Post-graduation my husband and I spent about a year traveling the U.S., moving every three months to whatever location our travel nursing agency could find for us. It was one of the most fun and carefree periods of our partnerships, as well as one of the most stressful.
My husband is an amazing man who loves his career, and loves taking care of me. Which is why when he proposed that we spend a year traveling every 3 months to a new location for his job, I was supportive, and excited for the adventure.
In that year I learned a series of ways to cope as the partner of a travel nurse:
1. Be ready for the unknown
In most cases you are assigned a city and the housing about three weeks before departure. Very rarely are you going to be able to plan what state, city, or area you live in. I found this particularly hard when it came to packing. We downsized our entire life to fit into my husband’s tiny Scion, however, when it came to getting rid of clothes it’s hard to know what to pack when you have no idea about the weather of whatever location you will be in, or during which season!
Pro tip: Ask to choose your own living arrangement and have the housing per diem added to your check. This will allow you to choose what type of location you prefer, avoid expensive areas, and pocket some extra cash!
2. Be flexible with your schedule
Your partner probably won’t get to choose their schedule. More often than not travel nurses are given the rough schedule, as those are the highest in demand by the hospitals. Therefore, expect nights, holidays, and three to four 12-hours shifts in a row.
Pro tip: We looked up ticket prices to go home for the holidays and found that in general traveling home for Thanksgiving proves to be less expensive than for Christmas. It worked out; we spent Thanksgiving in Idaho, and Christmas at the beach in Florida!
3. Consider alternative job options
The most frustrating of all the woes is finding a job while your partner is scheduling his travel nurse assignments. Unfortunately, many agencies do not find a job for both the nurse and their partner. Therefore, you will end up taking positions beneath your education and preference. Honestly, this was one of the hardest things about our experience with travel nursing. It’s really hard to put aside your career, career goals, and a solid salary while your partner works their butt off doing what they love. I constantly felt as if I wasn’t amounting to anything, and was just waiting for him to wake up from his night shift so we could go do stuff.
Pro tip: If you have medical field experience, you can become certified as a medical assistant or something similar. This can allow you to work the same hours as your partner, same area, and actually make a little money! The certification process does not take long, so it’s definitely worth it if you plan to travel for a while.
At the end of the journey, I felt relieved to be home and relieved to stay in one place. I was tired of packing up all of our belongings into a Scion; I was tired of driving across the United States’ and I was tired of not being able to purchase new clothes for fear that they wouldn’t fit the next time we had to pack up. As a spouse of a traveling nurse, I was unable to make friends, and for the first time, I felt like I was solely relying on him and his talents. On that same note, we bonded in a way that only the unknown can do. We saw some amazing things, and met some amazing people. My husband worked his butt off, and became even better at his job. When we returned to Idaho, he was offered 6 different positions because of his travel experience and his ability to float to any floor. Seeing your partner succeed was the most rewarding experience of all.