The Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing: Weighing the Benefits and Challenges

The Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing: Weighing the Benefits and Challenges

March 18, 2024

Travel nursing is an option that more nurses are choosing because of its undeniable benefits, like the opportunity to experience new destinations and hospital systems. If you’re considering becoming a travel nurse, it’s essential to learn about both its pros and cons so you can be certain it suits your lifestyle and preferences. Read on to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of traveling.

Better pay and other pros of travel nursing

Travel nursing offers a number of benefits that can make a difference in your decision.

Earning more

Most travel nurses make more money than non-traveling ones. The average hourly rate is $59.66, while regular nurses tend to make $41.24 per hour on average. 

You also receive tax-free stipends for lodging and meals. You don’t have to worry about payroll taxes with this money. Remember that you do need to maintain a tax home, which means a primary home. It would require that you pay some form of duplicate expense, whether rent or a mortgage.

Having the chance to travel

Perhaps the most obvious advantage that travel nursing offers is the chance to travel and live in varied locations. The great thing about travel nursing is that you don’t only visit the place in passing, but instead, you get to stay and work there. Immersing yourself in that manner gives you a true taste of the location.

Broadening work experience

As a travel nurse, you’ll work in a variety of hospitals and other care settings. Each one of these will likely have its own protocols and ways of doing things. You’ll learn different ways of tackling the same issues and get the opportunity to gauge which options are more efficient. 

You’ll likely learn many different approaches to patient care, procedures for managing medications, and more. All of this enriches your work experience. 

Avoiding workplace politics

When you’re new at a location, it’s unlikely that you’ll be drawn into conflicts between permanent employees. Travel nurses don’t have to deal with unit meetings, committees, or anything similar. You’ll have a chance to show up each day and do your work.

Networking opportunities

When you’re a travel nurse, you get to meet a barrage of new people, all of whom could help you advance your career. Employers have a preference for hiring those they know, and many hospitals even have referral programs. By building your network, you can start making the strides you want in your nursing career. 

Trying out locations

If you’ve been thinking about moving to a particular state or city but aren’t sure, living there as a travel nurse for a few months can give you an idea of whether it’s the right place for you. 

This also applies to workplaces. You may have always wanted to work at a particular hospital, but actually doing so could leave you disappointed and stuck in a job you’re not sure about. As a travel nurse, you can move on once you’re done. 

Flexibility between assignments

As a travel nurse, you can decide when to take your next posting. If you want to schedule a vacation, you don’t have to try to fit it into available vacation days. 

A female nurse in scrubs holds a duffel bag while descending an outdoor staircase.

Job instability and other cons of travel nursing

Although the benefits of travel nursing are significant, there are also drawbacks that you want to consider. 

Searching for jobs

Each time your current post is over, you have to begin the process of searching for a new one. A typical travel nursing contract lasts three months, and while you sometimes may be able to extend the contract for another few months, this still means you’ll be searching for a job at least two times a year. 

Prolink helps travel nurses with the challenging job search process. A dedicated team of recruiters assists with every step of the process, including the job search, licensure and certification, and benefits. 

Partner with Prolink and start your travel nursing journey today.

Dealing with homesickness

Since you’re typically moving to a location for about three months, homesickness is a serious possibility. Your assignment is never long enough to make lots of friends, but it’s also not short enough to avoid feeling lonely. For many, this can be a serious concern that keeps them from enjoying the experience.  

Traveling often

Even if you love to travel, having to pack up and move every few months can be exhausting. It means traveling light and never really settling into your new place. 

Managing pay fluctuations

Although travel nurses do, on average, make more money, there may be instances when that’s not the case. Some states pay less than others, so you could end up doing the same amount of work for a lower salary. These fluctuations can make budgeting more difficult. 

Needing multiple state licenses

If you want to be a travel nurse, it’s essential to be licensed in a few states. If you have a compact multi-state license, you have the chance to work in numerous states, but you may still need to get extra licenses. The problem is that it can be expensive to maintain multiple state licenses. 

You’ll also need to meet the CEU requirements for each state. Even worse, getting a license in some states could make it harder to get one in others. 

Filing taxes

Filing taxes as a travel nurse can be complicated. You’ll likely have lived in multiple states, so you’ll need to file multiple state returns. This means that you’ll have to set aside some money to pay a tax professional. 

Feeling like an outsider

When you’re a travel nurse, you’ll always be the new person. It can be tough to adjust to new people and new locations. Permanent staff at hospitals don’t always have a positive view of travel nurses, either, which could make your stint there more difficult. 

A young female nursing student smiles while sitting on a bench in the lobby of her school building.

Deciding on the right position

If you’re considering becoming a travel nurse, it can help to keep in mind the pros and cons that come with the job. Ultimately, your goals and personality will help you decide whether it’s the right choice for you.

At Prolink, we find the right temporary or permanent nursing assignment for you, whether you prefer to travel or put down roots. Get in touch with a recruiter today to get started.

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