Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing: 5 Reasons Why Travel Nursing May Be For You

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You’ve heard some of the benefits that come from being a travel nurse. 

But is it really the right fit for you? Is there a way to find out without having to jump right in? 

In this guide, we’ll outline a few of the biggest pros and cons of travel nursing so you can feel confident in your decision making.

By the end, you’ll have learned about:

  • Travel nurse requirements
  • If you can choose your locations/assignments 
  • What benefits travel nurses have
  • A typical RN travel nurse salary
  • How you can become a travel nurse yourself

Table of Contents

 

What is Travel Nursing?

A travel nurse is an RN hired to work on a contract basis, typically for 13 weeks, to fill hospitals’ short-term staffing needs.

There is a multitude of reasons hospitals may have a need for a travel nurse, ranging from:

  • Seasonal staffing shortages 
  • Critical needs in certain specialties 
  • Crisis situations; ie. natural disasters, pandemics, etc. 

If there is a temporary rise in the patient population, or if a hospital is having a hard time finding the right RN for a certain unit, they also may look to supplement with a travel nurse.

Some hospitals may even plan for extra clinical support during flu season or during a technology upgrade. 

Travel nurses are a great resource for hospitals in meeting all of these short-term demands. 

Most travel nursing assignments last between 8 and 26 weeks with the majority of positions being offered for 13-week terms.

Is It Worth It To Be a Travel Nurse?

This will depend on:

  • Your lifestyle 
  • Your professional goals
  • What parts of your life you are flexible with and which are non-negotiable

There are many pros and cons of travel nursing, especially with Trusted Nurse Staffing, but you’ll need to weigh them out for yourself.

Travel Nurse Requirements

Those who…

  1. Have completed a diploma program
  2. Are a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) 
  3. Hold an Associates or Bachelor’s degree in nursing

…are eligible to become a travel nurse. 

Although typically, 1-2 years of nursing experience is required along with being a registered nurse (RN). 

Many travel nursing positions are in specialties that require intensive training, such as ICU and oncology, so additional certification credentials are often useful.

Nurses with training in specialty areas are often more in demand and can reap the benefits of higher pay and more opportunities for employment.

Pros and Cons of Being a Travel Nurse

Now that you’ve confirmed you qualify for travel nursing, it’s time to lay out the pros and cons.

From exploring a new city or state to the benefits and flexibility, becoming a travel nurse definitely has its perks.

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of living in a big city or are craving the quiet of small-town life. 

Travel nursing can help you achieve those personal dreams.

But it’s important to weigh the typical “cons”, too:

  • Are you prone to homesickness? 
  • Does managing the logistics of moving often give you anxiety?
  • How do you feel about working less-than-ideal shifts?

We’ll outline a few common pros and cons of being a travel nurse in the following section.

 

pros and cons of being a travel nurse

5 Travel Nursing Pros

It’s no secret that travel nursing offers some unique perks and “pros” compared to a career as a staff nurse.

From amazing benefits to a higher earning potential, your options for furthering your personal and professional life are abundant.

In the following sections, we’ll detail a few “pros” to travel nursing so you can get a better feel for the profession.

#1: Enjoy an Adventurous Lifestyle

Your ticket to…

  • A life in the big city
  • Resort living; or 
  • The peace and quiet of a small town

…could all start with your travel nursing career.

And let’s say after a 13-week assignment, you’re having a hard time finding new travel nurse jobs or are just ready for a change of pace.

Not to worry—you can easily pack your bags and move to a new location or facility that better fits your wants and needs.

Can Travel Nurses Choose Where They Go?

While you will always get the ultimate say in where you go as a travel nurse because you’ll be the one accepting or declining the assignment, your options are dictated by staffing needs.

Communicating desired locations with your staffing agency will give you the best bet at your dream assignment.

 

 

#2: High Earning Potential

Whether you’re trying to research the current travel pay rates to negotiate a higher salary or are still considering becoming a travel nurse, you’re trying to find the answer to the question:

“How much do travel nurses get paid?”

An RN travel nurse salary may vary depending on:

  • Specialties
  • Stipends 
  • Location
  • Shift 
  • Crisis Assignments
  • Urgency of the hiring facility
  • And more

So what does the pay range actually look like?

You could be looking at making between $35 to $50+ an hour. 

According to Glassdoor, the annual travel nurse salary for 2020 sits at $71,380.

ZipRecruiter, meanwhile, reported in October 2020 that the average annual pay for a Travel Nurse in the United States is $99,202 a year, with a monthly wage of $8,267, and an hourly wage of $47.69.

That’s a pretty wide range. 

We’ve gone over how specialties, location, and shift can all be major factors in how much you’re bringing in, you’re still wondering what type of travel nurse gets paid the most.

In short, specialties that require additional training or certifications tend to be the highest paying.

#3: Perks and Benefits

With TNS, travel nurses receive excellent benefits. 

While other nurse staffing companies offer stipends and allowances as incentives for their travel nurses, TNS goes above and beyond to take care of our nurses by offering:

  • A healthcare benefits package
  • License, certifications & CEU reimbursements
  • Loyalty program
  • Referral bonus plan
  • Priority job order bonus
  • Sign-on & completion bonus
  • And more

#4: Freedom and Flexibility

When you’re a travel nurse, your options for assignments are as big or as small as you want them to be.

If you’re into big city living, you can hop from San Francisco to New York to Chicago to Dallas.

Or if you’re looking for adventures in the great outdoors, you might look to go from Colorado to North Carolina to Montana. 

The list of examples goes on and on.

Travel nursing gives you the freedom to decide where you want to call home, and for how long.

Because you’re able to choose your different travel assignments, you’re also able to decide when to take time off.

As a regular RN, you’re limited by your vacation time, blackout periods, and the flexibility and availability of your fellow coworkers. 

But as a travel nurse, you have the flexibility to choose how much — and when — you want to work.

#5 Build Your Resume

With TNS, your selection of professional working environments range from:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Clinics
  • Outpatient facilities
  • Correctional facilities
  • Schools
  • Insurance companies
  • Homecare

Travel nursing is an excellent opportunity to network and develop your resume.

By being exposed to different healthcare environments and meeting different coworkers and patients, you can add elements to your resume you never would have been able to in a traditional staffed setting.

 

4 Travel Nursing Cons

  • Holidays away
  • Making new friends
  • The headache of re-licensure 
  • Overnight shifts 

It’s enough to make anyone second guess.

Read through these common “cons” of travel nursing to make sure none are deal-breakers for you and your career.

#1: Homesickness

Even though you do have the ultimate say in where you’ll be located because you can accept or decline any assignment, being away from home is pretty much a given.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I willing to be away from friends and family for months at a time?
  • Will spending holidays or weekends by myself in a new place be manageable?
  • How do I feel about exploring on my own?
  • Am I willing to try and make new friends every time I move?

Accepting this aspect of travel nursing is a big hurdle. 

While most other common “cons” of travel nursing are temporary (shifts, travel logistics, licensure), being away from home comes with the territory. 

If FaceTime calls with friends and family are good for you, you are one step closer to the world of travel nursing.

#2: Travel Logistics

Having a good travel nurse agency can help you adjust to travel logistics like:

  • Moving
  • Finding housing
  • Travel expenses 
  • And more

Choose a company that you feel confident will advocate on your behalf and do their part to help make each move as smooth as possible.

 

#3: May Need Multiple Nursing Licenses

Under the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), nurses can practice in other NLC states, without having to obtain additional licenses.

This facilitates the license reciprocity process and potentially speeds up the time to employment. 

There are currently 33 states participating in NLC, including: 

  • Idaho 
  • Utah 
  • Arizona 
  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • Colorado 
  • New Mexico 
  • Texas 
  • Oklahoma
  • North Dakota 
  • South Dakota 
  • Nebraska 
  • Kansas
  • Iowa 
  • Missouri 
  • Arkansas 
  • Louisiana
  • Wisconsin 
  • Mississippi 
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky 
  • Tennessee 
  • Alabama
  • Florida 
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina 
  • North Carolina 
  • Virginia 
  • West Virginia
  • Maryland 
  • Delaware 
  • New Hampshire
  • Maine 

However, if you are moving to a new assignment that is in one of the other 17 states in the U.S., you may need to apply for licensure by endorsement in your new state.

Your multistate license of the former NLC state would be changed to a single state license once you change your legal residency to a non-compact state.

#4: You May Have to Work Less Than Ideal Shifts

A lot of travel nurse assignments are designed to fill a need, like night and weekend shifts.

You could work this to your advantage if you’re looking to bring in a little (or a lot) more money.

Though it’s not always the case…

  • Nights
  • Variables; and
  • Weekends 

…may come with higher pay or shift differentials. 

Thinking about whether you’re willing to take on less than desirable shifts will help you see if life as a travel nurse is right for you.

Sound Intriguing? Complete Your Free Online Profile With Trusted Nurse Staffing Today

At TNS, you are viewed as an asset.

We acknowledge the challenges of working on the road, which is why you’ll enjoy…

  • The highest pay rates 
  • The best benefits packages in the industry

… when you become a traveling nurse with Trusted Nurse Staffing.

If you’re ready to start your adventure as a travel nurse, or even if you just want more information, fill out your free online profile and within 24 hours, you’ll be contacted by an account manager to review your goals and availability.

 

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