PTO and Travel Nursing: How Many Vacation Days Do Travel Nurses Get? 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

In your experience as a nurse, you know that you work hard and earn well-deserved PTO and vacation days. As you consider the transition from staff nursing to travel nursing, you’re wondering how vacation days and PTO work — do you still get vacation days as a travel nurse?

Some might think that working as a travel nurse is much like a vacation — seeing different parts of the country, taking as much time off as you want in between assignments, and working shorter contracts. 

However, there are still rules in place regarding PTO and vacation days for travel nurses, but they just depend on your workplace and travel nursing agency. 

Learn about PTO as a travel nurse, how taking vacation works, and answers to the most commonly asked questions.


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How Much Vacation Time Do Nurses Get?

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer here. The amount of vacation time a nurse gets depends on their place of employment. And just like many things when comparing staff nurses vs. travel nurses, the answer will be vastly different. 

When considering how many days off nurses get, we could be talking about regular vacation days or paid time off (PTO). Believe it or not, these two differ

Depending on your employer, vacation days could be a form of PTO — time requested in advance to be used for vacation, bereavement leave, holidays, sick time, emergencies, etc. — but oftentimes, “vacation time” is a separate concept.

Both PTO and vacation time are accrued by a nurse depending on different methods their company chooses to use — typically hourly, biweekly, semimonthly, monthly, or yearly. 

Are you looking for a more concise answer on how PTO and vacation time work as a travel nurse? Trusted Nurse Staffing offers many benefits to their travel nurses, and work flexibility is one of them. Contact us today.


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How Much PTO Do Nurses Get? 

As a staff nurse, paid time off can range from 17 to 26 PTO days per year, depending on:

  • The facility’s budget
  • Length of employment
  • Full-time vs. part-time vs. per diem
  • An agreement at hiring
  • Type of facility
  • And more

Many nurses accrue PTO and never use the opportunity to take the time off for many reasons. Oftentimes, only one person from a team is allowed to use PTO at a time, PTO requests are denied by employers, or people don’t know what to do with their time off, but using PTO enables nurses to create and sustain an important work/life balance. 

Time off:

  • Helps combat nurse burnout
  • Improves overall physical health
  • Allows for better sleep at night
  • Boosts mental health
  • Gives time with family and friends
  • Allows for fewer on-the-job errors
  • Increases job performance


Hospital vs. Clinic Positions

Where you work as a nurse can play a part in how much PTO you earn and how you use it. For example, hospitals often have higher base salaries for staff nurses than clinic positions, but clinics can offer more days off than hospitals can because of the nature of their facilities. 

Clinics typically offer more dependable shifts and require fewer holiday and weekend hours when they might be closed, whereas hospitals are open all day every day, all year around. You might work a typical eight-hour work day five days a week in a clinic, but in a hospital, nurses typically work three 12-hour shifts.

Both facilities offer pros and cons when it comes to paying, scheduling, and vacation days, so it’s important to determine for yourself which might work best for your needs as a staff nurse. 

If staff nursing isn’t for you, don’t be quick to shoo away the opportunity of travel nursing and what it can offer you in terms of vacation days.

Trusted Nurse Staffing offers customized packages, referral bonuses, flexible contracts, and the highest pay rates in the industry. Interested? Use Pronto to search for available travel nurse contracts around the country and connect with a recruiter at Trusted Nurse Staffing today.


Vacation Days for Travel Nurses

From the outside looking in, it might seem that travel nurses are always on vacation. After all, they get to frequently travel to new destinations, meet new people, and check cool things off their bucket lists.

All of this may be true, but travel nurses work hard and spend many hours on their feet covering short-staffed facilities. Yes, they might also get a day or two to enjoy the Florida beaches, but they’re not exactly on vacation, so it’s important that travel nurses take dedicated vacation time to relax, explore, or celebrate.


how many vacation days


Do Travel Nurses Get Paid Vacation Time?

Paid vacation days are often negotiated with the facility where a travel nurse will be working. For instance, if you’re contracted to work in a hospital that’s in crisis mode and has many urgent needs, it’s unlikely you’ll receive many (or any) paid vacation days during your contract. On the other hand, if you’re working as a labor and delivery nurse, you might have more flexibility in taking paid vacation days.

As far as unpaid vacation time goes, a travel nurse can take as much time off in between assignments as they wish. If you’ve just finished working a 13-week assignment with no extra days off, you might want to take two weeks off before beginning your next travel nurse contract. As long as you’re not tied up in a contract, that time off is completely up to you. Just keep in mind these two things:

  1. This isn’t a paid vacation, but because travel nurses receive fantastic pay, you might have the means to reward yourself with some time off.
  2. Many facilities are looking for travel nurses with recent experience, so don’t take too much time off in between assignments.


Do Travel Nurses Get PTO?

Typically, travel nursing agencies do not offer paid time off, so beware if one makes it seem like they do. For example, an agency might say you can have “X” number of days off and still get paid; however, that’s already worked into your pay package and not considered to be true PTO.

Before beginning a new assignment, be sure you request any necessary days off. Once they are negotiated and approved (or denied), sign the contract. You’ll work the full contract and be able to take those previously requested days off, all while receiving your full contracted pay.

There are no additional PTO days added in by the agency. 

When you choose to work with Trusted Nurse Staffing, you don’t have to worry about anything hidden in your contract. We pride ourselves on our transparency, and our nurses respect us for it.


What Other Benefits Do Travel Nurses Get?

This all depends on your travel nursing agency, but with Trusted Nurse Staffing, travel nurses can look forward to receiving:

  • Flexible contracts
  • 401(k) with 4% match after 1,000 hours and a year of employment
  • Full-time, part-time, and per diem work
  • Overtime availability
  • Weekly paychecks
  • Rental car options
  • Customized benefits
  • License, certifications, and CEU reimbursements
  • Dental and vision insurance
  • Wellness benefits
  • Housing, travel, and food stipends
  • And more


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How Does PTO Work for Nurses? Legal Regulations To Know About

As a full-time nurse, you might believe that your facility is required to provide PTO. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily true. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked, whether that be vacations, sick leave, federal holidays, or other holidays. 

There are no federal regulations regarding PTO or sick leave for nurses. Instead, the benefits decided are matters of agreement between an employer and employee.

Although you can still request time off without PTO, many employers offer PTO as a way to keep employee retention high and ensure a healthy work/life balance for their staff.


3 Tips for Requesting Time Off as a Travel Nurse

As a travel nurse, everything you want and expect from each assignment should be negotiated and included in your contract before you sign it. That includes time off, like vacation days. 

To increase your chances for success when requesting time off, consider these tips.


#1: Have Open Communication With Your Travel Nurse Agency and Facility

The working relationship between a contracted travel nurse and their facility is unique, and you have to have open and upfront conversations about desired time off as soon as you know about them.

It’s always best to request time off before your contract begins so it can be negotiated into your contract, especially if it will be for multiple days in a row. However, we know this isn’t always possible, and things come up. As soon as you’re aware of needing time off, bring it up to your facility and travel agency. It may be approved, but there’s always a chance it might not be.


#2: Have Back-Up Choices in Mind

As a travel nurse, your job is to work in facilities that have staffing needs, so it might not be probable they’ll be able to grant you many days or your desired days off. For example, you might have to work holidays, nights, or weekends.

You can request these days off, but keep in mind they need to be approved and in your contract for it to be guaranteed. If there is a chance they won’t be approved, consider having back-up dates in mind to ask for off instead.


#3: In Case of an Emergency, Contact Your Recruiter ASAP

Emergencies happen, so they’re not days off that you’ll have previously requested in your contract. They can quickly become stressful, especially for a travel nurse who is often far from home, family, and friends.

By contacting your recruiter right away, they can help you determine the next steps depending on the situation and how much time you need off.

If only one or two shifts will be missed, you might simply request emergency leave from the facility. If more time off is required, your recruiter might be able to add an extra week to your contract at the end of the assignment. 

Whatever the emergency is, quick and effective communication is key. 


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FAQs Regarding Time Off as a Travel Nurse


Can You Request Days Off as a Travel Nurse?

Before starting an assignment, it’s always best to request days off for any days you already know you’ll need. This allows your recruiter to work it into your contract, the facility to already be aware of the time off and make plans for it, and a greater chance of it being approved, as long as it’s a reasonable request. 

Of course, not everything is always planned weeks or months in advance. There might come a time when you need a last-minute day off for something that suddenly came up. You can always try to request time off — communicating with both your recruiter and your facility — but you should understand that it may not be accommodated and could be turned down.


How Are Vacation Days for Travel Nurses Negotiated?

If you’re planning to take vacation days during an assignment, these days are negotiated in your contract between you, your travel agency, and the facility you will be working for. 

However, travel nurses always have the opportunity to take unpaid days off in between travel nursing assignments. All you have to do is let your travel agency know you’ll be taking a few weeks to yourself before you’re ready to pick up another assignment, and they’ll help you work around your plans.


Do Travel Nurses Ever Get PTO for Holidays?

It’s possible to get holidays off as a travel nurse, but again, this will have to be negotiated in advance as part of your contract. 

Holidays tend to be busy in hospitals, so an already short-staffed facility might not be able to accommodate time off requests for holidays.

If there’s a holiday you really don’t want to miss, consider taking time off from travel assignments through that holiday and forgo having to negotiate it into your travel nursing contract with the risk of it being denied. 


How Many Days Off Do Nurses Get? Take Vacation Days Into Your Own Hands With Trusted Nurse Staffing

A big perk of travel nursing is that you get to take your career into your own hands — and working with an experienced travel nursing agency can help you do that.

Is there an assignment you really want? Trusted Nurse Staffing will work to find it for you.

Is there a destination you’re dying to get to? We can help find a contract that’s just right for you in that area. 

Do you really need specific days off that fall within your desired contract? We can help negotiate that time off for you, too.

At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we want you to be in the driver’s seat of your career. As a travel nurse, you get to decide how much time you need off in between assignments and how to best use your vacation days when you do get them.

Not only will we help negotiate everything you’re after in each contract, but as a travel nurse with Trusted Nurse Staffing, you earn some of the highest salaries in the industry, so you can take those vacation days guilt-free. 

Ready to take the leap? Contact Trusted Nurse Staffing and let us help you find your ideal travel nursing contract across the country.


how much PTO do nurses get