Travel nursing is a fantastic opportunity for nurses to gain new skills in various facilities, learn new treatments and procedures for different medical conditions, receive excellent pay packages and benefits, and cross cities off their bucket lists as they travel around the country. There will never be a demand shortage for a diverse range of skilled healthcare workers. However, as lucrative as travel nursing is, many married nurses and those with children don’t consider it a viable career path.
Some registered nurses consider travel nursing to be a niche profession. Still, more and more professionals are joining the field every year, and nurses can take advantage of opportunities in states where healthcare systems need nurses to meet high demands. This year alone has seen a 19% growth rate in travel nursing jobs, providing numerous opportunities in today’s healthcare environment for exploring new locations while pursuing your passion.
Even so, there is still a misconception that traveling nurses are always on the go and can’t make time for their loved ones. But with some tips and tricks of the trade as resources to guide potential travelers through the process, even the wariest of nurses will understand just how much flexibility and control travel nurses have to make their careers work for them—regardless of their familial circumstances.
If you are still determining if this career path will suit your lifestyle, keep reading to see if travel nursing is the right fit for you and your family.
Why More Families Should Consider Travel Nursing
For travel nurses, having family around means feeling supported while entering new and sometimes uncertain environments. But it isn’t just valuable for the nurse. Family members of travel nurses gain the travel benefits of travel nursing when they accompany their family members on assignments, and with remote workstyles becoming the norm in many industries, traveling together is more possible than ever before
With a little advanced planning and creativity, you can unlock amazing opportunities for your With a little advanced planning and creativity, you can unlock incredible opportunities for your family to experience your career’s best moments. Travel nursing puts the power back in nurses’ hands, helping them prioritize their professional and personal lives with their families right by their side. While travel nursing might not be the ideal fit for every family, it’s undoubtedly an incredible option for many.
Preparing Your Family For The Traveling Life
Whether traveling with a significant other, with children, or both, there are a few things to consider and set up in advance to ensure you all have an amazing adventure.
Ensure Your Family Is Ready To Travel. Think of them as patients and have their health checked before you start traveling so you know they’re fit to join you on the road. Consult your primary care doctor or pediatrician to assess and double-check if family members have the green light to travel and ensure you will have access to prescription refills even if you are out of state and away from your regular pharmacy.
If you’re traveling with children, consider any events they may be missing. If you’re taking a long-term contract, consider how that can impact their education. Will they need to be enrolled in a different school? Can you set them up with a tutor or a virtual school option? Travel nurses often take assignments near home during the school year and assignments away from home in the summer when their children have more flexibility. On the other hand, nurses can take a long-term 24-month contract in a new location with great schools to give their children more educational opportunities.
Regardless of the ages of your family members, be sure to consider how being away from home will impact them, and make sure to gather all paperwork and necessities, including identification, up-to-date vaccination records, medications, food, and water.
Plan The Journey With Them In Mind. Whether driving or flying to your next travel nurse assignment, having your kids, significant other, or all of the above changes the dynamic. The journey, while doable, can be exhausting for everyone, especially young children stuck in a car going cross country! Research your route and incorporate a few entertaining stops to take a break, stretch your legs, and get them excited about traveling. If you’ve signed up with a traveling nurse agency, they might have a few ideas of what to do depending on where you’re headed. Fun activities are also great to keep everyone refreshed, relaxed, and excited about traveling.
Will They Be Comfortable? Like your patients, your loved ones will want your attention if they accompany you during your travels. Being in a new location together calls for some quality time exploring—this is where research comes in again. There are guaranteed numerous family-friendly events and activities in your temporary place for your family to enjoy. Scoping out the area as soon as possible helps everyone feel less like a stranger in new territory. The last thing you want to do is leave them home alone in new surroundings before they’re comfortable.
Every family is unique, so your additional preparation depends on the scope and size of your family, but traveling together is very doable. Again, communicating with your agency about what your family requires will make the process smoother for everyone.
Make Your Location Work for Your Family
There are a wide variety of options open to travel nurses, and you can take ownership of your contract schedules to suit the needs of your loved ones. A standard assignment is 13 weeks, but there are many out there for shorter or longer periods, including 8 or 26 weeks. So, for example, you can choose shorter contracts over the summer when your kids aren’t in school and create a memorable yet sustainable summer vacation for the whole family in an area you want to spend time exploring.
And while you can select a wide variety of locations, you don’t have to go thousands of miles from home to find good opportunities (contrary to what many believe). Travel nurses can even find assignments within driving distance of their homes, so they can have all the benefits of travel nursing without having to relocate entirely. In addition, if you sign up with an agency, they can help you streamline your search by destination to find the perfect accommodations.
Accommodations and Childcare
In addition to the location, when you sign up to work with a travel nursing agency, they’re always ready to help however they can. Your recruiters—or “traveler advocates” as we call them at Nurse First—usually find travel nurse housing. However, these options usually only lodge an individual or a couple. Luckily, you can request a housing stipend instead. You can use this stipend to rent an apartment or other accommodation (like an Airbnb) that will suit your needs. But keep in mind that this could require some out-of-pocket expenses. Your travel nursing agency can help connect you with local resources to find the best housing options..
Before signing your contract, explore local schools, childcare centers, and pediatricians. Suppose you are travel nursing during the school year. In that case, some families opt to homeschool their children to maximize their time in each location, enriching their kid’s education with local history, libraries, museums, and other exciting sights. Likewise, bringing your kids with you on your adventures opens them up to cultural experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have, enriching them and their education.
Tips for Single Parents
Being a single parent isn’t impossible as a travel nurse, but it requires some extra planning. Most travel nursing assignments let you choose what hours suit your schedule. Having control of your schedule means you can plan to work while your children are in school and be off the clock when they finish their day. More local assignments are another great option, so you get the benefits of the travel nursing experience only a short drive from home.
No matter what the scenario is, communication and planning are key. Make sure your kids understand your schedule and give your agency as much notice as possible to extend your contract or switch locations. But if you’re looking for an adventure and your kids are older, enjoy a summer break in a brand-new location and let them explore during the day while you work, then meet up in the evenings and on weekends for some fun in the sun!
Maintaining Family Relationships While On Assignment
Establishing your routine on your new assignment and work-life balance are vital aspects of travel nursing with your family. There’s a common misconception that travel nurses must always be on the go, ready to leave everything behind at a moment’s notice. This is certainly not healthy for family dynamics; luckily, it simply isn’t true when it comes to travel nursing. Of course, some things may look different when you’re away and unable to take the family with you, but travel nursing’s flexible nature allows you to make the best of every situation.
Some travelers only work during a specific season or in a particular region, and others are open to more significant changes. In the end, you need to choose what works for you. Extended or short-term assignments allow travel nurses to determine how long they want to be away. Most agencies and recruiters are more than willing to help nurses find the best option to accommodate whoever travelers bring with them.
Travel nursing has many career and lifestyle benefits. So don’t let misleading information about travel nursing stop you from trying something new. When you bring your family in on the fun of travel nursing, you can form memories that will last a lifetime. Just be sure to check with your agency to secure the appropriate accommodation for your needs and get packing! Your next adventure is just around the corner.