If you’re looking for a profession that offers both adventure and stability, then you should consider all the pros and cons of travel nursing.
With an endless number of pros and very few cons, the travel nursing profession equates to great pay and limitless opportunities!
The most notable advantages of travel nursing are the ability to spend time traveling around the U.S. working in a diverse range of environments, and forming lasting friendships that you can’t find in many other environments.
What’s more, it’s an in-demand career field.
According to Phil Galewitz in his USA Today article titled “Demand for travel nurses hits a 20-year high,” between 2015 and 2016, the need for travel nurses was expected to increase by 10 percent.
Is travel nursing worth it?
Let’s take a look at the ten excellent pros and cons of travel nursing to determine if is right for you!
(Side note: stay connected as a travel nurse with our Inspired Traveler community on Facebook!)
1. Great Pay and Benefits
But pay for travel nurses isn’t just about your base salary.
Travel nurses can also expect many incredible salary benefits:
- tax-free stipends
- generous reimbursements
- healthcare and retirement benefits
- tax breaks
- deals and discounts
- and more.
Basically, by the time you add everything up including your housing, health insurance, and competitive salary package, it’s a very lucrative career.
And when tax time rolls around, you also get to enjoy many different travel nurse tax deductions. Just remember, these deductions can vary by location.
Con: When it comes to pay, the only potential con for travel nursing is minimal: no salary.
This means that travel nurses cannot count on the expected incremental pay raises that come with a salaried position.
Luckily, the more experience you gain as a travel nurse, the higher paying assignments you can take. This is essentially the same as earning raises in a static position based on time spent at the job.
2: Endless Adventure
Travel nursing jobs can be found in any city imaginable. That means you have a multitude of opportunities to pick and choose your next adventure.
Or, perhaps, a small town with charm and a slow lifestyle has more appeal (think: New England). They need travel nurses, too.
Even better, as a travel nurse, you don’t have to limit your travel based on season! In this case, pros and cons of travel nursing in your area are irrelevant because you can change “your area” at any time.
Let’s say you’re a snow bunny. The best places to travel in the winter include many incredible nursing opportunities as well.
For example, Denver, Colorado offers access to some of the top world-class ski resorts in the world, including Telluride, Aspen, and Vail. And it also has access to top-ranked hospitals such as Porter Adventist Hospital.
Basically, as a travel nurse you can base your assignments off of anything you’d like:
Some travel nurses enjoy the “snowbird” lifestyle, while others travel to where they can hike, scuba dive, surf, or explore their favorite historical museums to their heart’s content.
It’s up to you!
Con: It’s hard to find a con when it comes to adventure! However, you may be a professional who prefers a routine over ever-changing scenery. Think about whether you can embrace moving on to a new assignment every few months—it is an exciting way to build a career.
3. Professional Growth
The travel nurse lifestyle is ideal for individuals who want to work at different facilities and gain unique experiences.
Travel nurses can choose from a plethora of environments.
Want to work at a large-scale teaching facility? You can do that.
Or, maybe you’re more interested in a rural facility that requires you to stretch your skills to the limit? That’s an option too.
There’s no limit to the type of experience you can gain as a travel nurse.
- You’ll learn how to be more flexible in different settings
- Enhance your cultural competency
- Gain more independence
- Develop your people skills
- Acquire new skills and specializations
In addition, there’s increased demand for nurses experienced in emergency departments, intensive care, and other specialty areas.
In some parts of the country, these jobs may be difficult to obtain or limited in opportunity, but as a travel nurse, you can travel to where the job is located instead of waiting for it to come to you.
Travel nurse jobs can vary greatly from one region of the country to another—this includes dealing with different diseases, special cases, and operations.
By traveling, you gain exposure to a little bit of everything, meaning that when and if you finally decide to settle down, you’ll have a far more vast array of professional experience than your peers.
Even McKinsey & Company places improved nursing skills at the top of the priority list for hospitals, and a travel nurse lifestyle is the perfect start.
Con: The traditional route for gaining professional experience often includes a lengthy stint with a single employer. In most other professions, bouncing around from employer to employer is frowned upon. However, travel nursing is one career that favors the number of employers for whom you have worked!
4. Freedom and Flexibility
We already talked about adventure, but what about the freedom to choose what you want, when you want, where you want.
As a travel travel nurse, you are only limited by your own choices. That’s why being a travel nurse with a family is actually a realistic possibility.
When you choose your different travel assignments, you also choose when to take time off and spend time with your family and friends.
As a regular RN, you’re limited by your vacation time and the business of your organization. On the other hand, a travel nurse has the flexibility to choose how much they want to work.
This can be especially beneficial when life presents unexpected challenges.
For example, what happens if an emergency family situation comes up that requires you to take months off of work? As a travel nurse you can work that into your schedule and change your assignments to be near your family, so you can be there as needed.
Con: When it comes to the pros and cons of travel nursing jobs, time spent with family is an important thing to note. On the surface, it may seem difficult to be a travel nurse with a family. In fact, the freedom and flexibility makes this a unique opportunity for a family with a sense of adventure!
5. High Demand Locations
As a travel nurse, you don’t have to depend on location.
Instead, you can choose assignments only in the best places to live as a nurse.
For example, you can head to San Francisco where nurses make the highest pay—$133,000 per year on average—and where you can explore such sights as Fisherman’s Wharf, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Mission Hill.
Or you can even choose to head to Chicago, where nursing is one of the top jobs in demand, and where you’ll get to enjoy a city full of art, music museums, festivals, and more.
And if you end up having a hard time finding new travel nurse jobs in your current location, you can easily pack up your bags and move to a new location and facility that better fits your changing needs.
Con: In very rare cases, there may only be positions in high demand areas. While it’s very unlikely, it is possible that none of those locations appeal to you.
6. Avoiding Work Politics
One of the difficult parts of working in a hospital are the politics and management issues.
For most nurses, you see the same people and issues day in and day out, meaning you’re constantly embroiled in drama, whether you want to be or not.
Not so for a travel nurse.
When you travel from job to job, you’re able to focus more closely on patient care and avoid all the hospital politics. And if you find yourself in a hospital or clinic where the drama is overwhelming, that’s the blessing of short-term contracts.
It’s already been stated that burnout and compassion fatigue are common among nurses, but you can decrease that potential as a travel nurse who only spends 13-weeks at a time in a location.
This lets you get back to the real reason you became a nurse in the first place—patient care. You can get back to basics and say goodbye to hospital politics that can drag you through the mud and make you miserable.
Con: Being the “new nurse” may be a bit of a challenge at first. Honing your adaptability through experience ensures you fit in anywhere.
7. Trying New Specialties
Sometimes nursing can become boring when you’re stuck in the same specialty year-after-year. It’s especially easy to get stuck when only a few specialties that interest you are available in your hometown.
Travel nurses have an almost unlimited array of specialties they can choose from.
You can choose a specialty based on which one pays the most, or you can even choose your specialty based on its rarity—giving you a unique skillset that would be hard to deny.
For example, have you ever considered being a labor and delivery nurse? As a travel nurse, you can work at some of the top hospitals that prepare women and their families for the stages of birth, and helping patients with breastfeeding after the baby is born.
Con: If you’re thinking that trying new specialties can’t possible have a con, you’re right! Knowledge is power.
8. Affordable Housing
Being a travel nurse means that you get to remove one of the biggest stressors that most people face: housing.
In general, travel nurse housing is provided with your job. That means you don’t have to find a new home everywhere you move.
Common living expenses are eliminated or dramatically decreased as a travel nurse. In fact, in many cases, you’re provided with a fully-furnished home wherever you go.
It’s also an excellent option for anyone who doesn’t know where they want to make their permanent home.
With travel nurse housing, you can set down short-term roots in a variety of locations around the country or even around each state until you discover the pros and cons of each area and are able to choose the location that best fits your needs.
Con: There’s just one thing to remember when it comes to housing; you have to bring all of your personal items with you. If you think you’ll struggle with this, check out our travel nurse packing list.
9. Resume Building
Are you ready to upgrade your nursing resume? A travel nurse career is a great resume builder.
Travel nurses possess a skillset like few other individuals. Just think, how many nurses have experienced a small critical-access hospital setting and a large teaching hospital?
Between your professional contacts, range of on-the-job skills, and experience in a variety of environments, a travel nurse resume stands out in the crowd.
Plus, as a travel nurse, you’ll typically have far more confidence when it comes to interviews since you’re used to meeting new people and making new friends everywhere you move.
You know what it takes to learn from others at every job and how to take control of situations because you’re used to walking into a hospital and learning as you go.
All of those skills and abilities will not only make you a better nurse, but they’ll enhance your resume and make you a killer interviewee.
Con: Keeping your resume up to date takes more effort than most professions since you’re constantly gaining new experience in new facilities. In addition, make sure you’re prepared for your interviews with our travel nursing interview questions.
10. Meeting New People
Finally, the travel nurse lifestyle is ideal for anyone who loves to get to know new people.
At each location, you’ll meet new colleagues at the facility where you work, and you’ll make new friends outside the office.
Travel nursing puts you in touch with people that you would never meet otherwise—people from different cultures, neighborhoods, interests, and hobbies.
The options are endless when traveling and you’ll find yourself with budding friendships and relationships all around the country who you can visit whenever you have a chance.
Con: Being on the road also means you aren’t near your hometown friends as much as you may like to be. The great news is that you can spend your extended breaks between assignments visiting them without work interruptions.
As a travel nurse, you have a fun and flexible lifestyle that few people can boast. But more than that, it’s a great way to build up your career and experience in ways that you could never imagine.
So, if you love:
- Great pay and benefits
- Endless adventure
- Professional growth
- Freedom and flexibility
- High demand locations
- Avoiding work politics
- Trying new specialties
- Affordable housing
- Resume building
- Meeting new people
Then the travel nurse lifestyle is right for you!
What are the pros and cons of travel nursing that you have encountered?
Share with us in the comments below!