14 tips for first-time traveling nurses (2023)

Travel care is an excellent opportunity for nurses who want to expand their horizons, gain valuable experience and explore new places. However, it is difficult to manage it independently for the first time. Fortunately, Phaxis specializes in working with first time travelers! We love helping nurses get started and take the time to make sure their first step is the right one for their journey.

Here are some tips for first-time travel nurses to get the most out of their experience.

1. Update your resume

Nurses should update their resumes with each new job, experience, certification, or change. Before applying for your first travel nursing job, update your resume with all relevant nursing experience, education, certifications, and references. Update your resume with the latest work experience at the end of each contract. The more experience you have as a travel nurse, the easier it will be to secure your next job. Also be prepared to discuss gaps in your resume for 30 days as employers want to understand what kept you off the market. Finally, we suggest that you request a copy of the evaluation or reference check at the end of each assignment. Discuss your CV with your travel recruitment nurse and they will give you valuable advice on what to improve.

2. Get your paperwork in order

Before starting your duty as a travel nurse, make sure all your paperwork is in order. This includes your nursing license, certificates, immunization records, and any other documents required by the state or facility where you work. Be prepared for the onboarding/accreditation process as there is a significant amount of paperwork, medical tests, exams, background checks, etc. that take time. The sooner you complete the credential items, the easier it will be to get approved to start a new assignment. Missing the necessary paperwork delays your start date or even causes you to lose your job.

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3. Plan for the apartment

Some journey carer assignments include optional housing benefits or housing stipends. You should check with your recruiter in advance to determine the procedure for using this benefit. If you prefer to find your own accommodation or if housing assistance is not available, plan accommodation as soon as possible. If you're not sure where to find a long-term rental, consider booking through VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) or Airbnb for the first part of your assignment. Some travelers prefer an extended stay during the first week to bond and get to know the area before securing accommodation.

4. Be flexible

Flexibility is key when it comes to travel care. Be open to different locations, shifts and specialties. Especially as a first time traveling nurse. Remember that you are there to gain experience and explore new possibilities, so be open and willing to try new things. Hospitals need travelers because they are understaffed, so your willingness to float, pick up shifts, or work holidays is in your favor!

5. Pack light

Travel care means moving from place to place every few weeks, months or years, depending on your contract, so pack light, but not too much! Stick to the essentials and avoid overpacking, and buy the items you need at your destination. Be sure to pack comfortable shoes because you will be on your feet for a long time.

6. Network with other nurses

Networking with other travel nurses is a great way to learn about new opportunities and make friends in new places. Join travel nursing groups on social media or attend local events for healthcare professionals. These connections are also useful in navigating new facilities and finding housing options.

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7. Research the company

The first step in becoming a travel nurse is finding a reputable travel nurse company. At Phaxis, our employees have your back. Whether it's Boston, Austin, or anywhere else, we're dedicated to finding the best placement in the right location for you. We assign you a travel nurse recruiter who helps you find accommodation, answers all your questions and gives you the tools you need to be a successful first time travel nurse.

8. Communicate with your recruiter

Your recruiter is your lifeline when it comes to travel nursing. Be sure to communicate with them regularly and let them know your availability and preferences. They also help you solve problems that arise during your assignment.

9. Ask questions

You can never ask too many questions. Before you apply for a travel care job, make a list of questions to ask your recruiter or the agency offering the contract. A few examples include: which facilities accept first-time travelers? What interview questions are good to ask? Will there be a chance for overtime? How much free time is too much free time? How can I arrange an interview? Is this property suitable for travel? What compensation should I expect to be competitive with other nurses with more experience? Don't be afraid to ask your recruiter questions upfront, this will prevent any confusion later.

10. Take care

Traveling anywhere opens the door to stress, and traveling as a caregiver adds to the complexity of a new role, so it's important to take care of yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat healthy meals. Take the time to explore your new surroundings and enjoy the experience.

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11. Explore the area

Before you arrive at your new destination, explore the area. Learn about culture, attractions and things to do in your spare time. This helps you feel more comfortable and better at navigating your new environment. Explore the cities on your free days! Follow your routines at home, just in a new environment. Maybe you like going to the market on Saturday mornings at home. Find a local market to visit while on assignment! Make you feel at home wherever you are.

12. Arrive in your new city a few days early

Nothing is more frustrating than being late on your first day of work because you don't know where you're going. One of the simplest tips for traveling caregivers to follow is to arrive in your new city a day or two before your assignment starts (at least) and get settled in. Find a few alternative routes from where you are staying to get to work and familiarize yourself with them. Check out local shops, gyms, parks and restaurants. Ask to tour the facility you work in to get a feel for the layout. Being prepared eases the stress of the first day.

13. Keep an open mind

Different cities have different cultures and people. They may have different rules or ways of living. Adapting to a different life is difficult, so give yourself time to feel comfortable in your new environment. Be patient and open minded and remember this is a great opportunity to learn and grow. Remember, some of the best things in life come when we step out of our comfort zone.

14. Have fun

Finally, don't forget to have fun! Travel care is a unique and exciting opportunity. Take advantage of the experience and enjoy all the new places and people you meet along the way.

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In conclusion, travel nannying is a great way to gain valuable experience, explore new places and meet new people. Your first travel assignment opens up more hospital doors for you, as not all hospitals accept first-time travelers - so make sure to take advantage of it! Getting a positive reference and even completing an extension highlights your adaptability and makes you a valuable addition to the team. First-time travel nurses, follow these tips and make the most of your experience!

At Phaxis, our goal is to empower you to manage your career by choosing positions in cities that appeal to you. Are you ready for your next adventure? Contact us to place you on your first travel nursing assignment! <<link to job search>>

O Phaxisu

Founded in 2002, Phaxis is today one of the leading recruitment companies in the country. Specializing in healthcare, information technology, accounting, financial services, employment, office support, legal, human resources and marketing. Phaxis partners with highly skilled talent and top employers to create rewarding career opportunities that result in long-term success for candidates and employers. Visit us at www.phaxis.com.

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14 tips for first-time traveling nurses? ›

Step 1: Earn your degree.

If you're wondering how to be a travel nurse, you should know that travel nurses have the same credentials as any nurse; so earning a degree in nursing would be the first step to becoming a travel nurse.

How do I prepare for my first travel nurse assignment? ›

Tips for Your First Travel Nurse Assignment
  2. TIP #2: ASK QUESTIONS! ...
  3. TIP #3: Research and Plan Ahead. ...
  5. TIP #5: Have Your Documents in Order. ...

How do I prepare to be a traveling nurse? ›

Steps to become a travel nurse:
  1. Understand the role of a travel nurse.
  2. Earn your ASN/ADN or BSN degree.
  3. Pass the NCLEX and become an RN.
  4. Gain experience.
  5. Get licensed.
  6. Find a travel nurse staffing agency and apply.
  7. Start your career.

What is the first step to becoming a travel nurse? ›

Step 1: Earn your degree.

If you're wondering how to be a travel nurse, you should know that travel nurses have the same credentials as any nurse; so earning a degree in nursing would be the first step to becoming a travel nurse.

What should I pack for my first travel nurse assignment? ›

Travel Nursing Packing List
  • Scrubs or work uniform (per facility guidelines), including personal stethoscope.
  • Clothing (casual, dressy, sleepwear and workout clothes), undergarments, socks, shoes.
  • Hats, visors, and other accessories.
  • Favorite jewelry, and a travel jewelry box.

What is a typical day for a travel nurse? ›

Travel nurses typically work 12-hour shifts, either during the day or at night. Their duties may include assessing patients, administering medications, creating care plans, and communicating with other healthcare professionals.

What are the typical hours of a travel nurse? ›

Generally speaking, travel nurses will usually work a 40-hour workweek. The workweek will either be: Five 8-hour shifts. Four 10-hour shifts.

Is being a travel RN hard? ›

Travel Nursing is one of the most rewarding experiences, but it also comes with hard work, long hours, flexibility, and the ability to adapt quickly to a lot of things.

How long does it take to get your first travel nurse assignment? ›

It typically takes 1 to 5 weeks to get a travel nursing job. However, a host of variables affect the length of time it takes to get a travel nursing job. As a result, it can take less than a week in some cases and much longer than 5 weeks in other cases.

How long do travel nurses stay in one place? ›

How Long Are Travel Nursing Assignments? The standard travel nurse assignment is 13 weeks. However, contracts can range from as little as 2 to 26 weeks depending on the travel nursing agency and facilities. Many travel nurses choose to extend their contracts beyond the initial 13 weeks.

What do you wear as a travel nurse? ›

As a travel nurse, scrubs are an important part of your job. They're both a uniform and a protective garment that helps prevent the spread of germs carried on your clothes. Keeping your scrubs clean and in good condition benefits the health of your patients, as well as yourself.

What expenses are paid for travel nurses? ›

Travel Nurse Tax Tips
  • Housing and lodging expenses while traveling.
  • Mileage travel.
  • Uniform and scrub expenses.
  • Utilities.
  • Work-related expenses, such as continuing education courses or certifications you must maintain to keep your position.
  • Meals.
  • Costs for Internet and phone providers.
Jan 26, 2023

How do you negotiate a travel nurse salary? ›

4 Tips for Negotiating Travel Nurse Contracts
  1. Be Knowledgeable. Right off the bat, it's crucial that you understand how travel nursing contracts work. ...
  2. Remember Your Value. ...
  3. Be Flexible. ...
  4. Ask About Other Reimbursements. ...
  5. Know Your Extension Bonus Options. ...
  6. Make Your Request As Specific As Possible. ...
  7. Don't Be Afraid to Say No.
Oct 26, 2022

Is travel nursing stressful? ›

However, travel nursing can be stressful because you will be changing travel nursing assignments about every 13 weeks. This means meeting new people, adapting to new environments, and learning new charting systems and unit procedures. Overall, most travel nurses are happy that they started a career in travel nursing.

What hard skills do you need to be a travel nurse? ›

What Skills Does a Travel Nurse Need?
  • Emotional intelligence. Travel nurses have to be able to give bad news to people, and help them cope.
  • Critical thinking. Nurses of all kinds deal with complex problems and need to find solutions.
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Strong communication skills. ...
  • Love of traveling.

Do travel nurses pick their schedule? ›

Do travel nurses have a flexible schedule? Like other healthcare professionals, travel nurses oftentimes have the opportunity to make their own schedule, as long as it fills the needs of unit or hospital staffing shortages. However, you may have to take a weekend or Sunday shift a time or two.

Do travel nurses get paid days off? ›

As a travel nurse, you don't accrue PTO (paid time off) as staff nurses do. This means that every time your contract ends and you take a break between your next contract, you don't get paid.

Is travel nursing worth it now? ›

Ask any travel nurse is travel nursing worth it? They will likely tell you the money makes it worth it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a travel nurse was $73,300 per year, but there are opportunities to increase that figure just by knowing some insider tips and tricks.

Why are travel nurses paid so much? ›

The pay is commensurate with the challenges they face and the skills they bring to the job. Hospitals use travel nurses to fill short-term staff and managerial positions. Travel nurses live away from home for 13-26 weeks per assignment. Additional compensation is paid to help offset related costs and difficulties.

How does a travel nurse schedule look like? ›

Your schedule as a travel nurse is similar to that of a perm nurse. You will typically work anywhere between 3-4 days of mostly 12-hour shifts. The typical schedule is made that way to help avoid any nurse burnout.

Can travel nurse call in sick? ›

Just like any other employee, travel nurses can call in sick; however, there are a few things to keep in mind: Travel nurses usually have a limited number of vacation days. Multiple hospitals and patients may be impacted; and. There is a risk of your contract not being renewed.

What is the downside of being a travel nurse? ›

Although in some states you will be able to get a compact license, yet in others you will find obtaining your license can be challenging and timely. This can severely limit your choices in contracts. Having to have multiple licenses in order to practice is one of the biggest cons of being a travel nurse.

What is the hardest part of being a travel nurse? ›

One of the common challenges of the life of a travel nurse is resentment of your pay by hospital nurses. A travel nurse is immediately enlisted to address an urgent staffing need at a hospital or healthcare facility. As a result, it's likely that you will earn higher wages compared to staff nurses.

What are some downsides to being a travel nurse? ›

The Cons of Travel Nursing
  • Travel Nurses Lack Job Security. ...
  • You Can't Choose Your Hours. ...
  • The Pay Varies. ...
  • You Won't Have Paid Time Off. ...
  • You Will Always Be the New One. ...
  • Licensing Can Be a Struggle. ...
  • The Housing Situation is Complicated. ...
  • You Will Dread Tax Season.

How often do travel nurses get to go home? ›

The average travel nursing assignment is 13 weeks long. That means a travel nurse working regularly could expect to move four times in a year (52 weeks in a year/13 = 4).

Does travel nurses get a break after an assignment? ›

There are no hard and fast rules about how much time you should take between each assignment. Only you know how long is long enough. However, as you are making this decision, you should consider how long you can survive without pay because travel nursing jobs typically do not provide paid time off.

Can you quit a travel nurse assignment? ›

If you do wish to cancel, communicate openly and honestly with your recruiter, work with them on the best solution, give as much notice as possible, and try to work your scheduled shifts. Also understand that you may face professional, financial, and other consequences.

What is the 12 24 travel nurse rule? ›

If you want to continue receiving tax-free stipends, travel nursing assignments can't be longer than 12 months in a rolling 24-month period in the same location. Some nurses try to get around this rule by taking travel contracts in the same city but at different facilities.

What is the 12 month rule for travel nurses? ›

A travel nurse can stay in one state indefinitely IF they continue to move to different areas such that they never spend more than 12 months in any rolling 24-month period in the same area.

Can travel nurses bring their families? ›

Bottom line: Regardless of your family dynamics, you can absolutely be a travel nurse and bring your family along. You just need to make sure you carefully plan ahead so the timing is right for you and all of your family members. There's no one right answer here, it simply depends on what best fits your family!

What travel nurses are most in demand? ›

Depending on patient acuity, travel nurse specialties like Intensive care nurses (ICU) and progressive care unit (PCU) nurses are usually in high demand. An operating room nurse will always have an opportunity to find travel nurse assignments. Telemetry travel nurses are always needed throughout the country as well.

What type of travel nurses are most needed? ›

Emergency Room (ER) Travel Nurses

One type of travel nurse specialty that is always in high demand is emergency nursing.

Do travel nurses pay for their own hotels? ›

Travel nurses sign contracts for a specific period, during which they work full time. Per diem, or per day, compensation packages often cover food, lodging and other living expenses, while a stipend mostly is for lodging.

Do travel nurses get taxed a lot? ›

Because travel nurses are paid a bit differently than staff nurses and local travelers, travel nurses file taxes a bit differently. This is because travel nurses are paid a base hourly rate, that is taxable, and a weekly travel stipend that is not taxable – both of which equal their total pay in a given contract.

Do travel nurses get audited by IRS? ›

Yes, travel nurses can get audited by the IRS. Travel nurses are more likely than the average Joe of getting audited. This is because of an array of reasons but most commonly because income compared to expenses can look suspicious. This is because of the reimbursed expenses and stipends.

What is the lowest salary for a travel nurse? ›

Travel nurse salaries range widely across the country, with the lowest earners making $40,000 and the highest earners making $155,500 annually!

Does Aya pay for scrubs? ›

We may be able to offer reimbursements for licenses, certifications, scrubs or other necessities you need to work the assignment. Your recruiter will provide more information. Are benefits offered? Yes, if you're on a full-time assignment, we offer medical, dental, vision and life insurance.

How is travel nurse pay broken down? ›

For example, if you are working 36 hours/week on a 13-week assignment, your hourly rate would look like this: Your non-taxable stipend pay is $20.83/hour. When you add that to your original base pay of $20/hour to calculate combined hourly travel nurse pay, you end up with $40.83/hour.

Is travel nursing good for new nurses? ›

2. Travel Nursing Jobs are a Great Resume Builder. Gaining a deep nursing practice skill set should be a top focus for new grad nurses entering the workforce, and travel nursing is a great way to gain a broad base of clinical experience.

Can you be a travel nurse in your first year? ›

Yes, travel nursing for recent nursing graduates is possible. In fact, there has never been a better time for early career nurses to try travel nursing! While you cannot travel until you reach one year within your specialty, you can apply with 6-9 months of experience.

How much orientation do you get as a travel nurse? ›

Travel nurse orientations will vary from organization to organization. For example, your nurse orientation program could be two days long, or it could be a week long. You may be told to wear scrubs, or you may be asked to wear business casual attire on your first day.

Can you pick your days as a travel nurse? ›

Yes, traveling means you have the flexibility to decide what shifts you'll accept, where to work, when you'd like to start, and when to take a break. Your break might allow you an extended visit with family or even a trip around the world. That's flexibility that few permanent positions offer.

Do travel nurses pick where they go? ›

Can travel nurses choose where they go? A. Yes. You get to pick the state, the hospital, and the healthcare setting.

What are the cons of travel nursing? ›

The Cons of Travel Nursing
  • Travel Nurses Lack Job Security. ...
  • You Can't Choose Your Hours. ...
  • The Pay Varies. ...
  • You Won't Have Paid Time Off. ...
  • You Will Always Be the New One. ...
  • Licensing Can Be a Struggle. ...
  • The Housing Situation is Complicated. ...
  • You Will Dread Tax Season.

What age do people become travel nurses? ›

Traveling Nurse Age
Traveling Nurse YearsPercentages
40+ years59%
30-40 years28%
20-30 years14%
Sep 9, 2022

Can you be a travel nurse with little experience? ›

The short answer: no. Though it can happen, travel nursing agencies will rarely hire you without at least some prior work experience.

Can I retire early as a travel nurse? ›

A great benefit of being a traveling nurse practitioner is you can use this opportunity to retire early. First, as a traveling nurse practitioner, your pay is higher than being a full-timer. Second, most Americans spend about 30% or more of their income on housing, and 15% or more of their income on transportation.

Do you get paid the first week of travel nursing? ›

Make sure you also have the number of guaranteed hours per week in your contract with the agency. The contract you sign is with the travel nursing agency, not the hospital. What happens often is that during orientation you might not work a full week, 36 hours. Therefore, you will not be paid in full during orientation.

Will travel nursing always pay well? ›

Under normal circumstances, many travel nurses have the potential to earn over $3,000 per week. Travel nurses can bring in over $50 per hour, plus company-paid housing accommodations. Making it entirely possible for travel nurses to make well over $100K per year.

How are travel nurses paid so much? ›

So, why do travel nurses get paid more? It's because they fill short-term needs, accept assignments in areas with severe nursing shortages, receive extra compensation for their flexibility and work in hard-to fill specialties.


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