Travel Nurse Journey: 18 Years of Memories · The Gypsy Nurse

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By Laura Pierce

April 12, 2023



My Travel Nurse Journey: 18 Years of Memories

How do you sum up eighteen years of travel nursing?  That’s 18 years of travel nurse contracts, new places, new co-workers, new patients, and new experiences.  The past 18 years have been pretty fantastic.  I’ve had the fortune of working in places like Guam (6 different times), Hawaii (the big island and Maui), Alaska, and many other US states.

travel nurse journey

My travel nurse journey

Sometimes I get extremely lucky in my travels. For instance, I experienced Maui during the lockdowns and had the beaches to myself.  It was the stuff of dreams.  Or when I decided I was going to work in Alaska one summer.  I lucked out when I found a contract in Anchorage.  The cherry on the top was the mama moose who would bring her baby out on the hospital grounds every dawn and dusk.

When I look at my work badges, I am reminded of the places I’ve worked and the places I visited on that contract.  And, almost as important, the places I’ve been between travel nurse contracts. Whether it be solo travel or with friends and family, my home base is in Missouri, but I usually work at least 1 travel nurse contract each year in California.  This means I drive 30 hours to California.  

travel nurse jounrey

I often invite my mom or a friend to fly out and drive back together, stopping to see as many sights as possible.  On these return trips, my mom and I saw Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Las Vegas, and many other sights.  And a friend and I saw the Grand Canyon for her first time.  Little did I know that she had always wanted to see La Brea Tar Pits, so we checked it out before we left Los Angeles.  The tar pits are excavation sites near downtown Los Angeles, where saber-tooth cat and wooly mammoth dating to 38,000 years have been dug out of the ground, and liquid tar bubbles up out of a pit.

My international travels

My travel nurse journey has also afforded me the luxury of international travel.  And believe me. I come up with some crazy ideas.  Like when a friend and I hopped on a flight to India for 6 weeks.  Or when working on Guam, Southeast Asia and Japan are only a short flight away.  One year after leaving Guam, I whittled my traveling items into 1 suitcase.  I traveled through 10 different countries in Southeast Asia for 4 months. It was amazing.  I met a Buddhist monk in Myanmar who became my unofficial tour guide.  He took me to gorgeous 1000-year-old temples (over 30) carved from a single boulder.  The following year, I returned to Southeast Asia and Australia for 3 months, and my new friend accompanied me to Indonesia.  Another time my friend Salma and I vacationed on a tiny island off the coast of Belize.  There was no electricity or internet, but there was plenty of snorkeling, hermit crabs, and coconuts.   We were adopted by Lucky, one of the five island dogs.  He was an Australian shepherd who we loved.  The island was so small that a person could walk all the way across the island in about 5 minutes.  I didn’t want the week to end.  

Travel nurse journey

Last fall, I embarked on a 6-week getaway.   I came across a cruise where both the price and the timing were perfect.  Before the cruise, I flew into Zurich, Switzerland, and spent the day meeting up with a couple of old friends.  Among other places, we visited the Lindt chocolate factory and ate our weight in Lindt chocolate. After Zurich, I made my way to Venice for the cruise by way of the Bernina Train, considered one of the top train rides in the world, and it is something that had been on my ‘to-do’ list.  The 27-night cruise started in Venice and ended in Durban, South Africa, winding its way through the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal, down the eastern side of Africa, and stopping in 10 different countries (including 3 island nations) along the way.  Once the cruise was over, I flew to Kruger National Park in South Africa for a week-long safari.  I couldn’t believe the numerous herds of zebras, elephants, giraffes, and hippopotami.

My career has been fulfilling and gratifying

These days, I usually work a couple of contracts a year, and I don’t work when I’m at home in the Ozarks.  My house is paid for, and I have some money in the bank. And working less gives me more time to pursue more traveling and spend more time with family and friends.  I consider myself extremely blessed to be doing what I love for work while seeing so much of the world’s beauty.  My travel nurse journey has been extremely fulfilling and gratifying.  I’m not sure exactly how much longer I’ll be at the bedside, but if it means another 18 years of traveling for both work and pleasure, I’ll take it!

We hope you enjoyed reading Laura’s travel nurse journey story. Would you like to share your story? Comment below or send an email here.

Our job board is a great place to search for your next travel nurse assignment. We have you covered with our housing page if housing is an issue. You can search for what you are looking for.

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

Travel Nurse Guide: Step-by-Step

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