For nurses diving into the world of travel nursing, a little bit of guidance can be a game-changer. The good news is, despite its challenges, travel nursing can be a fulfilling and financially rewarding gig for those who love exploring new places while helping people and earning a living. It comes with its share of tiredness and unpredictability, but there are ways to make it work better for you. Here are some tips for new nurses thinking about diving into travel nursing (remember, you likely need at least two years of experience before taking a travel assignment) and for experienced nurses looking for a change of scenery.

Get to Know Your Destinations

Before you take on your first travel nursing job, do some serious digging. Not all gigs are created equal, so it’s smart to know what you’re getting into. Look into the healthcare facility you’ll be working at, figure out where you’ll be living, check out what the weather’s like and see what cool stuff there is to do nearby. This helps you prep for your journey and gives you some fun things to look forward to.

But remember, flexibility is key in travel nursing. Being open to different schedules and assignments makes the whole experience way more fun and helps you make a great impression.

Be Clear About Your Contracts

Having a good understanding of your contracts is crucial for a smooth ride as a travel nurse. It helps avoid any misunderstandings and makes things better for everyone involved. Work closely with your staffing agency to go over all the nitty-gritty details of your contract.

Pay attention to stuff like how long your assignment will last, what exactly you’ll be doing, your work hours, holidays, and if you might have to work extra hours. Talk openly about money too, making sure you know what you’ll be earning, including your base pay, weekly take-home pay and any housing reimbursements.

And don’t forget to know the deal with contract renewals or cancellations, and any penalties if you want out early.

Keep Your Licenses and Certifications Updated

No matter if you’re a seasoned travel nurse or just starting out, make sure all your licenses and certifications are up-to-date and easy to access. Since you’ll be moving around a lot, keep an eye on what each state requires, especially if your main license isn’t from a compact state.

Stay Open to Learning

Here’s a nugget of wisdom: it’s totally normal if you’re not crazy about your first couple of assignments. Being the newbie often means getting the not-so-glamorous locations. But keep an open mind—it’s a chance to show what you’ve got. Like we said above, flexibility is your best friend in travel nursing. It’s all part of the journey.

Plan for Unexpected Costs

While travel nursing can bring in good money, there might be some upfront expenses you need to handle. Think about things like putting down a deposit for a new place, travel costs, and covering your living expenses until your first paycheck comes in (usually by Friday of the second week). Having some savings stashed away can make this transition easier.

It’s also not uncommon for your contract to get pushed back. While you can’t always help this, making sure your compliance file is completed as quickly as possible can help ensure that you start on time.

Take Care of Yourself

Nurses are often great at looking after others, but don’t forget about yourself. Nursing can be tough, so taking care of your physical and mental health is super important. Set up a wellness routine with exercise, good food, and enough rest. And when you’re off-duty, make sure to really switch off and enjoy your time exploring new places and cultures.

Stay in Touch with Your Recruiter

With so much uncertainty in the nursing world, having a good relationship with your staffing agency and your recruiter is key. Look for a recruiter who offers solid support and understands your goals. Good communication is crucial—they should keep you in the loop about everything from where you’ll be working to what your contract involves and be reachable during every phase of your assignment.

Want an agency that knows what it’s like to be a travel nurse? Triage has travel nurse jobs throughout the country and a commitment to shoot your straight with candor instead of jargon. Connect with Triage today.