Travel Nursing 101

Episode 13: Travel Nursing

June 28, 2019 1 Comment



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Most frequently asked travel nursing questions

What is travel nursing?

  • Travel nursing is a career in which you are a nurse away from home.
  • Travel nursing usually consists of traveling to different states to work as a nurse.
  • Instead of being a staff nurse at a hospital, you work 50+ miles away. Look at it as freelancing. You work at different companies for different amounts of time.

How does travel nursing work?

  • Travel nursing started due to a shortage of registered nurses in various parts of the country. Travel nurses are usually hired through a staffing agency for a specific location for a certain number of months.
  • Although assignment lengths can vary, typical travel nursing assignments last about 13 weeks. After an assignment is over, you may be asked to renew your contract and sign up for another 13 weeks or your assignment may just be completed. At that time, you can take another travel assignment somewhere else in the country or go back home.

How can I become a travel nurse

  • According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), anyone who wants to have a career in nursing should hold a Bachelor’s degree as a bare minimum. To then become an RN, you will need to pass the N-CLEX exam.
  • Travel nurses must be registered nurses (RNs). This can be done in three different ways:
    • You can attend a nursing school based in a hospital. This pathway takes up to four years to complete.
    • Attain an ADN. This takes around two years to complete. You can then study for a further one or two years to obtain a Bachelor’s degree.
    • Achieve a BSN, which takes four years to complete.
  • It is recommended you work at least 1-2 years as a staff nurse prior to travel.
  • Apply for licensure in the state in which you want to work.
    • State application paperwork, application fees, documentation (ID, Social Security), resume, RN license, and transcripts.
      • Length of time for approval varies anywhere from 4 to 14 weeks depending on the state.   
      • It is not difficult to apply; it is mostly a waiting game. 

Research contracts and agencies

      1. What is the net pay vs gross pay?
      2. how much is the overtime pay?
      3. What locations do you serve?
      4. How is your pay package structured?
      5. What do you provide in terms of health insurance?
      6. Do you provide free housing or a housing stipend?
      7. What happens when you get called off?
      8. Are there any signing incentives or end-of-assignment bonuses?
      9. How much time can I take off between assignments?
  • Income
    • 2017 median income for a travel nurse was $70,000


Average Annual Salary





District of Columbia







Find housing

  • You will need a fully furnished place to stay unless you plan on moving and renting long term.
  • You can find your own place or the travel agency can help you with that, however, it will affect how much you will get paid.

How does it feel to be a travel nurse?

  • Income
    • You will need to be smart with your income. You will potentially be having 2 bills to pay, one at home and one at your current traveling place.
    • Expenses: Groceries, gas, car maintenance, hobbies (gym), going out, travel, plane ticket, rent, tolls, parking… etc
  • Orientation
    • Most places give 1 or 2 days of orientation on the unit. Some offer a hospital orientation where they go over policies and procedures.
    • The charting system might be different as well, some hospitals offer charting orientation.
    • Even after orientation, you might run into some issues regarding your logins.
  • The unit
    • Every unit you go into is going to have a different look, the nurse's station will have a different layout. Where can you sit? Where are their computers, are they in the patient's room?
    • In the ICU it is always preferred to have 1 patient per room. The patient’s room will look different than what you’ve seen previously. Where’s the thermostat, how does the bed work, is there space to move around, can you chart in the room, Pyxis, etc…
    • The staff is going to be different wherever you go but there are always those nurses that are easier to talk to than others. If you're a traveler, the staff in the hospital is often used to people like you and know that you're just there to work for a short period. Some might want to engage, but most won't. Even though you're there for a good time and not for a long time, you will hear some of the gossip and know which nurses are known for what. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to help a fellow nurse.
    • You may be used to working with a specific demographic and that can all change. You will see and learn about the patient population; their demographics, income, housing, and their common health issues.  

Outside of work

  • Remember you’re not out there just to work 24/7. Go out and enjoy your time there too. See what the city and state have to offer. Go explore. You’re a travel nurse for a reason.



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Want to learn more about travel nursing, see our podcast!

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1 Response


November 09, 2020

Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

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