10 Excellent Pros (and Cons) of Travel Nursing Careers

Young professional checking her phone at the airport

If you’re starting your job search and looking for a profession that offers both adventure and stability, then you should consider all the pros and cons by doing some research on travel nursing blogs, forums, or with your peers.

With an endless number of pros and very few cons, a travel nursing career equates to great pay and limitless opportunities!

The most notable advantages of being a traveling nurse 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 the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for registered nurses is expected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2023.

So, is a travel nursing job worth it?

Let’s take a look at the ten excellent pros and cons of travel nursing to determine if it is right for you!

(If you’re curious and want to learn more about beginning your career as a travel nurse, make sure to contact us now to speak to a recruiter)

 


What are the Pros of Travel Nursing?

1: Travel Opportunities

Travel nursing jobs can be found in any city imaginable. That means you have a multitude of opportunities all over the United States to pick and choose your next adventure.

Maybe you want to spend some time in a bustling city like New York, San Francisco, or Chicago. You can find a job there.

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 the season! In this case, the 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 travel assignment on anything you’d like:

  • weather
  • hobbies
  • interests

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!


Female nurse helping a male patient

2. Professional Growth

The travel nursing career 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 medical 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

SEE ALSO: 9 Ways to Get Nursing Experience as a Travel Nurse

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 contract 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 at different facilities.

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.


Woman cheering with money flying around her

3. Pay and Benefits

The average travel nurse salary could reach as high as $103,893 a year, according to Payscale.com. That’s around double what a regular licensed nurse earns—$43,170 per year.

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
  • bonuses
  • deals and discounts
  • and more.

SEE ALSO: Why the Average Travel Nurse Salary Will Surprise You

Basically, by the time you add everything up, including your housing, health insurance for travel nurses, 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.


4. Freedom and Flexibility

We already talked about adventure, but what about the freedom to choose what you want, when you want, and where you want.

As a 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 registered nurse, 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.


Cityscape with large water fountain

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. Consider locating to fascinating cities and become a travel nurse in Winston-Salem, NC, where nurses make $2,623/week

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.


6. Avoiding Work Politics

One of the difficult parts of working in a hospital is 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 travel nursing 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 13weeks 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.

SEE ALSO: 4 Ways to Reduce Stress While Traveling as a Nurse


Young parents in the NICU

7. 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 skill set 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 help patients with breastfeeding after the baby is born.


8. 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.

 


9. Resume Building

Are you ready to upgrade your nursing resume? A travel nurse career is a great resume builder.

Travel nurses possess a skill set 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.

SEE ALSO: 7 Tips for Making Your Travel Nursing Resume Stand Out

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.


Group of young professionals having coffee

10.  Meeting New People

Finally, the travel nurse lifestyle is ideal for anyone who loves to get to know new people.

Whether you just graduated from your nursing program or have been out of school for years, 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 places, 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 that you can visit whenever you have a chance.

11. Professional Growth

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! Plus, with each stint, you can learn new skills that you could add to your resume.


What are the Cons of Travel Nursing?

1: Finding Travel Opportunities

It’s hard to find a con when it comes to adventure! However, finding the perfect location that matches your career goals and lifestyle needs can be difficult. MAS Medical Staffing offers 24/7 access to our dedicated team of recruiters who can connect you to the best opportunities. Think about all of the things  you can embrace moving on to a new place and assignment every few months—it is an exciting way to build a career.


2. Having No Base Salary or Benefits

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.

You can also partner with a travel nurse agency like MAS Medical Staffing who offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes relocation stipends, health insurance, 401(k) plans, and so much more! We’ve got you covered so you can further your career in nursing.


3. Time Away from Loved Ones

When it comes to the pros and cons of travel nursing jobs, time spent with family and loved ones 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!

4. Assigned to a State You Don’t Like

In very rare cases, there may only be positions in highdemand areas. While it’s very unlikely, it is possible that none of those locations appeal to you. If you’re curious about which locations are searching for travel nurse positions, make sure you contact recruiters at MAS Medical Staffing to learn about our retirement savings, travel reimbursement, and long-term contracts that we provide.

5. Adjusting to a New Environment

Being the “new nurse” may be a bit of a challenge at first. Honing your adaptability through experience ensures you fit in anywhere. Pairing with a mentor or companion will also help you develop soft skills as you learn the ropes of the organization.


6. Learning Curve

If you’re thinking that trying new specialties can’t possibly have a con, you’re right! Knowledge is power. However, there are some skills that require more time to refine. Transform your mindset to think of these instances as challenges that you can overcome. With practice, you’ll eventually be able to develop these skills.

7. Cost of Moving Homes

There’s just one thing to remember when it comes to housing; you have to bring all of your personal items with you. The cost of moving can vary depending on the state. Some areas might be cheaper while others may outweigh the pay offer. If you think you’ll struggle with this, check out our travel nurse packing list.

8.  Being in Unfamiliar Neighborhoods

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.


Is Travel Nursing Worth It?

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:

  1. Endless adventure
  2. Professional growth
  3. Great pay and benefits
  4. Freedom and flexibility
  5. High demand locations
  6. Avoiding work politics
  7. Trying new specialties
  8. Affordable housing
  9. Resume building
  10. Meeting new people

Then the travel nurse lifestyle is right for you!

Contact A Recruiter
 
SEE ALSO: How Do Travel Staffing Agencies Work for Your Ultimate Benefit?

What are the pros and cons of travel nursing that you have encountered?

Share with us in the comments below!

Reviewed By:

Avatar

Nick Gypsy, Travel Nurse Recruiter

Nick was a former traveler turned nurse recruiter, having completed 32 assignments and 13 FEMA Crisis deployments specializing in Long Term Acute Care and the critical care unit. While traveling, he was able to finish nursing school and further his career debt-free. Nick was able to do all of this for a career of his passion. He began blogging about his experience and providing advice through the social media platform TikTok under the username NickMurse. Nick has gained a mass following of over 100,000 travel nurses. He started with MAS in early August 2021 and has enjoyed sharing his insight with his travel nurses. Nick lives in coastal Florida, and in his spare time, he enjoys going to the beach and traveling.

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