Weighing the Pros and Cons of Being a Travel Nurse 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

Nursing is your purpose and passion. The impact you make on the world carries you through your bad days and your good days. 

But lately, you feel a little stagnant in your life and career. You don’t want to stop changing lives through the field of nursing, but you are itching for a change. 

Maybe you’ve met some travel nurses who have come to help support your unit. Or maybe you know of a coworker who left to begin travel nursing. Either way, your interest is piqued and travel nursing just may be the change you need. 

Before you start packing your bags, let’s explore the pros and cons of travel nursing and discuss the best way to find your dream travel nursing assignment.


travel nursing is it worth it


Table of Contents



Why Do Hospitals Hire Travel Nurses?

Travel nurses act as a safety net for healthcare facilities that may be at risk of or suffering from a staffing shortage. 

Hospitals hire travel nurses for several reasons, including: 

  • To address short-term staffing needs
  • To fill in positions that are high in demand
  • To provide extra staffing during busy seasons
  • To support permanent facility staff

Due to the nursing shortage exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for travel nurses soared in 2020 and 2021. According to data from the American Hospital Association, travel nurses were responsible for 23.9% of all hours worked in 2022 compared to 3.9% in 2019. 

Additionally, hospitals love hiring travel nurses because it is a cost-effective staffing solution for them. 

The cost of training a new staff nurse due to turnover can be anywhere from $22,000 to $64,000. By choosing a travel nurse to meet demands that may seasonally change, a hospital can avoid costs related to training, onboarding, and turnover rates. 

Travel nurses are employees of their staffing agency — not the hospital. Due to this, the hospital is spared from providing typical employee expenses like: 

  • Health insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Retirement
  • Recruitment and training
  • Overtime

Before signing on with an agency, make sure you know what benefits are provided to you as a travel nurse.


What Do Travel Nurses Do?

Anything they want. 

Okay, that’s not exactly true. 

But you do have the option to choose where you’d like to work, what nursing position you’d like, and even what type of shifts you want to work — but the sights you see and memories you make are all up to you!

Any available assignment that you qualify for is on the table. With the help of Trusted Nurse Staffing and Pronto, you can find available assignments that fit your wants and needs. Provide a myriad of benefits that exceed the pros and outweigh the cons of travel nurses. 

We offer flexible contracts in all 50 states. Use the Pronto job search to find great opportunities and take control of your work life.


travel nursing pros and cons


How Often Do Travel Nurses Travel?

Among the pros and cons of being a traveling nurse is the flexibility in contract length.

While the typical contract length is 13 weeks, Trusted Nurse Staffing offers flexible contracts for 6, 8, or 13 weeks. 

However, some available contracts may be shorter based on the facility’s needs. We also offer contract extensions if you find an assignment and location you really like. 

As long as the hospital is in agreement, contracts can be also renewed and extended multiple times if you happen to fall in love with your assignment. If you end up not loving an assignment, the good news is it’s only temporary, and you can be off to your next job once your contract ends.


How Much Do Travel Nurses Make?

As far as travel nursing pros and cons go, if you were to ask a travel nurse about their biggest “pros” they would likely mention the pay. 

The average annual travel nurse salary in 2023 was $101,132 or $59 per hour according to ZipRecruiter. This is significantly higher than the average salary for registered nurses in 2023, which is $81,220 per year or $39.05 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

However, you have the opportunity to earn even more money based on a few factors. Keep reading to learn how you can make the most money as a travel nurse. 


Where Do Travel Nurses Make The Most Money?

Areas with the highest demand, such as crisis assignments or areas facing strikes/nursing shortages are where the biggest money potential is. 

For example, travel nursing pay nearly doubled nationwide in response to the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, making travel nursing an extremely lucrative career option. For some nurses, the pay alone can outweigh all perceived travel nursing cons.  

The 10 highest-paying states for travel nurses in 2024 include: 

  1. Alaska
  2. New York
  3. California
  4. District of Columbia
  5. Arizona
  6. South Dakota
  7. New Jersey
  8. Nevada
  9. Wisconsin
  10. North Dakota

The defining factor in pay for these states is attributed to the cost of living being higher. Most southern states offer lower pay for travel nursing because the cost of living is lower.

Other factors such as location, specialty, and shift type will affect how much money you can make as a travel nurse. 


3 Factors That Affect A Travel Nurse’s Pay

You’re still deciding on whether travel nursing is worth it but find the financial opportunity to be quite alluring. 

The good news is that you don’t have to take an emergency assignment to make good money. 

Let’s talk about three other travel nursing factors that can help line your wallet with some extra cash.


#1: Location

You’ve probably heard this old real estate mantra: location, location, location. 

When it comes to higher pay for travel nursing, location is likely the biggest factor. 

Once you determine what locations are currently available for travel nursing, you can begin researching each place to help determine if it will be a good fit for your interests and goals. 

For example, you may love the adventure that the destination offers, but if the cost of living is higher than what you expect to be paid, you won’t be able to budget for many special outings.

At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we not only provide our travel nurses with a housing stipend but a meal stipend and stipend for incidentals as well. This way, you don’t have to worry as much about the cons of travel nursing in a location with a high cost of living. 

When choosing your next travel nursing location, you may want to consider these five location-related factors:

  1. Pay 
  2. Cost of living
  3. Distance from family
  4. Local transportation options
  5. Housing options


#2: Specialty

Nurses with certain qualifications and specialties are paid considerably more. 

This is where having a good travel nurse staffing agency will come into play. 

A great travel nurse staffing agency, like Trusted Nurse Staffing, will reimburse you for your license, certifications, and CEUs. 

If you have the time and drive to take advantage of education reimbursements, you can earn top-dollar nursing assignments for in-demand, high-paying specialties.

Some of the top highest-paying travel nurse specialties include: 

  1. Labor and delivery nurses
  2. Operating room nurses
  3. NICU nurses
  4. Postanesthesia care unit nurses
  5. ICU nurses
  6. Emergency room
  7. Med-Surg
  8. Telemetry

If you need to know how to choose a nursing specialty, the folks at Trusted Nurse Staffing will do their best to give you experience in as many different fields as they can.

And with the Pronto job search, it’s easier than ever to find just what you’re looking for. Enter your specifications such as specialties you’re interested in and places you want to travel/work and let Pronto do the rest.


#3: Shift

Night shifts — you either love them or hate them.

But regardless of how you feel on the matter, night shift assignments make more money.

Hospitals are often in need of more night-shift nurses and are willing to offer higher rates to fill this demand. If you’re a night owl, that extra money may just entice you to take a night shift assignment. 

However, a word to the wise: don’t sacrifice your happiness for money. 

If you know you’ll be miserable working night shifts, lean into the plethora of other factors that can help you make the most money as a travel nurse.


what do travel nurses do


Pros and Cons of Being a Travel Nurse: Is It Worth It?

Now that we’ve outlined some travel nursing basics, let’s discuss the pros and cons of travel nursing.


5 Travel Nursing Pros

One 2023 survey that aimed to uncover the main motivators for travel nurses found that the main pros are considered to be: 

  • Money (765)
  • Freedom and flexibility (67%)
  • Sense of adventure (32%)
  • Work-life balance (32%)
  • Ability to focus on patients, not politics (26%)

Let’s focus on five travel nursing pros that show why so many people love this profession.


#1: Traveling More

This one is obvious — the opportunity to travel is one of the main reasons why nurses choose to become travel nurses. As a travel nurse, you’re practically getting paid to work. 

If you are interested in travel nursing, you must have a craving for adventure. 

With travel nursing, you can start scratching destinations off your travel wish list and gain enriching, life-long experiences throughout your assignments.

A career in travel nursing means being able to do whatever else it is you love, and the added flexibility of taking PRN shifts gives you even more time for that. 

With the Trusted Nurse Staffing Pronto job search, you can enter your search details and find jobs that meet your requirements. Can’t find a job that marks all of your boxes? Don’t give up your search, Pronto will notify you when a job that meets your standards becomes available. 


#2: Money

As we’ve discussed, there is ample opportunity to make a good amount of money as a travel nurse. 

While multiple factors may determine your pay, you’re likely to make more as a travel nurse than a staff nurse.

In January 2022, the peak wage of travel nurses was 148.1% higher than staff nurses nationally, and 103.3% higher over the whole year. 

While the wages for travel nursing may have tapered down a bit since then, according to ZipRecruiter, the average RN salary is $1,689 per week nationwide, compared to $1,944 per week for travel nurses. 

An RN travel nurse’s salary may vary depending on:

  • Specialties
  • Stipends 
  • Location
  • Shift 
  • Crisis assignments
  • And more

Travel nurses get paid more because they are filling a position that may be: 

  • Working nights, weekends, and holidays
  • In a remote area of need
  • Understaffed due to seasonal reasons
  • A hard-to-fill speciality


#3: Housing Benefits

As a travel nurse, you typically have two choices for housing benefits: 

  1. Agency-based housing
  2. Housing stipend

With agency-based housing, your travel nurse staffing agency will coordinate your temporary housing for you. This can be a great option if you don’t want to deal with any stress in finding your own housing.

If you choose to get a housing stipend, you will be responsible for coordinating housing. Your housing stipend is based on the cost of living in the area of your assignment. 

Some nurses choose to take a housing stipend as it can give them more flexibility if they can find housing rent lower than the allotted stipend.

The Pronto job search can help you find the perfect place to call home for your next travel nurse assignment location, and the team at Trusted Nursing Staff can help with any career-related issues that come up before, during, or after your assignment. 

Search jobs today on Pronto. 


travel nursing pros and cons


#4: Agency Perks and Incentives

A great travel nurse staffing agency will have a fair amount of perks and incentives. 

For example, some of the perks of working with Trusted Nurse Staffing include: 

  • Some of the highest pay rates in the industry
  • 401(k)
  • Flexible contracts with 8-, 13-, 26-, and 52-week assignments
  • Full/part-time options 
  • 24/7 support from your recruiter
  • Availability for overtime/double-time
  • Weekly paychecks, daily pay, and advances available via direct deposit
  • Allowances for housing, meals, and travel
  • Customized benefits package
  • Insurance with Blue Cross and Blue Shield
  • Reimbursements for licenses, certifications, and CEUs
  • A loyalty program
  • A referral program
  • Priority job order bonus
  • Sign-on and completion bonuses

Always consider the perks and incentives offered by a staffing agency before deciding to sign on. 


#5: Better Work-Life Balance

While you may be away from your loved ones during your assignment, travel nursing offers one additional element of work-life balance that permanent nursing does not. 

Travel nurses have the option to take breaks between assignments. This means:

  • You’ll never have to worry about requesting time off to go on vacation.
  • You can take extended breaks if you’re feeling burnout.
  • There is more time to spend with your family and friends when you’re not working.


5 Travel Nursing Cons

While there are many reasons to love travel nursing, every rose has its thorn. While the pros of travel nursing are plenty, there are a few travel nursing cons. 

Let’s take a look at some of the possibly not-so-fun aspects of travel nursing.


#1: Homesickness

At some point, every travel nurse has probably experienced homesickness. 

Of course, missing out on family events or holidays due to an assignment can make one feel lonely. 

Because of this, travel nurses often stick together.

It’s important to develop a good support system during your travel nursing assignment to help you combat the occasional homesickness blues. 


#2: Always Being the “New Nurse”

As a travel nurse, you will be immersed in unfamiliar environments that force you to learn and navigate different policies, procedures, and work cultures. Then, just when you feel like you’ve gotten the hang of a facility, your contract ends and you have to start all over again. 

Some nurses find that unfamiliarity is one of the most difficult aspects of travel nursing. 

However, nurses by nature are highly adaptive. Travel nursing will help you hone this skill to become a sought-after asset to many facilities, which means more career opportunities and higher pay. 


how much money do travel nurses make


#3: Dealing With Travel Logistics

Travel logistics can be a little hairy sometimes. Settling into a new location is not always easy. 

Some difficulties of moving frequently include: 

  • Getting used to time-zone changes
  • Changes in weather
  • Arranging insurance between contracts
  • Adjusting quickly to new work environments

If you’re not very good at packing, being a travel nurse may fix this. Travel nursing also teaches you how to deal with travel nurse cons like navigating traveling logistics, turning you into a traveling pro. 


#4: Less-Than-Ideal Shifts

Travel nurses are often used to fill staff shortages. Unfortunately, this means you may not always get your ideal work schedule. 

Working night, weekend, or holiday shifts is a strong possibility as a travel nurse.

However, travel nurses generally only work three days a week, which leads to a lot of time off to explore each new location. 

There’s also the possibility that you may be picked first to float. While the average nurse typically dislikes floating, travel nurses can see this as an opportunity to flex their adaptive skills.


#5: Career Development Challenges

Since travel nurses are not full-time staff, they may miss a few career advancements that are offered to their permanent staff counterparts. 

These career development opportunities might include:

  • Promotions
  • Tuition assistance and reimbursement programs
  • Mentoring and leadership offers

While you may face travel nurse cons like career development challenges, travel nursing allows you to pad your resume and find valuable career networks. 

If you decide you want to become a career travel nurse, your breadth of experience and references will help you continually find great assignments. If you decide travel nursing isn’t right for you, your experience as a travel nurse will still have an impact on potential employer’s perspectives. 

Whatever you decide, choosing to become a travel nurse will not negatively impact your career, despite this travel nurse con. 


How Do I Choose A Travel Nursing Agency?

When choosing a travel nurse agency, you want to look out for these three things: 

  1. Support/Responsiveness: Your agency should provide mentorship and strong support.
  2. Benefits: Make sure your agency provides the benefits you need.
  3. Great Pay/Perks: Shop around for the best pay and incentives so you can guarantee you are making the most money possible.

If you find that an agency is unresponsive, doesn’t offer insurance, and doesn’t offer weekly pay, these are warning signs telling you to run the other way.


Weigh Traveling Nurse Pros and Cons for Yourself With the Help of Trusted Nurse Staffing

Now that you know the pros and cons of travel nursing, are you ready to choose adventure, pad your resume, and make life-long memories as a travel nurse? 

If so, we are here to support you along your journey.

Check out Trusted Nurse Staffing’s Pronto job search to explore a world of future possibilities in your travel nursing career. 

The Pronto job search, which Trusted Nurse Staffing powers, is a solution for allied health professionals, RNs, and LPNs who are searching for the right travel assignment that matches their lifestyles. 

Pronto will find you all the available assignment opportunities in the area — all at the touch of your fingertips. 

Pronto was designed to enable new and experienced travel nurses nationwide to take control of their careers. 

Whether you are looking for a higher-paying position, better work/life balance, or more, you can change your career and life through travel nursing with the help of Pronto and Trusted Nurse Staffing. Begin your journey today. 


travel nursing pros and cons