I was first bit with the travel bug in college. While I hadn’t traveled much at the time, I found myself in class daydreaming of far-off places that I had only seen in the movies. Very quickly, I realized that travels don’t fund themselves, and to live the life I wanted (jumping from one vacation to the next), I would need a job to fund my dreams of traveling. So I set off on searching for a career that would allow me to maximize travel while working…
Why Nursing is the Perfect Career if You Love to Travel
As my search for a career that would allow me to travel began, I realized that most careers were tied to a desk. Working Monday-Friday, 9-5. It wasn’t until I was a senior in college, about to graduate, that I came across nursing. Quickly, I realized that I had a passion for helping others, excelled in science courses, and that a nursing schedule was exactly what I was looking for to be able to travel. Now, I could easily live out my dreams of frequently being able to travel!
Read more: Having My RN, BSN Has Allowed Me to…
Nurses Get 8 Days Off in a Row
One of the biggest perks of being a nurse is the schedule. While there are exceptions, typically, nurses work three days a week, in 12-hour shifts. Most hospitals allow the flexibility for nurses to make their own schedules with the ability to stack shifts. This means that if you self-schedule, you could give yourself 8 days off in a row with no need to take paid time off (PTO)! To do this you would schedule yourself to work Sunday-Monday-Tuesday of week one; and Thursday-Friday-Saturday of week two.
To top it off, taking these eight days off doesn’t include the allotted PTO that nurses earn. Each hospital differs, but typically you can earn an average of 12 days off in one year; (one day per month). If you are planning on going abroad, but don’t think eight days is long enough, you could take one or two days of PTO. You don’t have to take an entire week off (three shifts), to leave the United States. For example – if you take two days of PTO, on week one you might work on Sunday, and on week two you will work Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Instead of eight days off, you now have 10 days off by using two days of PTO.
To maximize your eight days off, make sure to check out my series – The 8 Day Vacay, to get ideas on where to head for your next vacation! Or read 10 Countries Every Nurse Should Visit (Even if You Don’t Have PTO)
You Can Become a Travel Nurse
If you crave even more than eight days of vacation then you may want to consider travel nursing. Usually, travel nurses sign a 13-week contract anywhere across the United States. Not only do you get 13 weeks to explore places within the US and outlying territories, but you also get unlimited time off in between your contracts. If you’re feeling burned out, take one, two, or even 10-weeks off between contracts!
In 2018, I had moved from one travel nurse contract to the next without taking any time off. I quickly burned out and decided to take a 17-week trip around Europe and Southeast Asia. If it weren’t for travel nursing, that wouldn’t have been possible!
For tips on how to land your dream travel nurse position read: 4 Common Travel Nurse Interview Questions, Plus How to Nail Your Interview
For more inspiration on becoming a travel nurse read: The Ultimate Travel Nurse Bucket List – 10 Experiences to Have As a Travel Nurse
You Can Become a Volunteer Nurse
The third way to leverage nursing into travel is to volunteer. In 2017 I landed a volunteer position with Project Hope in Macedonia. I volunteered at the Children’s Hospital of Skopje from Monday-Friday, and explored on the weekends! Before I knew it I had used my career in nursing to visit eight countries in 10 weeks!
Not only does volunteer nursing push you out of your comfort zone by having to use your skills in knowledge in a different part of the world where resources are scarce, but you also get a unique opportunity to meet locals and see how the country operates as a local versus a tourist. Oftentimes volunteer nursing is for a long period of time so you get a chance to really get to know a country and the culture.
The bottom line is, you have to find what you’re passionate about and do that thing. If you love to travel but you hate blood and service, then nursing isn’t for you. I was lucky enough to find a career that I love and find a way to make the most out of it to travel the world. Nursing is a hard, but rewarding profession. It’s essential to remember to take care of yourself and take as much time off as you need so that you can best serve your patients.
Are you a nurse wanting to plan a vacation? Read: 10 Affordable Countries Every Nurse Should Visit