Travel Nursing Career Advice: 7 Essential Tips for Success

A career in travel nursing offers you the unique opportunity to combine your passion for helping others with the excitement of exploring new destinations, meeting new people, and gaining valuable clinical experience. That being said, as rewarding as this career can be, there are also some challenges to being a traveling nurse. 

If you are an RN looking for travel nurse career advice, Triage is here to help you prepare for this fulfilling and dynamic career path. Read on to get insider tips for nurses looking to launch a travel nursing career. Learn what you can expect from your first few assignments, discover some of the most common obstacles travel nurses face, and how working with a staffing agency can help you overcome them. 

What to Expect in Your Travel Nursing Career 

Travel nursing is a great professional path for licensed nurses who love to explore different places and want to enjoy the freedom to choose when and where they want to work. It involves working as a temporary nurse in high-demand healthcare facilities across the country for specified periods, usually 13 weeks—though contracts can range from as little as two weeks to as long as 26 weeks. 

Opportunities for Growth and Adaptation

This career path offers many advantages. Travel nurse benefits include increased earning potential, flexibility, and the opportunity to work in high-need areas. However, it also comes with some challenges.

One of the top concerns that travel nurses face is the constant need to adapt to new professional environments. Nurses who travel for a living commonly work with different medical teams, navigate unfamiliar hospital settings, and must adjust to diverse clinical protocols and procedures. This can be stressful and requires a high level of flexibility and adaptability.

Another challenge is the difficulty of achieving work-life balance. Irregular schedules, remote assignments, and long shifts can be taxing on personal well-being. Additionally, since travel nursing contracts are short-term, nurses often lack the security of a full-time position, adding stress and uncertainty to their already demanding profession.

Moreover, the travel nursing industry has faced significant changes in recent years, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic. While travel nurses saw a surge in demand and wages during this time, many healthcare facilities have reduced agency bill rates throughout 2023 and beyond.  

Even with these potential hurdles, the field continues to offer unique opportunities for growth, learning, and the ability to make a meaningful impact in diverse healthcare settings, making it a rewarding choice for many nurses.

Excelling as a Travel Nurse: Tips for Success

For nurses, advice on navigating the intricate world of the nursing profession is essential. The good news is that despite difficulties, travel nursing can still be a rewarding and lucrative career for nurses who enjoy exploring new places while providing care to those in need. While fatigue and unpredictability come with the job, there are strategies you can use to reduce uncertainty and make the most of your experience. Here’s our advice for new nurses considering a career in travel nursing, as well as for established nurses considering a change in scenery. 

Research Potential Destinations Thoroughly

Before accepting your first travel nursing assignment, it’s crucial to conduct research, a key piece of advice nurse job seekers should consider. Not all assignments are the same, so knowing what to expect will help ensure a smooth and satisfying experience as a traveling nurse. 

A simple online search can help you learn more about the type of healthcare facility you’ll be working at, your housing arrangements, the climate/weather you might expect during your assignment, and the places and activities you’ll want to visit during your stay. This will prepare you for the journey and give you something to look forward to as you embark on your career path. 

However, remember that being adaptable is a key trait for traveling nurses. Flexibility with your work schedule and willingness to take on different assignments will make your experience more enjoyable and help you make a great first impression.

Establish Clear Contract Expectations

As a traveling nurse, establishing clear contract expectations ensures a transparent and mutually beneficial working relationship with healthcare facilities. It helps to avoid misunderstandings and contributes to a positive experience from both sides. A great way to achieve this is to work with your staffing agency to carefully review the specifics of your contract.

Pay close attention to details such as the duration of the assignment, job responsibilities, working hours, holidays, and potential overtime requirements. Discuss compensation openly and ensure that all aspects, including base pay, weekly take-home pay, and reimbursement for housing, are clearly outlined in the contract.

Lastly, make sure you understand and agree to the processes for renewing or terminating the contract and any penalties or consequences regarding early termination. 

Stay Current with Licensing and Certifications

Whether you’re a seasoned traveling nurse or just getting started, one of the best things you can do is ensure all licenses and certifications are up-to-date, organized, and easily accessible. Since travel nurses move around frequently, pay attention to license requirements for each state, especially if your main license is issued by a non-compact state. 

Embrace New Learning Opportunities

Here’s an essential piece of new nurse advice that many RNs wish they had known before embarking on this journey: It’s okay if you don’t enjoy your first (or even second!) assignment. As the new person on the unit, it’s not uncommon for the traveling nurse to get the duties no one else wants. However, it’s important to keep an open mind and view this as an opportunity to showcase your skills. Remember, flexibility and adaptability are your greatest assets as a traveling nurse. Plus, travel nursing is a business like any other, so it’s best to keep a positive mindset and not take anything too personally.

Budget and Save for Unforeseen Expenses

Becoming a travel nurse offers excellent compensation opportunities, but you should still be mindful that some upfront costs may be necessary. As you move between assignments, you’ll need to consider the cost of putting down a deposit for a new place, travel, and living expenses while waiting for your first paycheck, which is normally paid the Friday of your second week. So, having some savings can be helpful to cover these initial expenses. 

Prioritize Self-Care and Well-being

Nurses are the best at putting others first, often at the expense of their well-being. Nursing can be incredibly stressful and demanding, so prioritizing self-care is essential to maintaining good physical and mental health. Taking care of yourself will help you provide quality patient care and prevent burnout—something that more than 50% of nurses experience at some point in their careers.

One way to prioritize self-care is by establishing a wellness routine that includes exercise, healthy eating, and enough rest and sleep. Taking breaks and disconnecting from work when you’re off-duty is also critical. Take advantage of your time off to explore landmarks and immerse yourself in local culture, cuisine, and attractions. This will help you recharge your batteries and maximize your travel nursing experience. 

Communicate Effectively with Staffing Agencies

With so much uncertainty in the industry, having the right staffing agency in your corner is more important than ever. Finding a travel nurse agency that provides solid nursing career advice, understands your goals, and supports you throughout the entire process, from placement to job completion, can make all the difference. This includes providing location details, facility information, and contract specifics. Additionally, it entails assisting you with challenges such as navigating tax regulations, ensuring fair pay rates, and maintaining job security.

Launch Your Career as a Travel Nurse with Triage 

Are you a nurse dreaming of new adventures, increased earnings, and the satisfaction of making a difference in people’s lives? Look no further! Travel nursing with Triage is the perfect opportunity for you.

We specialize in six different areas of acute care, including nursing, radiology, lab, rehab therapy, cardiopulmonary, and long-term care. We provide advice for nurses and allied professionals in all stages of their careers. We’ll work with you to understand your preferences, needs, and goals before matching you with positions suited to your personal and professional needs. 

Our mission is to make finding a job as a travel nurse as easy as possible and provide the best nursing career advice so you can thrive in the field. So why wait? Start exploring exciting travel nurse jobs with Triage today!