Why Is Everyone Packing Up And Becoming A Travel Nurse?
By Kathleen Colduvell RN, BSN, BA, CBC
Nurses around the country have learned that travel nursing has many perks and benefits.
Travel nursing offers a chance to explore new places, experience diverse practice environments, and make new friends. Competitive pay, great benefits, and free housing are major reasons why nurses travel.
There are travel opportunities in all 50 states and these assignments can be 13 weeks or longer based on the needs of the facility. You can choose your assignments based on many factors, including:
- Professional opportunities
- Financial incentives
- Proximity to family and friends
- Checking out a location prior to a permanent move
- Leisure activities
- Compensation package (benefits, housing)
The pros to travel nursing are numerous. The most common reasons nurses travel are:
- Flexibility to work as much or as little as you want
- Exposure to different places and cultures
- Travel expenses reimbursed when moving from one contract to another
- Free or deeply discounted housing
- Higher Pay
- Fewer professional responsibilities
Job Opportunities In High Demand Locations
Hawaii and California are the number one travel nurse assignment requests, and the wait time can be longer for desirable locations.
Hawaii and California have low turnover rates, but with the increasing demand for healthcare, there are frequent staff shortages. Travel nurses are able to fill these voids.
If you’re flexible, you’ll increase your chances of landing a travel assignment. For example, if you’re set on traveling to California, consider a suburban hospital versus a large inner-city hospital.
Travel nurses also enjoy the job security of knowing there are assignments waiting across the U.S. when their current position ends.
Lower Cost of Living
Some leading travel nurse companies offer free private housing to their travel nurses. Taking a travel assignment means that many common living expenses are eliminated or decreased. Some companies even cover utilities and furniture. It’s important to discuss these options with a company representative.
With the high cost of living in some of the most desirable locations, cost of living benefits is a large factor in deciding on an assignment.
Adventure and Fulfilled Dreams
It’s important to pick a travel location that interests you. If you’re a backpacker and love to hike, consider locations that are known for access to the great outdoors. Or if you love the ocean, consider positions near the coast.
Traveling offers an opportunity to see new places and meet new people, and it also provides the chance to fulfill dreams. A travel assignment can pay you very well to live in a place that’s on your bucket list.
Travel contracts range anywhere from four weeks to a full year, and the typical contract is 13 weeks. Even if a contract is only listed for 13 weeks, most hospitals offer extensions.
Travel nursing provides the ability to work for 13 weeks and then take time off for vacation or visiting family. Ultimately, you have complete control over deciding when and where you work.
The more flexible you are, the greater number of travel assignments are possible. It’s okay to be selective, but it might not always be possible to get your top travel location, so having a backup plan is smart.
Permanent staff nurses may experience burnout over the course of their career. Travel nursing helps you avoid that feeling of being stuck in a job that isn’t working out.
Travel nurses don’t have the same responsibilities as staff nurses. You won’t have to join hospital committees or obtain additional certifications as part of your job. In this way, you get to focus on patient care and being the best nurse you can be without the complications of hospital politics.
The pay for a typical assignment for a travel nurse is usually more than that of a staff nurse in the same location. The majority of your travel salary is tax-free because you’re traveling more than 50 miles from home. Hourly wages are usually not negotiable, but bonuses and benefits can be.
There are many reasons that nurses choose to pack their bags and travel. Some do it for adventure, others for the clinical experience or money, and still others for the freedom and the chance to see the world.
Travel nursing provides adventure, reliably competitive income, and the flexibility to be the nurse you want to be in the places that call your name.
Where Are The Best Travel Nursing Job Opportunities?
High-paying nursing opportunities abound. As a skilled registered nurse, you are in control of your career. Check out the best jobs from coast to coast on our job board. Get the pay and career path you deserve. Click here to apply to open positions for travel nurses now.
Next Up: How To Care For Patients From Different Cultures
Kathleen Colduvell RN, BSN, BA, CBC graduated with a degree in English and Journalism before going back to school and getting her nursing degree from Villanova University. She now works at one of the leading children's hospitals in the country in the NICU, PICU, and CICU, as well as working as a Certified Breastfeeding Consultant.
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