What Is the Truth About Travel Nursing and Is It the Path for You? 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

We’ve been there, done that. Literally. All over the country. Different people, policies, hospitals, experiences, etc., the list goes on and on.

We’re travel nurses and we’re here to tell you: travel nursing can have its woes, but the wows can greatly outweigh them.

So we are here to share the truth about travel nursing and the multiple ways it can positively impact your life and career. Keep reading for more words of wisdom from those who have been there.


Table of Contents



What Is the Hardest Thing About Being a Travel Nurse?

Let’s first get to the less appealing truth about travel nursing. There are many pros to being a travel nurse, but what are the cons?

Some downsides to travel nursing may include:

  • Unfamiliar and new environments – As a travel nurse, you go from hospital to hospital filling the gaps where you’re always needed and always as the new guy. Every hospital has a different layout, procedures, and policies. And just when you get further into your contract and feel like you’re getting your footing, there’s a looming possibility you could be floated to another department.
  • Assignments and scheduling – Sometimes your assignment and/or schedule isn’t exactly what you wanted. You’re the new guy after all, and because of that, you might sometimes get the bottom pick of the barrel.
  • License issues – You will be required to hold a valid nursing license in every state you might work in. Some states allow a nurse licensure compact which can allow you to have one multistate license to practice in your home state and other compact states. Not all states allow this, so you may have to obtain multiple state licenses or limit your choice of contracts.
  • Canceled contracts – There is always a possibility that your contract may be canceled for one reason or another. Perhaps the contract currently is not the best fit for you, or maybe the establishment decides it no longer needs travel nurses. Suddenly you are without a job and must rearrange your plans. 
  • No paid time off – Travel nurses typically do not get PTO. So you may find yourself in a pinch if there is an emergency or you get sick. This could also impact your living stipend.

Every job comes with some downsides, and travel nursing is no exception. Fortunately, the occupational downsides become diminished when you consider the massive benefits of travel nursing. So let’s now explore the better truths about traveling nursing.


the truth about travel nurses


12 Truths About Life as a Travel Nurse


#1: Travel Nursing Is a Self-Directed Career

As a travel nurse, you get to decide where you go, what your contract is, the extent of your term, and more. You are essentially your own boss when it comes to negotiating your contract. 

This is one of the great truths about travel nursing, but it does come with additional responsibility. You are your own negotiator, so it is all on you to understand and confirm details about your contract, like your payroll and tax information, stipend, and assignment. 

Always read your contracts carefully and ask questions if you have them. You will want to understand your contract inside and out to reduce the chance of any miscommunication between you and your recruiter.


#2: Not Every Travel Nursing Contract Is the Same

Choose wisely and do your research, because not every contract is going to be the right fit for you. 

When reviewing your contract options consider:

  • Location – You may want to pick somewhere you will enjoy because if you don’t like where you’re stationed, it might make things more difficult for you. Do research on prospective contract locations to find out if it would be the right pick for you. Consider factors like the seasonal weather or nearby attractions when choosing your nursing contract.
  • Pay – Some contracts may pay more based on position and location. If money is the most important aspect of travel nursing, do your research and compare pay rates.
  • Position – Certain travel nurse positions will pay more or less than others due to demand. Keep in mind that travel nursing can be a different experience than what you might be used to. You’re traveling to a new hospital and learning its policies and procedures. If you choose a department that you are not very familiar with, you may have a harder time adjusting.


#3: Travel Nurses Have Opportunities To Earn Higher Pay

Covid left a large hole in nurse staffing. This hole was closed with travel nurses, and the pay was phenomenal. This truth about traveling nursing is still true today.

While travel nurse staffing post-covid is not as lucrative as during the pandemic, as a travel nurse you will likely continue to make more than your non-travel nursing peers.

According to recent data, travel nurses make an average of $56.49 an hour, while the average RN pay is $39.78. And the more experience you have as a travel nurse, the higher you may be able to negotiate your pay. 


#4: Travel Nurses Receive Many Stipends and Bonuses

While you’re getting paid to travel for work, you have to have somewhere to stay. Institutions often provide travel nurses with housing stipends in the form of an allowance or additional salary. Your housing stipend is non-taxable income since it is viewed as reimbursement. 

The amount of your stipend may depend on two factors:

  • Assignment location
  • Travel nurse agency 

Another monetary advantage of travel nursing is bonuses.

Bonuses you could receive as a travel nurse might be:

  • Sign-on bonuses
  • Completion bonuses
  • Agency-based referral bonuses
  • Agency-based loyalty bonuses

At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we aim to find our nurses the best contracts, housing stipends, and more. With some of the best pay rates in the industry, we can help you find the most lucrative fit for you. Use Pronto to begin your search.


the truth about travel nursing


#5: Travel Nursing Is for All Ages

Though younger nurses tend to flock towards travel nursing more than other age demographics, there’s no age restriction. For veteran nurses with empty nests, travel nursing is an excellent opportunity to make great money and travel

Veteran nurses with plenty of experience might have an easier time adjusting than nurses with fresh, new nursing licenses. Experienced nurses are highly sought after and may often be paid more to be travel nurses.


#6: Travel Nurses Get To — Wait for It — Travel!

Four simple words: “Travel and get paid.”

Could you even imagine? For some nurses, this is the best benefit of travel nursing. It is expensive to travel. So who wouldn’t want to not only get to travel for free but also get paid to do so?

Benefits of traveling as a travel nurse might include:

  • Meeting new people
  • Making new memories
  • Visiting places you’ve always wanted to go
  • Testing the waters of places you may want to potentially live


#7: Travel Nursing Is a Great Way To Broaden Your Work Experience

The experience you gain as a travel nurse may include:

  • The ability to quickly familiarize yourself with the unfamiliar
  • The ability to learn new procedures and policies quickly
  • The ability to be flexible with your skills and knowledge

These qualities may make you more attractive to potential employers. Travel nursing is a great way to broaden not only your experience but also your resume.

Every new assignment is an opportunity to learn more about the field of nursing. As a travel nurse, you learn different policies, procedures, and facility layouts. This not only enhances your knowledge but also your workability.


travel nursing truths


#8: Travel Nurses Enjoy Lots of Flexibility

As a travel nurse, you decide how much you want to work, how long, and if you want to work contracts back to back or take a break in between. Who else could take breaks in between traveling for work to up and go travel somewhere for leisure?

Plus, if you love a place and aren’t ready to leave — you might not have to! Just extend your contract.


#9: Travel Nursing Provides Many Opportunities for Professional Networking

The benefits of meeting new people as a travel nurse don’t just include making friends. You can make professional connections that could enhance your career and expose you to lucrative opportunities in the future.

Travel nursing is also a great way to collect professional recommendations from established figures in the field. So feel free to pursue social and professional networking as a travel nurse. Pad your resume with experience and names.


#10: Travel Nurses Are in High Demand

Our population is growing and people are living longer. We need nurses, and the demand for nurses will continue to grow.

The stress from covid generated a large amount of burnout in the field of nursing. With so many nurses leaving the field, states began to lack the staff to keep up with patient demands. This is where travel nurses came to save the day.

Many states have not recovered from this shortage and are still in need of travel nurses. These states include:

  • California
  • Texas
  • New Jersey
  • South Carolina
  • Alaska

Some shortages are specialty related. Nursing departments that are in high demand for travel nurses are:

  • Med-surg
  • Trauma
  • Step-down
  • Long-term care


travel nurse info


#11: Each New Travel Nursing Assignment May Have a Learning Curve

No new contract employer is going to expect you to have everything down pat your first week. As we mentioned before, every hospital may have a different set of rules and procedures to follow, not to mention a different layout.

It will be expected that you take some time to get oriented with each new assignment. So don’t worry too much about immediately adjusting, and focus on having a helpful attitude, patience, and flexibility. 


#12: Your Travel Nursing Recruiter Matters

Your choice in contracts is totally up to you, but you might use a travel nursing recruiter to help you find one. A good travel nursing recruitment agency should be openly-communicative, honest, and patient. Your choice of recruiter could affect your satisfaction with your contract and/or travel nursing in general.

Your choice of travel nursing recruiter might also influence…

  • Your pay-rate
  • Your bonuses
  • Your stipend
  • Your choice of contracts

Trusted Nurse Staffing is here to help you find your dream contract with your desired position, pay, and location in mind. Our support does not end after you start your contract. We are with you the whole way through.


Want To Know the Whole Truth About Travel Nursing? Trusted Nurse Staffing Will Answer All Your Questions

The nursing field needs all the support it can get. At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we aim to go above and beyond to show you our support and express our values.

Our values:

  • Work hard, play hard
  • Celebrate success
  • Show appreciation
  • Overcome obstacles
  • Embrace our differences
  • Pursue growth

We acknowledge the truths about traveling nursing, and we are committed to helping you throughout your entire contract. Check out Pronto to find travel nursing assignments.


the truth about travel nursing