What is Travel Nursing ?

First Traveling Nurse - Visiting Home-health NurseTravel Nurses or Traveling Allied Healthcare Professionals work temporary contracts for hospitals or facilities. They work through an agency or as a independent contractor or as a seasonal employee for a facility. 

The Shortage of Healthcare Professionals especially in Nursing provides a never ending supply of Travel Nurse Assignments all over and for some time to come.
Some Travelers have been Traveling for 20 years or more so it definitely can be done full-time as a career if you want or you can take breaks between assignments and see the world.

Are the pay and benefits the same as a regular nurse ?

Generally it is higher to attract healthcare professionals especially when you figure in the housing, travel reimbursements, bonuses. Alot of the Travel Nurse Companies also have the same or better benefits than many hospitals such as 401K, Health Insurance provided or a reimbursement, CEU reimbursements, Licensure reimbursement, Life Insurance , Disability, Loyalty Rewards, Referral Bonuses, Completion Bonuses, Tax Advantage Programs, Travel reimbursement, Contests, Extension Bonuses.

What areas of nursing can you practice in as a traveling nurse ?

ICU, OR, ER, Med-Surg , Dialysis, Psych, Cath, L&D, PEDS, PICU, STICU, Home Health, Management, Supervisors, Long Term Care, Nursing Home, Rehab, Step Down, Case Management, Nurse Practitioners, Specialty NPs, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Nurse Anesthesists, LPNs, LVNs, even CNAs at times & More.
Including other Healthcare Professions such as Respiratory Therapists, Physical Therapists, Speech Language Therapists, Social Workers, Doctors, Specialty Techs, Licensed Psych Techs, Radiology Techs & More.

What are the benefits and perks of being a traveling nurse ?

Increased financial reward.
Travel and seeing the World while you are still young and get paid.
Learning new skills and working in different settings.
Expand your horizons.
Freedom to take off between assignments and the money to do things.
Getting out of the rut and always experiencing new things in your work and environment.

Where do you live as a traveling nurse ?

Usually a nice private one bedroom apartment or larger depending on what you negotiate and what you need. Some people stay in extended stay suites which are like studios. Some people Travel in RVs.

Do you have to find your own housing ?

No, usually the company finds it but I recommend you to do searches and compare results. No one is more motivated than you in finding the best housing that the company can put in their name. Some people will take the housing stipend and find their own housing. It all depends on your situation.
For example an RVer will take the housing stipend generally. Myself, I prefer Not having the housing in my name. Your Housing or Housing stipend is Tax Free if you maintain a "Permanent Tax Home".

Do you have to pay for your housing ?

No, you should not unless you are being paid as independent contractor where you receive just a pay rate which is to cover all your expenses and wage. As an independent contractor or subcontractor you can deduct many more expenses which are business expenses.

How long are the assignments for ?

Generally for 13 weeks at a time. Many people extend another thirteen weeks if the need is there and they like the facility. Contracts or Assignments can range anywhere from 4 weeks to 26 weeks and overseas assignments such as in Australia can range 1 -2 years.

Do you get to choose where you want to go ?

Yes depending on the availability of assignments among the 300 Plus Travel Nurse Companies in the United States. There are Companies in other Countries as well Generally the English Speaking Countries and the Middle East. The Department of Defense and the Military Contracts with Nurses and other Healthcare Professionals in other countries such as in Europe, Japan, Germany, Italy etc.

Can you choose any state in the country to work in ? Even Hawaii and Alaska ?

Yes but you need a license for the state you will work in. There is a group of States called the Nurse Compact that allows you to use your license in other compact states without any paperwork. The catch is you must be a resident of a compact state and maintain a license (RN or LPN) there.
For States outside of the Compact you need to apply for their license through that state's board of nursing. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing Maintains a website with links to all State Boards of Nursing websites and/or phone numbers as well as a Map of Compact States. New states are gradually being added to the compact state list.

Many States are "walk thru" states meaning you can travel to their Board of Nursing and usually get your license the same day if your license(s) is in good standing. It's best to contact the Board of Nursing to get up to date information by phone or through their website.

What about a transportation ?

Many people Travel by their own car so it is important to have a reliable vehicle. Some people fly and use a car rental or public transportation when the get there such as in bigger cities where parking can be expensive. Many Travel Nurse Companies will fly a person to their assignment and provide a car rental.
Some people drive their RV's with a car towed behind or tow a Trailer. The Travel Reimbursements and Housing Stipend will usually cover the RV costs. I've been researching this myself but keep in mind it can reduce your flexibility to assignments and how close you can be to your facility.

Moving somewhere new and not knowing anyone could get pretty lonely, do traveling nursing companies offer some sort of programs to get you connected in your new city ?

Yes this is true and something to consider greatly before you travel. I have not seen any company programs myself and I have reviewed all websites of Travel Nurse Companies but there are many Travel Nurse Internet Forums where Travelers connect with other Travelers in different cities. Many Travelers travel with another Traveler for companionship sharing an apartment and saving money or still having separate apartments. I Travel with my wife but still miss home at times.

It's important you research an area before you go there and talk with other Travelers through the Internet Forums who have been there. One person's heaven is another person's hell so take advice with a grain of salt. Also it's important to have housing that is friendly and in a nice environment with amenities which can make up for a lot. I Travel with my laptop which helps me research the area, keep in touch with home, market myself for future assignments. One thing I have learned is that you never know 100% if you will like something until you have done it.

What do you like most about being a traveling nurse ?

I like the freedom, the financial reward, the actual traveling, the challenges, the being able to go places and do things I would never have done or been able to do. Just last December my I went to Brazil to vacation after working in the Virgin Islands, then the Florida Keys and maybe a cruise next or just go home and take a break.

What are the opportunities for advancement as a traveling nurse ?

Actually, opportunities permanent and travel have come my way on a regular basis since I have been traveling. On my first assignment I was a Nurse Manager in AZ which was great opportunity then I worked as a RN Support/Educator for the VA in Los Angeles. It definitely opens doors to new opportunities.