Travel Nurse Guide: Travel Nursing Myths - The Gypsy Nurse

By The Gypsy Nurse Staff

August 8, 2018

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Step #4: Understanding the Myths

Top 5 Travel Nursing Myths

Travel nursing myths are abundant. As in any career it’s important to be able to make an informed decision. Find out the truth behind these 5 travel nursing myths.

Travel Nursing Myths

MYTH #1

Travel Nurses make $80/hour (or some other outrageous amount).

When I hear people talk about travel nurses is making $80 per hour, I immediately want to know if this is truly what the nurse is making or is it the hourly fee that the hospital is paying for the nurse, as the latter is much more likely. Pay for traditional travel nurses (excluding California), is generally just slightly higher than that of permanent nurses. There are different types of travel nurses.  Rapid response travel nurses may make more, but only about 20-30 percent more than a traditional traveler. Strike nurses can bring in pay at or above $75 per hour.

One of the additional benefits for travel nurses that is real is the housing. Travel nurses often talk about their great housing benefits. Travel nurses enter a new city and have a move-in ready apartment waiting for them, or alternatively, they can opt to receive a cash housing subsidy in order to live in housing of their own choice. There are some tax home requirements that have to be adhered to in order to receive these housing benefits at a tax-free status.  You can read more about housing here.

Another consideration when discussing pay is that travel nurses generally do not receive paid vacation or paid sick leave. They are like other contract workers and when they need personal time off, they take it without pay—a significant benefit difference and downside, from typical staff nurses.

MYTH #2

Travel Nurse companies choose where you will go.

The truth is that a travel nurse has complete control over where they go.  Obviously, there is a supply and demand factor.  Generally travel nurse agencies will post a listing of current openings and the travel nurse will consider the options and tell the recruiter which locations they are willing to go.  A good recruiter will try to find a nurse placement in a location that is desirable for the travel nurse.

MYTH #3

Travel Nurses have to move every 13 weeks.

The standard travel contract is for 13 weeks.  That does not mean that you will have to move at the end of the contract.  Many travel contracts offer extensions and there are others that will contract for more than 13 weeks.

There are tax home considerations regarding being in a location for extended periods of time; generally around the one year mark.  Consult with your tax professional to make sure you are practicing within the law.

MYTH #4

Travel Nurses are all young.  I’m too old to be a travel nurse.

There is no age limit for a travel nurse.  There are a variety of groups that travel.  Young nurses will travel before they start families because they have the freedom to do so without any other obligations.  There are many travelers that will begin a travel career after their spouse retires or their children are grown.

It’s highly recommended that a nurse obtain at least two years experience in his/her specialty prior to exploring a travel nursing career.

MYTH #5

You can’t travel with family or pets.

This is entirely untrue.  Many nurses travel with a spouse, friend, pets, and children.  There are additional considerations if you travel with your family.  You may have to pay additional for an extra bedroom if you have a need for more than one.  Most travel agencies will provide a one bedroom or a studio apartment.

Pets can be a challenge to travel with but it isn’t impossible.  It’s important to inform your recruiter if you are planning to travel with family or pets so that these considerations can be accommodated.

What Additional Myths have you heard? Post in the comments and lets dispel all of the travel nursing myths.


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