You have an itch to travel, but the long shifts at the hospital and those annoying vacation blackout periods make it harder for you to get away and experience new places.

Or maybe you have a friend who recently started travel nursing and all she does is brag about her growing bank account and the many perks that come with the job.

We get it. It’s natural to be curious about a different field and want to find out if the grass is truly greener on the other side. Many of the nurses who come to us for the first time have a lot of questions and we’re here to fill you in on everything.

So, exactly how does travel nursing work?

We’ll share what you need to know to plan your new career as a travel nurse and get started on that road as soon as today!



Table of Contents


how does a traveling nurse work


How Travel Nursing Works — Can Anyone Do It?

Travel nurses take on short-term, temporary positions across the nation to fill gaps where nursing shortages exist.

Rather than being employed by the healthcare facility, travel nurses use independent staffing agencies to seek and secure positions wherever they desire — or where it’s needed most.

While some nursing specialties are more highly sought after than others, any nurse whose licenses are in good standing and has typically at least two years of nursing experience can apply to be a travel nurse.

At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we have placed thousands of nurses in various positions across the country, and we can help you too.

Whether you’re interested in a high-demand, high-paying position or you’re looking for a destination location to enjoy a little R&R on your days off, we have positions available right now that could be a perfect fit for you.

Use our Pronto job search to find positions that interest you, and before you know it you’ll be an expert in how travel nurses work.


Can You Do Travel Nursing Without Experience?

No. If you’re hoping to collect your nursing diploma and certifications and then head out on your first travel nursing adventure, it doesn’t quite work like that. You’ll need some experience as a staff nurse before most staffing agencies will accept you.

The majority of travel nursing agencies will require a minimum of two years of experience in your specialty. This minimum may increase for specific specializations, such as the ICU or Labor and Delivery, in order to nurse in that field.


Can New Nurses Be Travel Nurses?

If you’ve recently graduated from nursing school and lack the required experience, you can still apply to travel nurse positions for future consideration as you gain bedside experience in the meantime. In situations of greater need, it’s possible that newer nurses may find positions.




How Does Travel Nursing Pay Work?

Let’s get to the good stuff.

You’ve heard that better pay is one of the things that makes travel nursing worth it, but exactly what can you expect?

In addition to an average hourly rate that is higher than what you’d make as a staff nurse, you may also receive:

  • Overtime/double time
  • Tax-free housing stipends
  • Tax-free per diems
  • Travel reimbursements
  • Bonuses
  • And more 

Now, of course, if you are taking a position in a high-demand area, your rates will naturally be higher as well. However, even travel nurses who take assignments in lower-paying areas still average more annual income than staff nurses.


How Much Do Travel Nurses Make On Average?

According to Indeed, the average travel nurse in the United States brings in close to $50 per hour, or $114,640 each year. The range of travel nurse salaries is from $83K to $158K per year, but this figure can be much higher for travel nurses who work in specialized fields.

For instance, a travel CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist) can earn an average of over $230,000 per year, but this position demands additional schooling beyond what is required of an RN.


Do Travel Nurses Get Insurance?

Most travel nursing agencies should offer some form of insurance. 

At Trusted Nurse Staffing, in addition to the highest pay rates in the industry, our nurses enjoy a leading health and wellness package that includes:

  • Employer-sponsored health insurance
  • An HRA to fully cover deductibles
  • Guardian dental and vision insurance
  • Wellness benefits
  • Portable permanent whole life insurance
  • Portable short-term and long-term disability insurance

And as if those benefits weren’t enough, we also make the following available for our nurses:

  • Referral bonuses
  • Loyalty Program
  • Discount program
  • 401(k) with a 4% match after 1000 hours and 1 year of employment
  • Housing, meal, and travel reimbursements
  • Customizable pay packages 
  • And more

It’s easy to see why so many travelers love working with Trusted Nurse Staffing.


how does being a travel nurse work


3 Factors That Can Affect A Travel Nurse’s Pay

Travel nurses who can remain flexible, are available immediately, and can manage well in crisis situations often do very well financially. But don’t worry — you don’t have to be willing to drop everything and head into the war zone with each contract just to enjoy the benefits of travel nursing.

There are other factors involved in making the most money out of your travel nursing experience such as type of shifts, specialty, and location.


#1: Shift Type

Oftentimes, hospitals and healthcare facilities have a harder time keeping nightshift staff on contract and as a result, will hire travel nurses to fill temporary vacancies during their hiring process.

If you’re already accustomed to ward nightlife, then you’re at an advantage when it comes to the many listings looking for night shift nurses. Not only do they usually pay better, but many nurses who have worked the night shift consistently know that it can also be an altogether quieter and calmer post than the bustling day shift.

However, if you are not interested in staying up for nights, or simply don’t perform your best in the wee hours, then skip past these postings. 

Don’t sweat it — there are other ways to make those extra high wages as a travel nurse.


#2: Specialty Area

Are you an experienced NICU nurse? Or maybe you’ve spent your years earning cred in the ER. 

While opportunities exist for all nurses, certain specialties are in highest demand, such as:

  • OR (Operating Room)
  • ER (Emergency Room)
  • NICU/MBPP/L&D (Women’s Health)
  • ICU (Intensive Care Unit)
  • CVOR (Cardiovascular Operating Room)
  • Medical Surgery/Telemetry
  • Psychiatric
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist)
  • Neonatal
  • Geriatrics
  • Oncology

With higher-demand positions, there comes a higher pay rate, so if any of these postings appeal to you then you could be enjoying the benefits of a bigger hourly rate.


#3: Location

Location, location, location — it’s not just a real estate thing anymore. 

Location is what most heavily influences the pay rates of a travel nurse. Typically, if the cost of living is higher, then a higher pay rate can be expected. Such is the case in states like Oregon, California, and Massachusetts. 

However, regional trends change — as do demand levels. So don’t count out those amazing destination locations just yet. Assignments to states like Florida and Arizona can crop up with pay rates close to or equal to the states that typically pay the most.


How Does Travel Nurse Housing Work?

Where do travel nurses live? 

It’s a question we get often, and it’s easy to understand why. Moving from state to state every 8-52 weeks can be challenging enough as it is without having to worry about housing.

Travel nurses have two options when it comes to lodging during their assignments:

  • Agency-provided housing – Your nursing agency sources the housing for you.
  • A housing stipend – The agency pays a prearranged amount and you find your own housing.

Most commonly, nurses choose to have the agency find housing because it’s one less thing to have to worry about.

However, if you’re a seasoned traveling nurse, then you may prefer to source your own housing. Sometimes, nurses can make even more money if they can find their own accommodations that cost less than the stipend they receive.

And because Trusted Nurse Staffing is always willing to help you every step of the way, here’s our list of the fifteen best sites through which travel nurses can search for housing.


How Does a Traveling Nurse Work if You  Have a Family — Can You Bring Them With You?

How does travel nursing work if you have a spouse, family, or pets? 

Rest assured, families and pets are always welcome along on assignments. Simply discuss your needs with your recruiter in advance so that the logistical and housing details can be ironed out prior to your assignment.

While travel nursing with a family can take a bit more coordination and flexibility, it’s possible to do and can be a fun adventure for the whole gang!




How Travel Nursing Works: Other FAQs


What Are the Best Locations For Travel Nursing?

Where can you go for the best travel nursing experience? That really depends on what you want to accomplish.

Many nurses choose higher-paying positions only to find out that they don’t like the location. Others choose quiet locations only to find out that they miss the conveniences they’re accustomed to.

Take Annie, for example. A seasoned ER nurse, Annie found many postings looking for an experienced ER nurse and, wow, they certainly paid well.

Annie, originally from Alabama, chose a busy hospital in Boston, when halfway through her assignment winter suddenly hit — and hit hard.

Not prepared for the cold, snowy days, Annie decided that the money wasn’t worth the bundling up, slippery sidewalks, and endless shoveling of her front walk and decided to finish out her contract without even a second thought as to renewing. 

Instead, Annie gave her recruiter at Trusted Nurse Staffing a call and lined up her next assignment in sunny Florida. While her Florida assignment didn’t pay as well as the one in Boston, it was a better fit for her and she was happier there. Goodbye, snow, and hello, beach time!

So while it may be tempting to go for the big bucks when searching for your next job, it’s a good idea to make a list of what makes up your ideal assignment before deciding on the location.

Consider your lifestyle needs, such as:

  • Amenities
  • Weather
  • Transportation options
  • Entertainment
  • Living accommodations
  • Etc.

Now, if you’re the type that can adjust to any situation, then, by all means, go for the big bucks.

Where can you make the most money as a travel nurse?

On average, these 5 states/districts are among those that pay the highest wages:

It’s not uncommon for traveling nurses to be offered a permanent position at the end of a contract, so if you happen to fall in love with a particular place or want to take a break from travel nursing and settle down for a while, you may be in luck!


How Far Do Travel Nurses Travel?

To receive the tax-free stipends that are such a lure for most travel nurses, your agency may have a rule as to how far your home must be from the facility where you accept a position. 

Some agencies require a minimum radius of 50+ miles from the facility to qualify as a travel nurse. Speak to your recruiter to determine which facilities you’re eligible for.

Beyond that, travel nurses can go as far as they’re willing to fly, drive, or take a train throughout the country! This job is a great way to explore the United States and scratch your itch for adventure.


Can Travel Nurses Choose Where They Go?


Travel nurses have the luxury of choosing the destination, the hospital, and the healthcare setting they desire for each assignment. 

So, what about that sunny setting with the killer waves and white sand beaches? Or do you prefer big-city nightlife or even small-town charm? It can be yours. Use the Pronto job search to set your filters, including your desired location, and start searching for travel nursing positions today.


How Long Do Travel Nurses Stay In One Place?

The average travel nursing assignment is 13 weeks, but with Trusted Nurse Staffing you can choose contracts that range anywhere from 8 to 52 weeks. 

Nurses are commonly given the opportunity to extend their contract one or more times depending on the needs of the facility, often with additional benefits.


how does a travel nurse work


Travel Nursing Pros and Cons: Is It Right For You?

So we’ve answered the question “How does travel nursing work?” Now it’s time to decide if travel nursing could be right for you.

As it is with everything, there are pros and cons to consider before you take the plunge and accept your first assignment.

What can you really expect on the road? Let’s take a look.

Pros of travel nursing:

  • Endless adventure opportunities
  • Higher wages and better benefits than staff nursing
  • Avoiding work politics
  • Flexibility to take time off when you want
  • Broadening your work experience
  • Meeting new people
  • Professional networking
  • Getting jobs quickly
  • Opportunity to help under-served communities

Sounds like a dream job, right? We think it is, but there are some things you should consider before you decide to hit the road.

Some common complaints about travel nursing include:

  • Missing family and friends
  • Feeling lonely or homesick
  • Handling multiple state licenses
  • Moving frequently
  • Not feeling like part of the team

If you think the pros outweigh the cons, then travel nursing may be for you.


Become A Travel Nurse With Trusted Nurse Staffing Today

Trusted Nurse Staffing can help you find travel nursing positions that fit your professional, personal, and adventuring needs. We’re redefining the healthcare staffing industry — harnessing the power of people and technology to create exceptional experiences for everyone involved.

And with the Pronto job search, it’s easier than ever:

  1. Create a profile where you can upload your credentials, set your preferred job filters, and start applying for assignments right away.
  2. Get assigned a dream team. You’ll get matched with your own dedicated staff that includes clinical support, payroll, and compliance experts with ongoing assignment advocacy.
  3. You’re part of the family. You’ll have full access to your team and our job board, fully empowered in your career.

Your longing for adventure can end today. Click the link below to get started.