveling offers you the opportunity to do plenty of physical activities like hiking, trekking, camping, swimming, kayaking, and many others. Plus, seeing beautiful sceneries while traveling gives you more energy!
9. Traveling with people you love helps you meet your need for love and belongingness
We all need to belong and be loved, and according to Maslow’s hierarchy of psychological conditions, these are important for our well-being. Traveling with your loved ones is one of the ways that you can meet this need. Through shared experiences and bonding, you will feel that sense of belongingness.
Book That Trip!
The pandemic limited our options to travel out of the country, but don’t worry, you can still travel in different parts of the states as long as you follow the health protocols required. If you haven’t thought about traveling, do it now. It’s not too late to check traveling off your bucket list! Besides, what’s good for your body is also good for your mind, and traveling offers both. You will be surprised at how traveling affects your mental health once you are there. So book that trip, and enjoy a good getaway!
Travel Nursing: Housing, Travel, and Transportation
When you accept your travel nursing assignment, you’ll have to establish your housing, transportation, and travel needs. If you decide to find your own housing, you’re in for a real project. You’ll need to figure out where you want to live, how you’ll get there, and what you’ll be doing there.
When looking to find a home for your travel nursing assignment, there are many things to consider.
- Proximity to the job. You’ll run into a lot of homes and condos that are available to rent or lease. The first question that arises is: how long and far are you willing to drive? If you wish to stay closer to the facility, you’re going to limit yourself. And that’s fine.
- Proximity to activities. If you accepted a travel nursing contract in a location you want to explore, this might be a deciding factor for you. Did you accept the contract because you also wanted a mini-vacation? Then you should be okay with driving a greater distance to work. It will expand your options. Live by the beach if you want to try water activities, or near a major city to enjoy its museums and nightlife.
- Cost. This will be the major factor in your decision on where to live. Do a cost analysis to make sure the place you want to stay is within your budget. Your goal as a travel nurse is to not only enjoy the assignment but also make money. Make sure you can both save and enjoy your hobbies. Remember to check whether the lease covers utilities.
- Necessities. You also have to think about your necessities. What are the things you must have? For example, when we took on a travel nursing contract, we needed either a pool or a hot tub. Maybe you want to be near a specific park, stadium, or peer.
It’s accurate to say that since you’re taking on a travel nursing contract, you’re either into traveling or you want to make more money. It’s always beneficial to get an idea of what you want to do or visit. You may only be in that area for the duration of your contract, and you may never return. You want to make the best of your travels. The quickest way to learn about a city is to look it up and discover the most popular places to visit. From there, you can meet locals and learn what they enjoy doing in that city. Your coworkers will be a great resource. They’ll know where everything is, the best places to get brunch, the trails with the highest points, where to see a waterfall, and which parks are the best. What finds it helpful to devote one day a week to an activity. You should also make a schedule for when to do activities, as well as a list of the activities you want to do.
Now you need to consider how you’re going to get to the place you’ll be living in. You have two options.
- Drive your car. This is the least costly method. Consider how long your drive will be and how much you’ll pay for gas. You also need to consider all the miles you’ll be putting on your car if you travel far away. The other key point about driving is that you won’t be able to pack as many things, because you can only pack so much in your car. This is a great choice for someone who packs light and enjoys road trips.
- Ship your car and fly. This is a good idea when you don’t like being in a car for long periods of time. This option will also cost much more than driving. Shipping a car can cost over a thousand dollars, depending on the season. We recommend looking at different transportation companies and comparing their rates. Plane tickets can also be expensive, so shop around for a good price. This is the more comfortable route to with. When flying, you’re also going to be able to bring luggage with you – but remember, that costs too.
As a travel nurse, there are a lot of things to consider in terms of housing, travel, and transportation. Travel nursing takes preparation and planning. Make sure you devote sufficient time to research and communication so you’re satisfied with your decisions.
Travel nursing contract negotiation
The most important part of travel nursing
In travel nursing, contract negotiation is important, as it will determine the amount you get paid. Fight for yourself in these contract negotiations. You know your self-worth. The goal you should have in mind is a win-win situation for both the recruiter and you.
Nursing recruiters want to make a good commission, as the travel company has metrics in place to help them maintain their profit margins. But you’ll have some wiggle room. It depends on the situation. For example, see if they can provide higher compensation for a crisis assignment.
How is your money made in travel nursing?
So business is transacted between the hospital and the travel agency. All your compensation, benefits, and reimbursements will come from the Bill Rate. The bill rate is the amount the hospital pays the travel agency based on the hours worked by each contracted nurse.
Bill Rate: $100/hr
Nurse pay rate: $50/hr (company profit 50%)
This is generally corporately mandated and covers such things as the company executives, employee salary/benefits, and a defined profit margin that the company specifies. Let’s break down the components of the travel nursing contract negotiation:
6 components of Travel Nurse Contract Negotiations
We are rating these from the highest in importance to the lowest. Each plays a role in creating the best contract for you:
- Travel Reimbursement
- Licensing Reimbursement
Everyone should have a number in mind for this when negotiating, even in sales. This will also affect how much you’ll be taxed. You already know Uncle Sam loves your money. You should care less about reimbursements for travel and a higher hourly rate. You can generally cover extra costs from your weekly net pay and year-end tax benefits. Try to ask your recruiter for the lowest base pay possible, as this will be the taxed portion of your pay.
This is the untaxed part of your pay and it is where the money is made. Stipends are broken down into money for housing and food, known as a “per diem”. Since you are an employee working for a short time in another location for the company, tax-free benefits are given to you as compensation.
The IRS has developed an allowable per diem amount for each area of the country. This is the maximum allowable for meals, lodging, and expenses. For more information, visit the GSA.
Most of your stipends will be spent on housing. There are two ways to figure out the housing situation when it comes to travel nursing. The company can provide housing for you, they might take your stipend, or you can receive your stipend and arrange housing on your own. We prefer to find housing ourselves. If you can manage the extra responsibility, you may be able to make more money at the end of your contract by pocketing that extra housing money.
Sometimes, this is a huge deciding factor. If you want to be close to the ocean or a particular neighborhood, you might want to consider whether good housing is available in the contract location.
How important this is will depend on the lifestyle you choose as a travel nurse. If you just want to work your 36 hours and enjoy exploring your world, overtime won’t matter much. If you want to return to school and need some extra cash, this is an important negotiating point. From a business standpoint, any hours worked over and above the signed contract are simply a benefit (revenue) for the travel nurse agency. The standard overtime offered by some companies is time and half of your hourly rate. Try to negotiate a higher overtime rate. If they don’t give in, remind them that working overtime benefits both you and the travel company.
The entire trip to your travel nursing contract will not be covered. If you do receive a travel reimbursement, it will be a non-taxable income. I prefer not to have a travel reimbursement and just negotiate higher pay/stipends, as that will generate more money over the course of 13 weeks(+). The most common form is typically a flat-rate reimbursement involving travel to and from your contract. This can range anywhere from $250-500.
If you applied for a multi-license to travel to multiple locations, your agency will offer to pay those costs. Depending on the state, some costs can be costly. Ask your agency to reimburse you for all costs regarding licensing.
The decision-making process
You must understand your travel nursing contract. Remember, this is only a temporary job, so if you don’t think like things mid-contract, in 13 weeks you can renegotiate. Is this contract everything you wanted? Write down a list of pros and cons and make your decision. You might feel immense pressure – but with any big life event, change feels uncomfortable at first.
Review the written contract carefully, ask your recruiter for any contracts they might have. If you voiced concerns verbally and agreed to them, make sure they’re outlined on the contract. Once you sign the contract, there’s no going back. You will be held accountable to the terms of the contract. No matter how small the issue, if it’s something important to you, make certain it’s written into the contract.
A checklist of items to review before signing your travel nursing contract:
- Contract start and end dates
- An hourly base rate, holiday pay, overtime rates
- Guaranteed hours (36,48)
- Stipends (per diem)
- Cancellation allowed by hospital
- Penalties for call-offs (sickness)
- On-call requirements
- Travel reimbursement
- Floating policy
- Requested days off
Once the contract is negotiated and everything looks good, you’re ready to sign and begin your travel nursing experience. Best of luck!
Travel Nursing: How to Pack
When you’ve finally agreed to and signed your contract, you’re ready to physically move. There is a misconception about how hard it is to pack for your travel nursing assignment. Packing for your assignment is not a small task, since you’ll be moving the majority of your things with you.
What You Need to Bring
Travel Nurse Packing List
The first thing you need to do after signing your travel nursing contract is to create a list of things you need to pack. Here’s what to consider:
- Clothing and shoes
- Uniforms, work bag, work shoes
- Paperwork & portfolio
- Personal Care & luxury items
- First Aid & Medical items
For your travel nursing assignment, you’re going to need to create a portfolio of all your identification. If you don’t do this, it may be difficult to access them from a distance. These items include:
- Your birth certificate
- Social Security Card
- Insurance cards (auto, life, home, etc.)
- Passport (if applicable)
- Work Visa (if applicable)
- Health Information/prescriptions
When you’re packing for your travel nursing assignment, you will need the majority of your clothes, if not all. Imagine packing for a week-long vacation. Packing up for your travel nursing assignment is 4 times that amount. Here’s what to keep in mind before you pack:
- What climate are you going into? Make sure you look into the weather forecast for the location of your travel nursing assignment. You need to bring clothes that suit the weather. Chicago’s weather can fluctuate from 68 – 92 degrees during the warm months, and winters can fluctuate from 10 – -40 degrees. You need to know what climate you’re going to be in to have a good travel nursing experience.
- How many clothes are you going to take? You don’t realize how much clothing you have until you have to pack it all up. Take luggage with you on the plane or fill up your car with clothes. The best way to pack up your clothes is to use large bins that will fit in your car.
Houseware and Electronics
You can choose to live in a fully furnished place so you won’t need to transport the majority of your kitchen. If your abode isn’t furnished, take only the housewares you need, along with your favorite and most-used accessories. For example, few places have a crockpot.
Electronics are our most-used accessories. If you have a desktop computer, you’ll need to figure out how will it fit in your car. Laptops are always good because they enable you to work while you travel. You’ll also need your cellphone, chargers, Alexa, PS4, Xbox, HDMI cable(s), hairdryer, hair iron, and their cords.
Hobbies & Activities
Packing all your hobbies and activities for travel nursing will require some of your biggest cuts. Travel nursing is great, and you’ll find yourself doing a lot of new things. You may have to sacrifice your golfing equipment for the tennis rackets, and you might not be able to take your kayak or bike. The good thing is that you might be trying out new activities, especially if you’re moving to a different part of the US. The amount of stuff you take will depend on the size of your car and how much you can fit in it
Personal and Luxury Items
Remember, you’re also packing for you! Make sure you take things you really enjoy, such as your favorite purses, dresses, blanket, pillow, etc… But keep in mind that there’s a limit on how much you can transport.
Once you’ve packed it all up, there’s one more step before you can take on your travel nursing assignment. Go through your list one more time and make sure you took everything you’ll need. Remember to evaluate how well you packed when you reached your destination. Create a note of things you forgot and a list of things you rarely used. This way, you’ll be better prepared for your next contract.
Travel Nursing Hospital Interview(s)
After your recruiter finds you a contract, it’s time to wait for an interview call. Remember, you’re interviewing the facility as much as the facility is interviewing you. Asking the right questions will help you decide whether this contract is right for you. This is a good opportunity to ask yourself about the things you want to see in your unit.
Your travel nursing interview will be either directly with the unit manager or as a submission with a pre-recorded interview. We advise you to speak with the unit manager you’ll be working for. Some hospitals ask you to audio-record your answers, which may feel awkward at first. The good part is that you’ll be able to record your answers in the comfort of your own home.
Travel nurse interview questions you may be asked
- Can you describe a situation in which you handled a difficult patient?
- Are you capable of wise and fast decision-making? Please provide an example of this.
- Have you ever disagreed with a colleague over the management of a patient? How was this resolved?
- What changes have you contributed to establishing practices to improve patient care?
- Can you describe frustrations you have personally dealt with as an RN and how you resolved them?
- How do you manage stressful situations?
Travel nurse interview questions to ask
The following questions are provided to help you ask informed questions on the spot. This way, you’ll have a solid idea of what you’re getting into. You usually only get one chance to talk with the hospital before accepting the job.
- Scheduling – Can I work my shifts back-to-back? How far in advance is the schedule available?
- What is the staffing ratio?
- Is floating required? How often do travelers float?
- Who will be doing my schedule?
- How often is overtime available?
- What is the unit culture on day/night shift?
- Why do you have this position available – a recent turnover?
- What is the policy for breaks/lunch? Will someone be there to relieve me?
- What assistive staff is available on the unit? CNA’s, Unit secretary, transport, etc..
- What type of charting system is used?
- Has the hospital or unit used travelers before? Have any extended? How many travelers are in the facility currently?
- How frequent are unit meetings?
- What is the orientation process for travelers? Unit orientation hours? Will I receive an orientation on each unit I work in?
- Which units will I float between when the census is low?
If you have any questions regarding specific dates off, this is the time to ask them. If there is a consent to the dates off, make sure the approved time off is clearly documented in your contract. Before you submit your contract, you’re allowed to see your package. Don’t ask your facility about the travel contract package, as this will be negotiated with your recruiter. The hospital has a set bill rate between the facility and travel agency.