A Travel Nurse on Assignment In An RV

A Travel Nurse on Assignment In An RV


I recently published a 3-part Series on Travel Nurse Housing Options. The option that I am least familiar with is RV Travel.

Travel Nursing in an RV isn’t my specialty (actually, I know nothing at all about it and won’t pretend to).

travel nursing in RVI consulted with long-time RV traveler Karen B.  Karen has provided the following article to help clear a few things up when it comes to taking an assignment as a Travel Nurse in your RV.

Karen is a solo-female traveler and has be a Travel Nurse since 2000.  She has worked approximately 24 assignments in WA, OR, CA, NV and NM.  Karen has traveled exclusively via RV since 2005.  Karen works L&D and NICU II.
On Assignment In My RV
Karen B., RN

“The RV lifestyle is a fabulous way for me to make some extra $$$ and to live in the comfort of my own things. I am a solo female Travel Nurse (in her 60’s) who has been traveling in her RV for the past 10 years. Prior to that, I took the housing my company provided and found that I had to haul half my house with me anyway. I like sharp knives, good pots and pans, coffee maker, towels, bedding, etc. Well you get the picture. I had a Chevy Tahoe at the time and it was always FULL of all the “must haves” I needed. I had a perfectly good RV parked at home but hadn’t really thought about using it for travel. It just seemed so much easier to take the housing provided.

Well after a couple of not so great housing mishaps, I decided to hit the road in my RV. It has been the perfect solution for me. There are advantages and disadvantages to this lifestyle. For me, the good outweighs the bad in a big way.

travel nursing in rv

Lets talk about some of the advantages first.
I keep my motor-home packed with everything I need except my scrubs, electronics and food. So no more packing and unpacking. I travel with a small dog so I never have to pay a pet deposit. I take the company stipend which pays for my RV spot with money leftover for my motor-home expenses, monthly payment, insurance, gas fund, slush fund etc. RV spaces rent for different prices in different areas. Some spaces include everything and others require you to pay for electricity. Where I am now, I pay $500.00 a month which includes electric, cable, and wifi. Of course sewer and water are standard. Hooking up your RV when you get to your location is usually very easy. Plug in your electric, cable (if you have it) water, and connect your sewer hose and you are all set up. Sometimes you need to level your rig and that can be done either with jacks or special leveling blocks under the tires.

Independence is another huge advantage. IF my assignment is canceled by either the hospital, company, or myself, there are no huge paybacks. Most housing is secured for 3 months by companies and if your assignment ends for whatever reason, you are often liable for reimbursement to the company for the balance.

RV Parks can be difficult to find depending where your assignment is located. In the bigger, busier cities, it seems the RV parks are further out of town and can be very expensive. Not impossible to find, just depends how far you are willing to commute. Some RV parks do not take monthly residents although I haven’t really had a problem with that aspect. Some that do take monthly residents have a lot of undesirable people in them in my opinion so finding the right RV park can take some research. Most of it depends on how well-run the RV park is and if they have specific rules for monthly residents.

Another aspect is weather dependent. An RV is basically a “tin box” so you need to be prepared for very hot or very cold weather. Some RV’s are labeled “4 Season” and have Thermopane windows, heated bays where your water and connections are located, and extra insulation. I personally choose to remain in a milder climate during the winter, and away from the desert in the summer.

During time off I have a “beach house, mountain cabin, or a desert dwelling”. I can also spend time visiting areas along the way to or from my assignment that interest me for a few days. I have a “sticks and bricks” house so definitely have a tax home and am eligible for the tax free perks.

The interest on an RV loan is also deductible on your income tax as a second home which is another plus for me.

Gas prices tend to influence my choice of assignments. I am not going to drive across the USA for a 3 month assignment because the reimbursement doesn’t even begin to cover my costs. If the assignment is for 6 months, I might consider it. But who is going to take a 6 month assignment? Not me. I might stay somewhere for 6 months but I wouldn’t know that until I was there for awhile. So for me, if I wanted to go on assignment a long distance away, I would probably take the company housing.

There is maintenance on an RV just like on a home or automobile. I put some of my stipend away for those incidentals. And yes, I have had incidentals. The hot water heater and air conditioner needed repair but I had the money in my slush fund for the repair (so it does happen).

There are many types and styles of RV’s. Class A, B, B+, C, trailers, fifth wheels, van conversions, and campers. There are lots of websites out there to help you decide what would work for you and what you can afford.”

I just want to take a minute to thank Karen for the informative article.  Are you considering travel nursing in an RV?  What questions do you have?  Have you previously traveled via RV and would like to contribute to The Gypsy Nurse?  Get in touch!  The success of The Gypsy Nurse depends on contributions like the above from Karen.  I don’t profess to ‘know everything’ but I am determined to find the information and provide it to you here.  Help me Help Others by contributing!

Please share your thoughts, questions, and comments below.

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  1. I travel in my RV with my family and it’s great! But I do find it difficult sometimes to find a park close enough to where I am working. Karen hit all the pros and cons dead on. For my family and I traveling in an RV is the way to go! I wouldn’t change anything for it 🙂

    • This is exactly what I’m looking in to. I’m currently working full time as an RN, but my husband and I and our one son will be on the road in a couple of years or so to do travel assignments in an RV. This is all great information. Thanks.

  2. Thank you for the insights! My husband and I are considering traveling with an RV. The housing is too unpredictable. Plus we have pets. Seems to be the right solution for us. Your posting was very helpful with pros/cons. Thanks again 🙂

  3. I had a horrifying experience subletting from someone in my very first travel assignment and am now pondering getting an RV. Thank you for the great insight!

  4. This is my dream! We just started camping but I’d like to upgrade to a class A. I’d love to hear from other RNs traveling via camper. What type camper do you have. Do you tow/rive yourself and how difficult is it?

    • I’m driving a 1969 vintage Dodge Travco! She’s been a work in progress and we call her ‘Big Bertha’! haha There are a couple of great groups on Facebook for the Nurse Traveler in an RV. I’m a newbie so I defer to the experts on this!

      travel nurse in rv

      • My husband and I went looking for a pop up and ended up in a Thor challenger with bunk beds for our three year old. SO it is now the three of us traveling to my nursing assignments with our little dog. It’s a dream come true. I am not restricted to certain housing and I am able to do it easily with my family. We found a monthly site with no problem near Hershey PA for our first assingment. We truly feel as though we are on vacation and the assignment is great. We are going to home school when its time. We travel around for daily adventures in our Honda CRV. It is such a simple hook up. I would highly recommend travel nursing in an RV. Almost all parks have cable hook ups and the RV really feels like home. We hate going back to Florida to check on our brick and mortar home because we love being in the RV.

    • I pulled a 27 foot travel trailer behind a GMC Yukon, and had no problems. In my case, I specialized in Critical Access hospitals, which usually means small towns, with campgrounds fairly close to my work. I took one assignment where I actually camped on the hospital grounds, with full hookups provided. Good luck and enjoy your travels.

  5. I’ve been an ICU RN for 8 years. We recently sold our house and have decided instead of buying a new home right away, to start traveling. Going to buy a travel trailer and get travel assignments while on the road. My husband and I have two younger children. Any thoughts, negatives about doing this with two little ones? I’m wanting to learn how ICU is in other states/ hospitals and just help add on to my skills as well. TIA for any help/suggestions.

    • You can travel with young children. We have several families that travel together on our Facebook groups. Please consider joining for additional resources. There are many that do travel in an RV as well, Join in and ask away!

  6. Very good article. I am a 57 yr old nurse and have a twin sister who is a nurse also. We both work in ambulatory surgery centers she as a pacu nurse and I as a circulator, my husband has decided to retire and we have considered travel nursing til we are able to retire and travel full time. We are considering a fifth wheel and could use some insight in the decision to buy used or new. Also how difficult/easy is it to find assignments in ASC’s

    • The Gypsy Nurse supports a variety of community groups on Facebook to help you along the way to becoming a Travel Nurse. Many of our members on the groups travel in RV’s and can help answer some of your questions! Please check out our Gypsy Nurse Groups and join in the conversations.

  7. Great article! I have also been a traveler, off and on, for the last 5 years and this is something I have thought about doing for years but my mother and aunt are always bringing up the safety factor due to traveling alone. Kathy I would like to know if your ever nervous at night in the RV and I guess you leave the AC running when your not there for your dog?. I have a pet also and would need to bring him with me.

  8. This has been something I have been wanting to do for awhile, but have had some fears. Being a nurse for 22 years you get used to a certain comfort level. Change can leave one apprehensive. I’m looking at getting a truck and a travel trailer. Any problems with Suze or length where you stay as far as the vehicles are concerned. Also…as far as the stipend goes. … do you find that it would cover magority of your monthly expenses seeing as I’ll have a truck and trailer payment plus rent as far as rv park goes? One more…. what is the average rv rental where you’re staying in a decent park with decent people? Thanks so much for the help. Looking at taking the plunge February march.

  9. I’m gonna start as a traveling nurse with a tiny house on wheels! I love them and downsizing has been liberating! I’ve worked at the same hospital for the last three years and I know it’s time for me and my little dog to get on the road, go see family and new places! Looking forward to the life!

  10. I started traveling in March of this year. I have a 5th wheel that my husband pulls for me. I love it! Over the summer we traveled as a family and set up on line schooling for our 12 year old son. Shockingly our 22year old daughter missed us waaay too much. So our son is back with her, going to regular school. My husband is going to trade off between me and home every few weeks (it’s only 4 hours away). Not exactly what we had planned but at least we have the flexibility to do it! Don’t get me wrong, I miss my family and am at my best when they are with me, but I am a Gypsyat heart. I can go see them on whenever I have a few days off. I have my travel cat, Frankie to keep me company and my feiend, hopefully,will start soon so we can be travel buddies! It does get lonely at times but thats when it’s time to explore!

  11. Thanks you so much for the information on travel nursing in a RV. I am probably going to go back to travel nursing next year and was just thinking about doing the RV thing.
    Can anyone tell me if there are tax advantages if I lease an RV? Since I am single and in my 60’s o don’t want the headache of repairs if something breaks and has to be repaired.
    How does your small pet fair being in the RV all day? Since I do correctional nursing most facilities are in isolated hot desert places and I would like to have a small dog with me but concerned about the heat.
    Thanks for any info!

  12. I travelled for several years as an ER nurse, and after two very bad situations with provided housing, I too went to my RV as a home away from home. I found that the comfort of my own bed, the lack of having to unpack, and the convenience of having what I needed close at hand, paid dividends. The only drawback I encountered was when I was offered an assignment on an Indian reservation and there were no hookups for my RV. Luckily I discovered this during the checking out of the hospital on the internet, and declined the assignment. My advice to travelers: look very closely at using an RV as your travel home, whether it is a motorhome or a travel trailer. The benefits far outweigh the hassle.