Finding Your Ideal Travel Nurse Contract Length: A Comprehensive Guide

Travel nurses fill in the gaps for healthcare providers struggling with staffing shortages. The average travel nurse contract length is relatively short, so you won’t stay in the same place for too long. Many nurses love this approach because it allows them to explore different cities and grow their professional network. 

This flexibility is a big draw for many in the field. Imagine being able to experience the bustling life of a big city hospital and then, a few months later, finding yourself in a cozy, community-based facility. Each assignment brings new challenges and learning opportunities, making every day an adventure. Plus, the variety of experiences is a fantastic way to build a diverse skill set, which can be a huge advantage in your nursing career.

But just how long are travel nursing assignments, exactly? Let’s find out. 

How Long Are Travel Nurse Contracts?

There are both short-term and long-term travel nursing contracts available. The shortest travel nursing contracts can be six weeks or less, while the longest ones last for a year. However, these contracts are rare. 

The average travel contract length is 13 weeks. Many of these contracts have the option for an additional 13-week extension, totaling 26 weeks. This gives travel nurses the ability to stay longer if they’re happy with a contract. 

13-Week Travel Nursing Assignments: The “Magic Number”

When beginning a new travel nursing assignment, it’s normal to wonder, “How long will travel nursing last at my assigned facility?” Well, this often comes down to their needs. 

As highlighted above, the most common travel nurse contract length is 13 weeks, and there are many reasons why this is considered the sweet spot for travel nurses. 

Many hospitals will hire travel nurses to fill in while they train new permanent nurses. It’s also common for travel nurses to fill in for staff on family leave. 

In most cases, both orientation and family leave are 12 weeks long. A 13-week travel nurse contract is perfect for this situation. It provides coverage while the permanent staff member is unavailable, with an extra transition week to ensure things run smoothly. 

Practicality is another reason for the 13-week contract length. Many short-term apartment rentals last for 13 weeks, which makes it easier for nurses to find housing.

Additionally, 13 weeks gives the nurse plenty of time to adjust to their new role and city.  

How Long Do Traveling Nurses Stay in One Place?

Travel nursing contracts typically last less than a year. However, if you wish to extend your assignment beyond this period, you can request an extension through your staffing agency. These requests are subject to approval by the healthcare facility and staffing agency. As a travel nurse, time off between contracts is a standard practice that allows you to rest, recharge, and prepare for your next assignment.

Things to Consider When Extending Contracts

So, how often do travel nurses travel from one assignment to the next? Sometimes, it doesn’t just boil down to contract length. It may have to do with personal preference.

When a travel nursing contract ends, you must decide whether to extend that contract or move on to another assignment. Of course, some contracts won’t have the option for an extension. In this case, you’ll need to move on to another assignment. However, extending your contract can be a good decision if you’re satisfied with your current location. Here’s what to consider before extending a travel nursing contract.


Housing is one of the most important factors when considering future travel nursing contracts. If you plan to extend your nursing assignment, ensure you also have the option to renew your housing contract. If you don’t, you should make sure you can find another short-term housing option before extending your contract. If you’re struggling to find housing that works for you, talk to your staffing agency. They will likely be able to help you solve the problem. 

You should also consider whether you’re happy with your current housing situation—do you have enough space? Is your commute reasonable? If you’re unhappy with the housing options in your current location, you may want to consider ending your current contract and looking for another travel nursing assignment. For example, if you’re currently based in a small apartment but would like to live in a larger house, consider looking for assignments in a suburban area rather than a big city. 

Job Satisfaction:

Next, deciding whether you’re happy with your current assignment is essential. If you’re satisfied with your work and have rewarding patient interactions, that could be a great incentive to stay at your current assignment. However, if you’re consistently frustrated at work or constantly thinking about new opportunities, it’s likely an indication that you would be happier working elsewhere. 

It’s also important to consider your relationships with your supervisors and coworkers. Positive relationships with your team could be another good reason to extend your contract. 

Financial Incentives

When deciding whether to renew a contract or seek new opportunities, weighing the financial benefits is crucial. One of the most significant advantages of working as a travel nurse is the compensation. Travel nursing contracts typically pay very well because hospitals must urgently fill these nursing vacancies. However, remember that there can be breaks between contracts where you won’t be working. 

When deciding whether or not to stay at a nursing assignment, consider whether you’re happy with your current compensation. Is it enough for you to live comfortably in your current location? Are you able to save and work towards long-term financial goals? If not, consider looking for other contracts that will adequately meet your needs. 

Work/Life Balance

Work/life balance is necessary for anyone, especially when working in a high-stress job like nursing. Before extending your travel nursing contract, ensure you’re content with your current work/life balance level. At a minimum, you should have enough time to rest and recuperate between shifts. You should also get adequate breaks during shifts to prevent burnout. 

Ideally, your nursing assignments should also provide enough time off for you to enjoy your hobbies and socialize with friends. You can perform your best at work when you have adequate time off. Your employer should also be able to accommodate reasonable requests for time off, especially in the case of a medical or family emergency. If your current assignment doesn’t offer an ideal work/life balance, consider looking for another contract. Be sure to ask about work/life balance during your negotiations to avoid scheduling surprises.  

Professional Growth Opportunities

Another benefit of working as a travel nurse is the opportunity to broaden your professional horizons. At each assignment, you’ll learn new skills to bolster your resume. You’ll also make meaningful connections that could help you land more work in the future. 

When evaluating your contract options, be sure to keep these professional growth opportunities in mind. The opportunity to train in a new specialty or make valuable connections could incentivize extending a contract. 

Negotiating Contract Terms

You may have the option to renegotiate the terms of your travel nursing contract before renewing it. This is an opportune time to address any concerns you have with your current assignment. For example, you may be able to negotiate higher pay or more time off, especially if the facility is particularly short-staffed. 

If you’re considering renewing your contract, find out whether you can negotiate in advance. This will help you determine how you want to proceed. 

Tips for Making the Most of Your Time

Each travel nursing assignment presents many opportunities. Make the most of your time, whether you’re around for 13 weeks or 26. Here are some tips to really get the most out of each travel nursing contract.

Network With Coworkers

While working as a travel nurse, you’ll meet other healthcare professionals from all over the country. Network as much as you can with your fellow staff members. You never know when you’ll run into them again; those connections can help you further your career in the long run. Your fellow travel nurses can also provide helpful career advice and support as you adjust to this lifestyle. 

Find Professional Development Opportunities

Look for professional development opportunities at your current travel nursing assignment that you might not get at home. For example, your current healthcare practice might offer unique training or certification opportunities. This is a very effective way to bolster your resume and learn valuable new skills. 

Explore The Area

Every city and town has its own unique culture. With travel nursing, you’ll explore exciting new places and meet many different types of people. In your free time, take advantage of everything your area offers. This could be anything from exploring museums, trying new foods, or going on outdoor adventures. 

Find Travel Nurse Jobs At Triage 

As a travel nurse, seeking assignments with a contract length that suits your personal and professional needs is essential. That’s where Triage comes in. We connect talented healthcare professionals with top-rated facilities all across the country. Our travel nurse agency works tirelessly to match you with the perfect assignment and support you throughout your journey. 

If you’re interested in travel nurse jobs, there’s never been a better time to get started. With an increasing demand for healthcare professionals nationwide, the availability of travel nurse gigs is at an all-time high! Get in touch today to learn more and find the right travel nursing contract for you.