Travel Nurse Newbies: 13 Things I Have Learned as a Travel Nurse

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By ReyAnn Moya

March 30, 2023



13 Things I Have Learned as a Travel Nurse Newbie

3 months, 13 weeks, and 91 days.

It may not seem like a lot of time spent in one place, but I can’t honestly say that I have grown significantly in my career and personal life in that snapshot of time. As many travel nurses will tell you, it really does fly by. This was the beginning of my new career as a traveling ER nurse when I decided to take a leap of faith in this unpredictable travel nursing lifestyle.

I left my home of 26 years, sold 80% of my belongings, and packed the rest of it in my 06’ Acura as I set out to Northern California. Feeling adventurous and excited but honestly scared out of my mind of what was next to come. Most days, I wake up, and I’m like, wow, how in the world did I get here? It was once a dream and goal to be a travel nurse, and well, here I am.

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For those of you tuning in, hello!

My name is ReyAnn Moya, a 27-year-old girl with a little over 5 years of nursing experience, a strong passion for travel, living a nontraditional lifestyle, and enjoying every bit of this beautiful Earth we live on. You will often find me solo traveling, at a rave or music festival, dancing my heart out, or exploring our dear Mother Nature. I was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM, where I miss every day, but I am so happy I left home to pursue more of life as a travel nurse.

Travel nursing has had its ups and downs.

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And it is truly a unique lifestyle we sign up for. Some days I have gone home crying, while others, I have felt on top of the world. It has taken my Type A personality through the wringer and back. But that’s the beauty of growth. It’s never really how we expect it to look, but it’s always exactly what we need. I’m pretty excited to say that I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning from ER nursing or traveling nursing (insert nervous laugh here), and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

I’m all about working smarter, not harder, and being the most efficient I can be (I guess that’s the ER nurse in me), so I felt the urge to share my experience in the hopes of helping my current and future travel nurse community. These are the things I wish I knew and tips I want to offer the travel nurse newbies. As many other posts have helped guide me to my decision into the travel nursing lifestyle, I hope that it can help you make that same decision. So here goes 13 things I have learned as a travel nurse newbie for all you travel nurse newbies.

Tips for travel nurse newbies:

1. I am FAR more resilient and adaptable than I even thought possible!

By human nature, we are all extremely adaptable (thank you, evolution). But it’s one thing when your friends say that you’re going to make it through, and it’s another to actually persevere and feel them in your gut. It blows my mind sometimes! And trust me when I say you’re just as resilient and adaptable too!

 2. But with that being said, 100% travel nursing is not for everyone!

And that is TOTALLY okay. Although this lifestyle has a glamorous effect, it takes hard work, adaptability, and flexibility to take you far. Don’t force it!

3. Expect the unexpected

Stuff happens, it’s not always going to be perfect, and it’s not supposed to be; in life and your career. But that’s the beauty of life! The hardest times reap the greatest rewards and life lessons. Shifting your paradigm and accepting that is key to more peace and less stress in your life. It’s all about how you ride the wave!

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4. You WILL doubt yourself!

Let me repeat, YOU WILL DOUBT YOURSELF!! No matter how many experiences you have, this is so normal with any major transition or change in life. But don’t trust negative self-talk. You know what you’re doing, and things will progress and get better with time.

5. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable!

Ohhhh, how this is such a game-changer. Once you tell yourself that things are happening FOR you and not AGAINST you, your whole life will start to change. The biggest rewards are on the other side of fear and outside of your comfort zone.

6. There will be moments of loneliness and boredom

But there is a difference between being alone and loneliness. You grow in strength through learning how to be alone with yourself, but the actual loneliness is just temporary. This is part of this lifestyle that will grow you the most as travel nurse newbies! Trust in that!

7. Not everyone is going to like you

In life and the workplace. But it’s all Gucci! All you can do is be the best version of yourself every single day! This is your life, live it the way you want and let others live it the way they want.

8. Don’t burn yourself out

You’re setting yourself up for failure in thinking you can get EVERYTHING done in a 12 hr shift. Don’t burn yourself out; this is a 24 hr job. Do you’re best at what you can, and do it well.

9. ALWAYS have a learner’s mentality!

I learned this from my dad at an early age. It’s so important to be a student in all aspects of life, even when you think you know something like the back of your hand. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

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 10. Work hard and play harder!

But don’t forget to give yourself the space and time to really recover. This can lead to burnout, and this is something I am still trying to create a balance with. It’s easy to wear yourself out from “doing the most,” as my friends tell me. I am known for going 100%, 100% of the time. Which can have its benefits, but PLEASE, FOR THE LIFE OF ME (and you), give yourself the time to reflect and process.

11. Make sure to maintain or create some type of routine.

You need some solid ground to stand on through all of this change. I realized this kind of late in my contract. As human beings, we crave stability and routine. It’s a part of human nature. Meditate, journal, talk with friends once a week, work out, take daily walks, whatever. Don’t neglect this part of your life, as you need it for mental clarity! You’ll thank me later.

12. Having a go-with-the-flow attitude is the golden ticket to success for travel nurse newbies.

It’s easy to be pretty set in your ways when transitioning from a staff position, but pump the brakes, sister (or brother). You’ll save yourself lots of stress and frustration if you let go of all prior expectations of how your hospital did things. But with that being said, that doesn’t mean letting people run all over you. It just means don’t think everything is always going to remain the same at every hospital you work in. You might even find better ways of doing things than you expected.

13. Having a “Why.”

This is a HUGE one, if not the most important! Truly take the time to sit down and write WHY you want to pursue travel nursing. Even my why has taken a new shape of its own, as I’m sure it will continue over time.

It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be OHHHH SO WORTH IT!   If you have a dream/passion or a longing for something more, whether that be in travel nursing or just in your life, DO THE DAMN THANG! I guarantee you will not regret the jump!

We hope these tips for the travel nurse newbies have helped you; here are a few more articles with tips for the travel nurse newbies or travel nurses in general

If you are a new traveler or looking into becoming a Travel Nurse:

Travel Nurse Guide: Step by Step

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