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!