Step #4:  Understanding the Myths

Step #4: Understanding the Myths


In this series of posts, I’ll show you how to become a Travel Nurse step by step. Following these steps will help you be successful in your travel nursing career.  I recommend that you follow them in order and if you have any questions that I don’t cover, please feel free to add them in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

As in any career it’s important to be able to make an informed decision.  There are a lot of myths floating around about travel nursing.

MYTH #1  Travel Nurses make $80/hour (or some other outrageous amount).

When I hear people talk about travel nurses is making $80 per hour, I immediately want to know if this is truly what the nurse is making or is it the hourly fee that the hospital is paying for the nurse, as the latter is much more likely. Pay for traditional travel nurses is generally just slightly higher than that of permanent nurses. There are different types of travel nurses.  Rapid response travel nurses may make more, but only about 20-30 percent more than a traditional traveler. Strike nurses can bring in pay at or above $75 per hour.

One of the additional benefits for travel nurses that is real is the housing. Travel nurses often talk about their great housing benefits. Travel nurses enter a new city and have a move-in ready apartment waiting for them, or alternatively, they can opt to receive a cash housing subsidy in order to live in housing of their own choice. There are some tax home requirements that have to be adhered to in order to receive these housing benefits at a tax-free status.  I’ll go over this later.

Another consideration when discussing pay is that travel nurses generally do not receive paid vacation or paid sick leave. They are like other contract workers and when they need personal time off, they take it without pay—a significant benefit difference from typical staff nurses.

MYTH #2  Travel Nurse companies choose where you will go.

The truth is that a travel nurse has complete control over where they go.  Obviously, there is a supply and demand factor.  Generally travel nurse agencies will post a listing of current openings and the travel nurse will consider the options and tell the recruiter which locations they are willing to go.  A good recruiter will try to find a nurse placement in a location that is desirable for the travel nurse.

MYTH #3  Travel Nurses have to move every 13 weeks.

The standard travel contract is for 13 weeks.  That does not mean that you will have to move at the end of the contract.  Many travel contracts offer extensions and there are others that will contract for more than 13 weeks.

There are tax home considerations regarding being in a location for extended periods of time; generally around the one year mark.  Consult with your tax professional.

MYTH #4  Travel Nurses are all young.  I’m too old to be a travel nurse.

There is no age limit for a travel nurse.  There are a variety of groups that travel.  Young nurses will travel before they start families because they have the freedom to do so without any other obligations.  There are many travelers that will begin a travel career after their spouse retires or their children are grown.

It’s recommended that a nurse obtain at least two years experience in his/her specialty prior to exploring a travel nursing career.

MYTH #5  You can’t travel with family or pets.

This is entirely untrue.  Many nurses travel with a spouse, friend or children.  There are additional considerations if you travel with your family.  You may have to pay additional for an extra bedroom if you have a need for more than one.  Most travel agencies will provide a one bedroom or a studio apartment.

Pets can be a challenge to travel with but it isn’t impossible.  It’s important to inform your recruiter if you are planning to travel with family or pets so that these considerations can be accommodated.

What Additional Myths have you heard?  Post your thoughts in the comments and I will try to address them.

Please return to the Treatment Plan to review the next step.

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As a travel nursing educator, Candy aka Gypsy Nurse, RN has worked in healthcare for nearly 20 years, working up the ranks from CNA to LPN to RN. For the past eleven years, she’s worked as a travel nurse, allowing her to practice and live in 15 states throughout the U.S. Candy still works occasionally as a travel nurse but spends most of her time providing a supportive information and resources through and it's affiliated social networks.

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12 Responses to Step #4: Understanding the Myths

  1. skinnywench says:

    As a social worker in a working in hospital – there are many conceptions about agency staff (and social workers) :)

    • khandilee says:

      Agreed. Many travelers intentionally ‘glamorize’ the field as well and leave out all of the difficulties. I am hoping to address both ends of the spectrum.

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