As the summer months approach, the urge to pack up for a vacation hits a fever pitch. Whether you’re itching for long, languid days poolside or wanting to explore a new culture, the time to start planning your vacation is now. Luckily, you’re a travel nurse (or thinking about becoming one) which means that while you get to work in desirable locations, you also have the freedom to take time off in between assignments. Like the other aspects of the job, taking a vacation as a travel nurse requires a little organization and good old-fashioned planning. Follow these steps for a worry-free vacation, after all, you’ve earned it!
Taking a month-long vacation can take a big chunk out of your finances. 30 days without pay can seem daunting, but with the right planning, it can easily be done! First, track your recurring monthly expenses so you know exactly how much you’ll need to stay on top of bills. Next, look at flights, hotels, and any tours or excursions you’re wanting to do. Now that you have a baseline you’re ready to start making extra money for your trip — like referral bonuses! Here are some additional budgeting tips for travelers.
Working overtime is a great way to make extra money to use toward your vacation. Most contracts have a bill rate for 36 hours but overtime pay won’t kick in until 40 hours. Ask your recruiter about those 4 hours. Some agencies offer pay packages that up your hourly rate on those additional hours until your contracted overtime kicks in. Need some help on negotiating overtime? We’ve got you covered.
Extension & Rebook Bonuses
Depending on when your vacation is, you may be able to extend or even rebook for another 13-week assignment. This is a great opportunity for a bonus. Again, this is agency by agency, but it’s worth asking your recruiter. The agency won’t need to reimburse you for pre-employment screenings, so you may be able to get a bump in pay if not a bonus. Don’t leave any money on the floor that could go into your vacation fund.
If you get health insurance through your agency, you likely pay out of each paycheck. But what about in between assignments? When you decide to take time off, will you be covered? It’s important to think about the level of coverage you feel comfortable with according to your lifestyle and activity level. Look for agencies that offer bridge programs. These will keep you covered while you travel to your new assignment, but they’re not meant to be long-term options.
For longer vacations, COBRA may be your best bet. Unlike typical insurance, COBRA won’t be taken out of each paycheck, rather it will be paid all upfront so be prepared. Check with your agency and ask if they switch your insurance over to COBRA and reinstate you when you’re back on assignment — you typically even get to use the same insurance card.
This article details insurance options between contracts and goes into exactly how COBRA works.
Let’s talk about travel insurance too! What happens if your connecting flight is canceled, your luggage is stolen, or a tropical storm rolls in and derails your plans? Would you be okay eating that bill without getting the tan? While this isn’t something offered by healthcare staffing agencies, it’s an important step to protecting yourself against unfortunate situations. Travel insurance for travel nurses may require a few extra steps due to your unique occupation, read more here!
When it comes to the logistics of your trip, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the details: flights, check-in times, and itineraries. You can also check with your agency to see if they can help. Some agencies are starting to offer an Employee Assistance Program as an added benefit with their health insurance packages. EAPs give travelers access to legal, financial, and work-life experts that can act as a concierge for you. Do you need a travel visa? Will your passport expire before you’re due to return?
Depending on your level of planning you may already have your next assignment lined up, but if not you’ll want to make sure you can connect with your recruiter. Will you need to have pre-employment screenings done immediately when you return? If you’re traveling somewhere remote, find coffee shops or other local businesses that offer free WiFi so you can be accessible.
See, Do & Stay
Start by leveraging online communities. Search destinations in The Travel Nurse Network or ask for recommendations to find the must-see places and hidden gems. Hotel Engine is a great place to find budget friendly accommodations. Check it out before you book your stay.
Another great resource for trip planning? Airbnb. While the savviest travel nurses know how to save on housing using Airbnb, but there is also a whole host of things Airbnb can help you with for your trip, like experiences. From food tours to one-of-a-kind local classes and excursions, you’ll find can’t-miss experiences from a trusted source. Explore experiences now and you just might find your next share-worthy memory. Another tried-and-true resource for activities? Groupon! From restaurants to local activities, you may save some cash trying something new.