It’s true: travel nursing is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after medical careers available. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nursing profession as a whole is projected to grow much faster than others with an expected 15% jump between 2016 and 2026.
Between the high demand for skilled nurses, excellent pay, tax breaks and adventure, there are many great things to know about travel nursing.
In this article, we’ll cover a wide variety of the best tips for travel nursing so you can make the most of your profession.
The life of a travel nurse is both endlessly exciting and deeply fulfilling. Whether you’re wondering how to be a travel nurse, how to gain traveling nurse experience, or how to make the most of your tax breaks, we have you covered.
How to Be a Travel Nurse
If you are already working as a travel nurse, skip ahead to the next section. If you’re still considering the profession and wondering how to get started, this is for you.
First, you should know that while many hospitals prefer nurses who have obtained their Bachelor’s degree (BSN), it is not required in all cases.
Most employers require that you have at least one year of practice in a bedside nursing position before becoming eligible for travel nursing. You can gain this experience in a number of ways!
You will be required to hold certifications in a number of areas to be eligible for some travel nursing jobs:
- Basic Life Support (BLS)
- Additionally, some facilities require other certifications such as the NIH stroke certification and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).
- You may consider getting a certification in your nursing specialty to make you a more enticing candidate for assignments.
You also want to stay up to date on your continuing education. Since you’ll be traveling a lot, having a current license (possibly in an NLC state) also ensures you’re in great shape to get assignments.
Finally, you will need to be flexible and enjoy traveling in order to fulfill the obligations of this profession. It may seem obvious, but flexibility is one of the main elements of success in a job like this!
Travel Nursing Interview Tips
One of the best ways you can begin preparing for travel nursing jobs is to interview with agencies. The best travel nursing agencies support your career by finding you the perfect assignments, assisting with housing, growing your network and so much more.
The interview process is just as valuable for you as it is for them. As their hiring manager is evaluating you, you should also be evaluating the agency. Every company is different so be sure to take your time and find the right team for you.
Prepare for these meetings with some of our tried and tested travel nursing interview tips:
1. Establish rapport with the hiring manager by researching their background.
2. Research the company at length.
3. Do your homework about the position(s) the agency may ask you to fill.
4. Set yourself up for interview success by preparing answers to commonly asked questions.
Travel Nurse Packing Tips
Once you’re working and ready to hit the road, you’ll want to implement some of our favorite travel nurse packing tips. These will help lighten the load while making sure you don’t forget anything essential:
5. Remember your important documents.
- Driver’s license
- Social security card
- Car insurance
- Insurance policy
- Roadside assistance agreement when applicable
- Contact information for your staffing company and recruiter
- Address and phone number of your new workplace
- Details of your temporary lodging
6. Pack your prescriptions and a small first aid kit.
Remember, less is more! You can always pick up necessities at the local corner store.
7. Your home away from home won’t have toiletries.
Pack just enough health and beauty products to tide you over in case you can’t make it to the store first thing.
8. Bring clothes for work and play.
Try to fit everything you’ll wear into one suitcase. You’d be surprised how much extra clothes you have in the end.
9. Don’t overlook reminders of home.
Bring along a few possessions that mean something to you. When it comes to this tip – remember not to bring anything too valuable or irreplaceable.
One final tip: Remember your chargers!
Travel Nurse Housing Tips
Did you know your staffing agency can help you find the perfect housing? Moving multiple times a year can be a bit tedious but your team is happy to ease the burden.
Here are our tips for making the most of your team’s Housing Department – they’re there just for this purpose!
10. Help your representative get to know your housing needs by answering a few questions.
- Are you traveling with anyone?
- Do you have any pets? If yes, how many and what kind?
- When do you plan to move?
- What type of housing do you want to live in?
- Do you have any special requests such as no stairs or quiet neighborhoods only, for example?
11. Let your representative do the heavy lifting by finding housing options and negotiating rental agreements for you.
12. Ask the important questions so you’re totally informed.
- Are utilities covered and will there be cable and internet?
- Can I choose housing that is fully furnished?
- How do I get a stipend?
Travel Nursing Tax Tips
Doing your taxes may be boring to most, but keeping more money in your bank account is definitely exciting! And guess what…you don’t even have to do your own taxes to reap the benefits of our travel nursing tax tips. A bit of organization is all it takes. Here’s how we recommend saving big by maximizing your deductions:
13. Make sure you establish a “tax home”.
Having a permanent residence on file ensures you can prove everywhere else you go and stay are job-related.
14. Save every receipt from any travel related expense you have.
This includes everything from transportation, meals, and even associated tips. Use an app on your phone like this one to go paperless.
15. You’ll also want to keep track of any professional expenses you ring up.
Put your app to work and snap a photo of your receipt any time you purchase uniforms (dry cleaning counts!), educational resources, licensing fees – the list goes on and on.
Finally, we recommend hiring a professional to help ensure you get the full benefit of your many tax breaks.
Travel Safety Tips
Being on the road as much as travel nurses are means paying attention to safety is a top priority. Staying safe while traveling has a lot to do with preparation and information. We’ve compiled some excellent travel safety tips for you to ensure you feel safe while on assignment.
16. Take time to explore your surroundings during the daytime.
17. Locate the nearest hospital and know your route.
18. Be sure to know evacuation instructions and fire exits.
19. Learn about which areas are not considered safe and avoid them.
20. Do not invite people to your location; meet them in public areas instead.
21. Avoid heavy drinking and stay sharp.
22. Always keep your phone fully charged and carry an external charger (if possible).
23. Scan your vehicle (inside, under, sides, front and back) before entering.
24. Don’t park next to vans or other large vehicles.
25. Use crosswalks and do not use your cell phone while crossing the street.
26. Carry a flashlight at all times, even during the day (the one on your phone may suffice).
27. When walking in a parking garage, walk far enough away from other cars so you are not at arm’s length of an attacker.
Looking for even more safety tips? We dedicated an entire article to this topic since our nurses are always on the go.
Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun and make friends! Working in new places 3-4 times a year means you’ll experience new cultures, new sights, and new people.
We hope these travel nursing tips support you as you enjoy a career in this field. Help the tips work for you by modifying them to fit your travel lifestyle! Make the most of your time as a travel nurse:
- Practice communication skills regularly to excel in interviews, acclimate to new work environments/teams and provide the best service to your patients.
- Pack light but don’t forget your important documents!
- Make use of your agency’s Housing Department to streamline the process of finding accommodations during assignments.
- Keep your receipts because almost everything related to your work is a tax write off.
- Stay safe while traveling by avoiding low-lit areas, always locking your doors and being vigilant about your surroundings.
Do you have any helpful travel nursing tips to add to our list?
Share with us in the comments below!