Is Travel Nursing a Stressful Job? What to Know Before Starting Your Role

Whether you’re about to embark on a new journey as a travel nurse or simply considering the possibility, questions are likely running through your mind. Some may include:

  • “Is travel nursing stressful?”
  • “How many patients can I expect to see?”
  • “What challenges might I run into?”

All of these questions are valid and completely understandable. You want to succeed in your role, and the unknowns of a new position can make it challenging to know what to expect.

That’s why we’ve created this guide as a go-to resource. It covers a wide range of common concerns, from ways to prevent burnout in nursing to the most important things to consider before accepting travel nursing assignments. We’re here to help ease your mind.

Keep scrolling for a complete guide to proactively managing stress and ensuring career satisfaction as a travel nurse.

Is Travel Nursing Stressful?

Travel nursing is often referred to as one of the hardest nursing jobs, but this isn’t necessarily true. Many travel nurses love their jobs and happily flourish in them for many years. 

Your experience as a travel nurse will depend on a myriad of factors. Typically, individuals who are open to new experiences, comfortable in fast-paced environments, and capable of adapting to their surroundings tend to thrive as travel nurses.

However, if you’re a person who prefers a consistent routine or who struggles to adapt to change on short notice, travel nursing will likely overwhelm you.

There are many incredible benefits associated with traveling as a nurse that can’t be experienced in any other healthcare setting. For many nurses, these perks far outweigh the challenges of the role. Exploring the country’s top tourist destinations, increased job flexibility, and higher compensation rates are all desirable advantages. 

Ultimately, the key is determining what matters most to you and what (or how much) you’re willing to compromise. Every nursing position has challenges, but not every job offers a chance to explore the country!

What to Know About Travel Nursing Assignments

Another vital factor to consider when asking, “Is being a nurse stressful?” is how prepared you feel for your next career move. Our fears or reservations about an opportunity often stem from not knowing what to expect.

Here are a few key points to cover when learning about and preparing for a travel nursing assignment:

Assignment Search

There are scores of websites and recruitment agencies that list travel nursing assignments. If you’re wondering where to begin, you aren’t alone. Our advice? Partner with a recruiter and build a long-term relationship. 

Recruiters can advocate for you, act as a liaison between you and a potential employer, and answer questions throughout the application process. They can also help you narrow down the types of positions that align best with your career and lifestyle goals. 

Some travel nursing recruiters are former healthcare professionals, meaning they can spot the most stressful nursing jobs and speak to you candidly about whether or not a position makes sense for you. Triage also staffs clinical liaisons, a group of former travel nurses who are available to help throughout your assignment. 


Remember to align your aspirations with your abilities when pursuing travel nursing assignments. It’s great to have ambition, but biting off more than you can chew could lead to regret. Setting realistic expectations is an absolute must for preventing burnout in nursing, and travel assignments are no exception. 

Ask yourself:

  • “How much overtime am I willing to work?”
  • “Am I willing to work in more demanding departments, like intensive care or emergency rooms?”
  • “Would I prefer to work with a team, or am I okay with positions that require me to work independently?”

Speaking openly with your recruiter about your workload preferences significantly increases the likelihood of finding an assignment that meets your workload wishes.

Location Preferences 

The location you choose for work can profoundly influence your travel nursing experience. While some nurses are attracted to the dynamic vibe of cities, others prefer the quiet serenity of suburbs. You may also want to consider your desired proximity to family and friends. By sharing these location preferences with your recruiter, they can match you with assignments in places where you can truly excel.

Professional Development 

Travel nursing offers growth opportunities beyond the immediate role. When evaluating assignments, think about the skills or practices you can learn, the training or certifications available, and the networking and collaboration potential. Choosing roles that contribute to your professional growth can enrich your resume and pave the way for advanced nursing opportunities.

How to Cope with Stress in Travel Nursing

When embarking on a career in travel nursing, it’s natural to wonder, “What is the least stressful nursing job?” While many nurses might initially seek out destinations they perceive to be less demanding, it’s crucial to recognize that the challenges and rewards of the job often correlate more with location rather than specific specialties.

Here’s what you should consider when evaluating travel nursing locations:

1. High-Demand Locations Often Mean Higher Stress—But Also Higher Pay 

Urban areas or locations with major hospitals frequently come with their unique challenges, like busier ORs or ERs. These settings might correspond with nursing specialties with the highest burnout rates. However, these in-demand environments often offer higher salaries and compensation.

2. Remote or Smaller Locations Could Offer a Different Pace 

If a less intense environment is what you’re seeking, consider destinations in remote or smaller towns. While these places may offer a more relaxed pace, they might also bring unique challenges, such as limited resources or fewer specialized departments.

3. Consider Stress Management, No Matter the Destination or Specialty  

Regardless of your location or specialty, managing stress is essential. Whether you’re working in a high-burnout specialty in a bustling city hospital or a perceived “less stressful” nursing job in a quieter rural clinic, challenges will arise. Equip yourself with stress-reducing techniques and self-care strategies to maintain your well-being wherever your travel nursing journey takes you.

Different locations have unique demands and challenges, so preparing yourself to handle stress and prevent burnout is crucial, no matter where your journey takes you.

Here are our top tips on how to avoid nursing burnout:

Prioritize Mental Health and Self-Awareness

While fulfilling, travel nursing can come with its own stressors; it’s essential to maintain a pulse on your mental health. Regular check-ins with oneself can be a game-changer in identifying signs of burnout early on. 

Consider setting aside time each week for self-reflection or journaling. Engage in activities that rejuvenate your spirit, whether seeking therapy, attending workshops, or joining mindfulness sessions. Recognizing and addressing emotional fatigue and burnout symptoms early is crucial. By prioritizing your mental well-being, you ensure your health and continue providing the best care for your patients.

Know Your Limits

Setting clear physical and emotional wellness boundaries can prevent burnout. Whether it’s turning off your cell phone for two hours while you aren’t at work (and not on call), limiting the number of extra shifts you agree to take on, or ensuring you take all your scheduled meal breaks, upholding your boundaries and communicating them with your employer is one of the best ways to mitigate stress.

It’s also worth noting that a well-structured routine optimizes time management, making it easier to tackle tasks efficiently. This reduces stress levels and creates more space for self-care and relaxation, allowing you to maintain a positive mental state.

Use a Staffing Agency

Reputable travel nursing recruiters profoundly understand hospital cultures, workload norms, and available support systems. Leveraging this knowledge, they tailor assignments to your strengths and preferences, helping you avoid potential sources of burnout.

Coordinating the logistics of travel nursing can be stressful. While you may have to handle accommodations, typically through stipends, and apply for the necessary licensing independently, an experienced recruiter can guide you through the process and even offer reimbursements for licensing costs when you apply. The key is to stay organized and communicate closely with your recruiter for the support you may need.

Establish a Routine

As a travel nurse, it’s essential to have enough time for self-care, enjoyment, and exploration to refill your cup and serve your patients at your very best. 

Remember, routines don’t need to be rigid or all-consuming to be effective. Making time for a 10-minute morning meditation or ending the day with a candlelit bath can significantly alleviate stress and improve overall mood.

Connect with Coworkers

No one understands the challenges of your career more than your fellow travel nurses. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to build interpersonal relationships with coworkers when possible. Having people you can talk to, learn from, and share experiences is vital for your happiness and well-being in your role. 

Additionally, your coworkers are uniquely qualified to help you navigate professional challenges. They may be more familiar with the local dynamics and can guide you on how to best navigate your new workplace. They can also assist you with problem-solving in critical situations that would be far more stressful if managed on your own.

Find Your Next Assignment with Triage Staffing

Now that we’ve covered the ins and outs of travel nursing, you may be curious about working with us. This is our favorite part of the conversation!

At Triage Staffing, we connect travel nurses with employment and offer a full range of services to ensure they have the best possible experience while on assignment. 

Here’s what you can expect if you partner with us:

1. A Single Point of Contact 

We like to think of ourselves as being the ultimate bridge between highly skilled nurses and top-tier healthcare institutions. We make it easier for nurses to find placements they’ll enjoy through seamless communication, in-depth skill assessments, and unparalleled support. We also make it easy for our facilities to find reliable and capable travel nurses by managing the entire hiring process for them!

2. Clinical Liaisons

Before finalizing any assignment with us, our clinical liaisons are at the forefront, ready to engage in a detailed discussion with you. This proactive approach is designed to fully understand your specific skills, experiences, and preferences. By fostering this initial interaction, we dive deep into your professional background, ensuring that the assignment presented to you resonates well with your qualifications and expertise. Such meticulous pairing not only boosts your confidence in the role but also ensures that when you embark on this new assignment, the transition is smooth, efficient, and free from unnecessary hiccups. This tailored experience serves as a testament to our commitment to placing our nurses in environments where they are best suited and can thrive.

3. Housing Stipend

Triage believes in empowering our travel nurses. Instead of dictating or providing predetermined housing, we hand over the reins to our nurses with a housing stipend. The freedom that comes with the housing stipend means you can opt for accommodations that suit your lifestyle. Whether you prioritize amenities, proximity to work, or the vibe of a particular area, the choice is entirely in your hands. This approach ensures that you can choose a place that truly feels like ‘home’ to you, aligning with your preferences and comfort levels. 

4. Health Care Benefits

When you partner with Triage, you’re technically our employee, giving you access to our comprehensive health coverage plan. Vision, dental, 401Ks—we’ve got it all. Have questions? Just contact us directly. We’ll work with you to ensure you have access to everything you need when you need it.

Have questions about travel nurse jobs we haven’t answered here? We encourage you to reach out. One of our expert recruiters would be happy to get you where you want to go.