You have an itch to travel, but the long shifts at the hospital and those annoying vacation blackout periods make it hard 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.

We get it. Many of the nurses who come to us for the first time have a lot of questions. Don’t worry, we have the answers.

So, exactly how does travel nursing work?

Here, we’ll share everything you need to know to get started as a travel nurse today.



Table of Contents


how does a traveling nurse work


How Does Being A Travel Nurse Work And Can Any Nurse 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 highly sought after, any nurse whose licenses are in good standing and has typically 2 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.

Can You Do Travel Nursing Without Experience?

Most 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 travel nursing pays well, 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 receive:

  • 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. But even travel nurses who take assignments in lower-paying areas still average more annual income than a staff nurse.

How Much Do Travel Nurses Make On Average?

Many travel nurses bring in over $50/hr with the potential to earn more than $3000/week. In addition to high hourly pay, travel nurses receive a housing stipend, bonuses, and per diems which make it entirely possible for a travel nurse to earn more than $100/k per year.

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 customized benefits package that includes: 

  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield Insurance 
  • 401k 
  • Housing, meals, and travel reimbursements
  • Loyalty rewards
  • And more

3 Factors That Affect A Travel Nurses Pay

Travel nurses who can remain flexible, are available immediately, and can manage well in crisis situations often do very well financially. 

But, there are other factors involved in making the most money out of your travel nursing experience.

So, 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.


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 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.


how does being a travel nurse work



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

With higher demand positions 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.


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 demands. 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 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 no wonder 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.

Can You Bring Your Family With You As A Travel Nurse?

How does travel nursing work if you have a spouse, family, or pets? Don’t worry, 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.




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, did they ever pay 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.

So, while it may be tempting to go for the big bucks, it’s a good idea to make a list of 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 are among those that pay the highest wages:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • Oregon
  • Alaska 

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, the agency may have a rule as to how far you must be from the hospital. 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.

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 destination with the killer waves and white sand beaches? Or do you prefer big city nightlife or even small-town charm? It can be yours.

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?

Now that we’ve answered the question, “how does travel nursing work?”, 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.

So, what can you really expect on the road? Let’s take a look.

Pros to travel nursing:

  • Endless adventure opportunities
  • Higher wages and better benefits than staff nursing
  • Avoiding work politics
  • Flexibility to take time off when you want
  • Broaden your work experience
  • Meet new people
  • Professional networking
  • Get 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 Today

Trusted Nurse Staffing can help you find travel nursing positions that fit your professional, personal, and adventuring needs.

Based on the details you provide in your free online profile, our recruiters will match you with relevant assignments that you’ll love.

Not quite sure you’re ready? That’s okay. You can still create an online profile and our team will analyze your:

  • Education
  • Experience; and
  • Work history

as well as listen to your

  • Goals
  • Interests; and
  • Availability

…before creating a list of possible assignments. 

If you’re interested, we will connect you with your top choices and arrange a phone interview with the facility’s hiring manager.

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

For more information on starting your career as a travel nurse check out our Career Resources page.