Believe it or not, nurses become “travel nurses” for many different reasons. And traveling isn’t always one of those reasons. You may have read the title of this post and thought… “Hmm… that’s odd. The word “travel” is included in the job title so what is she talking about?! But trust me, there are plenty of travel nurses out there who don’t take advantage of the “travel” part of travel nursing. I’m here to tell you why that’s a bad idea plus give you three reasons why you should travel if you’re a travel nurse!
Just to be clear, you can be a travel nurse for a plethora of reasons beyond the travel aspect of the job. On one hand, I’ve met nurses who strictly do it for the money. These nurses take no time off between contracts, powering through each assignment just to rake in the dough. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make money… but there is a little thing known as nurse burnout. By working back-to-back assignments, packing up, and moving every three months, burnout oftentimes happens at a quicker speed than if you were to take no time off as a staff nurse. This is because moving to a new city, getting to know a new hospital system and policies, plus meet the people you’re working with adds stress to an already stressful hospital environment.
On another hand, I’ve met nurses who become travel nurses to move to a new city permanently but just want to bring in extra money for the first few months. Again, nothing wrong with this either except why not take advantage of traveling at this stage in your life?! Perhaps you sign one or two contracts in the same city and in between assignments you get out and travel! When you make the switch to permanent staff, that’s when the time for responsibility comes in. So take advantage of being able to travel while you’re a travel nurse.
You see, I’m a big advocate of preventing nurse burnout and the way I choose to do so is by traveling! Getting out of the hospital, away from work responsibility, and discovering the world. And that is what I encourage other nurses to do! So below you’ll find three reasons why you should actually take advantage of the “travel” aspect of travel nursing.
Need a bit more help when it comes to planning your travels? For inspiration and guidance why not check out my “8 Day Vacay” series? Aimed to help nurses get away from the hospital (with no need to take PTO) and go on an 8-day vacation! If you’re currently on assignment and can’t travel right now, read 5 Ways to Cope As a Travel Nurse When You Can’t Travel.
1. Because you can
If you’re a travel nurse chances are your responsibilities are slim. You probably have no kids, no significant other, and maybe even no pets. So that means that you can take advantage of the travel aspect of this job. If you’re on the road you’ve probably already sold your house, sub-leased your apartment, and purged yourself of materialistic possessions. NOW is the time to take the weekend trip. To go abroad. To pop into the next town over to see what it’s like. Explore your new city, a new state, and even surrounding states! You may never get the chance to do this ever again. Take advantage while your responsibilities are slim and your options are endless!
Oh, and if you are traveling with kids, pets, or significant others, to me that just means that you’re already incredibly adventurous! I imagine you’re traveling with others in hopes to explore the world and take advantage of experiencing different cities. But just in case you aren’t, now is the time to start taking advantage of the travel part of travel nursing!
2. You have the income to do so
One of the biggest pros to travel nursing is the added income. And while some people become travel nurses to chip away at their student debt, save money to buy a house, or beef up their savings accounts… I’m here to tell you one truth. And that is… you can’t take money with you when you die.
Now that that’s off the table, isn’t it a relief? You cannot take your money with you. So instead save and spend! Instead of putting your entire paycheck away, put half away and save half for a vacation. (I am not suggesting you overspend or go into debt, be smart!)
The way I save for travel is this – I get my paycheck. I then take out 15% and put it into savings, pay off my credit card bill for the week, take out money for bills, and then put the rest into a “travel account”. If I know I have a particularly exciting week coming up with lots planned then maybe I don’t have the opportunity to put anything towards my travel account at that time, and that’s okay! By doing this every time I get a paycheck it’s easy for the money to add up. Then when I have the time to take a trip, I already have the funds to do so!
For more details on exactly how I save money to travel, check out – How I Save Money to Travel and Build a Hefty “Travel Savings” Each Year
3. You have the time off to do so
As travel nurses, we essentially have unlimited time off every single year. I highly encourage you to take advantage of that! It’s one of the other major things that sets us apart from being permanent staff. Since the beginning of 2019, I’ve taken four months off and have worked for eight months! And while we don’t earn PTO as travelers, we make enough that you should be able to go on vacation for a week (or more) and be able to cover your expenses. (See how I do it by looking above!). Don’t feel guilty taking time away from the hospital to take care of yourself.
Wanting to take an extended vacation? Read: 10 Affordable Countries Every Nurse Should Visit for ideas on where to plan your next trip!
Needless to say, I’m a big fan of travel. But guess what? Travel doesn’t have to be a fancy vacation. It doesn’t mean you are going to a new country. And it doesn’t even mean that you’ve left your city. Travel outside your backyard. Travel to new neighborhoods, new areas of town, and new restaurants! Take advantage of your time as a travel nurse to prevent burnout and enjoy the time you’re spending in the hospital.
Need further convincing as to why you should be traveling as a travel nurse? Read How to Maximize Travel While Being a Nurse.