Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing
Updated: Feb 11, 2022
Pros as a Travel Nurse
Money- money is always a good thing. As a travel nurse, you are usually getting paid 2x-3x what you would make staying home. In 4 months, I made a little less than 100k. That was more than I made in a single year of work outside of travel nursing. If you plan your finances right, you can legit work half of the year and relax the other half if you choose to. If you are with a good company, you can get paid on your days off. An example of this is stand down. One company I worked for would give you 56 hours regardless of the hours you worked unless you work over 56, then you would get your hours worked; however, if you only worked 36, you would be paid for 56 hours per week.
Going to different places- Currently, I'm in CA. I love it! I was just in WI, and let me tell you, I was miserable. It was cold gloomy, and I wasn't a fan; however, traveling different places has allowed me to go places and see things that I probably would have never thought to go.
Meeting new people/network- If you are a people person or are trying to decide your next move, this is an excellent benefit for travel nurses. I worked with the Afghan population on a military base, and I loved it. I met so many doctors from around the world, I was able to network, and I kept in contact with them. I would say outside of money; this was one of my favorite reasons to travel.
Expanding on your skills- So, many places want you to know what you're doing before getting a contract. No one knows everything, so traveling with a team is good; however, it doesn't necessarily mean you will be working with that team. Even if it's one person, find that one nurse you can ask questions (this could be challenging, but we will discuss this under cons)
Decided your schedule- Often, you can choose your schedule, meaning the months you want to work; however, the days you work, unless negotiated, will usually be whatever the company needs.
Staging- Such a beautiful word. Lol! So staging is free money, meaning you legit sign in, and the rest of the day is yours. So, you're able to do whatever you want and get away and get paid to do this. I.e., I went on a TMZ tour and was compensated as I was touring.
Cons as a travel nurse
You're always the new person- Ugh, I hate being the new person; however, get used to this if you plan on traveling as a nurse. Make the best of it usually by day 2 or 3; you'll be a vet. Be yourself and know you have something to bring to the team. If not, you wouldn't be there in the first place.
You are usually living out of a suitcase- So this sucks; I don't care how you dissect this. Some places will tell you don't unpack; listen when they say this. If you are in a situation like this, you don't feel at ease due to not knowing if or when you will leave. Pack light meaning scrubs sneakers, and maybe a couple of clothes (I will get into this more in-depth on another post)
No transportation- Ugh, so if you get a good company or negotiate it, you can get transport; however, many companies have phased that out and now provide drivers to and from work, which is excellent, but you have to Uber or insta-cart for your needs. This can be nerve-wracking because I cannot rely on others to get me from point A to point B, and you spend a lot of money on transportation.
No benefits- So many of these travel companies offer no benefits, and honestly, I still make off better doing travel than traditional nursing with the increased pay for me. The last company I worked for charged me $700 per month for insurance, whereas I'm essentially a freelancer, and I provide myself insurance. I pay $400 per month. With that being said, I do not get paid PTO; however, if you are smart and you work for a company that does stand down (you get paid on your days off if you sign in), then you don't have to worry about that if you allocate your money and or time accordingly.
You usually have the worst assignment- I wish this weren't a thing because nurses should be ashamed of themselves for doing this to nurses. Get used to this, and if you do not know something, ask that one nurse I told you about earlier. Be prepared to get the worst of the worst. Treat your aids with respect because they can help make you or break you. 80% of states are at-will, meaning when nurses come to a state that treats them like shit, they're going to leave.
Taxes- Ugh, must we go there? Yes. I'm keeping this short and sweet because this can become a nightmare. Please keep track of the places you work, the states you worked in, and let a tax professional handle them. There's a lot more, but Kiss!
Food- Ugh, I'm so tired of eating out. I love to try different food; however, eating out every day and spend anywhere from $20-$50 daily to eat is nerve-wracking times. I bought me a toaster so I can make waffle, however if you are lucky you can get a room with a kitchenette
Staging- yes, staging is in both categories!
I like staging; who doesn't like getting paid an entire day of work just for signing their name. So staging is different from standing down. Stand down is where you are working, whereas in stage, you have to wait to be placed in a hotel (although you are in a hotel already, that's not where you will be staying. They Don't know where you will be either, so when they out you have to be prepared to go wherever they need you) you have to be ready to pack up and get on a plane if they need you to.
One of the mot important things a travel nurse needs to know is be safe. There are so many scam artist out there. Make sure you ask your recruiter any unanswered questions before you sign a contract.
Know your surroundings
Do not end your contract early and if for some reason you need to, give as much notice as possible.
Always carry one credit card, a lot of the hotels require it to be on file
CYA- read up on the board of nursing laws, what is done is CA is not done in NYC and vic versa.
Lastly know your rights, do not let agency's take advantage of you!