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Balancing Work and Exploration: Achieving Harmony as a Travel Nurse

Nurses are needed in several roles and capacities to keep up with growing elder populations, increased numbers of chronic illness, retiring nurses and limited nursing program educators. While the demand for nurses is high, this does not limit the career options for those with a nursing degree.

Registered nurses (RN) who complete an online RN Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from Northern Kentucky University (NKU) can work in many different roles and practice settings, including acute care, community health, intensive care units and specialty areas. They can also explore the role of a travel nurse, which is growing in popularity and comes with unique perks.

What Are the Benefits of Travel Nursing?

Travel nursing offers the opportunity to visit new places while pursuing a fulfilling, in-demand career in healthcare. It has many benefits and can be an excellent fit for those looking for a change of pace.

The following are just a few of the benefits that travel nurses enjoy:

  • High earning potential. Although RNs earn a competitive salary — $77,600 annually as of 2021, according to the S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — travel nurse salaries can be even more lucrative. According to Indeed (August 2023), travel nurses earn an average base salary of $118,808 annually. As with any nursing position, RNs with more experience, advanced degrees or specialized certifications tend to earn higher wages.
  • Housing stipends. Travel nurse agencies often provide additional allowances for meals, housing and airfare, which boosts the overall compensation for travel nurses. Instead of a housing stipend, some agencies offer furnished apartments or lodging at extended-stay hotels.
  • Variety of experiences. Travel RNs typically work on short-term contracts lasting several weeks to several months. The schedule allows nurses to gain exposure to various patient populations and conditions, strengthening their skill sets and understanding.
  • Competitive benefits package. Many travel nurse agencies offer benefits like other employers, such as medical, dental and vision insurance. They may also provide tuition and licensure reimbursement, retirement plans and signing, completion or referral bonuses.
  • New connections. Travel nurses can build a network of contacts across the country, which can be beneficial for future job opportunities.
  • Adventure and exploration. Travel nurses get to explore new cities and regions while growing their careers. Some RNs may find that having the option to sightsee and travel goes a long way in achieving work-life balance and fostering well-being.

Is Achieving Work-Life Balance Possible for Travel Nurses?

Achieving work-life balance as a travel nurse can be challenging due to the demanding nature of the profession and the moves between assignments. However, with thoughtful planning and self-care strategies, travel nurses can achieve harmony between their work and their desire for adventure. The following are some strategies that travel nurses can employ to maintain a sense of connection and routine while traveling for work.

  • Consider the length of assignments. Lengthier assignments may allow more extensive exploration of a location, whereas shorter ones mean that nurses can travel to more destinations. Travel nurses can pursue a contract that meets their current needs and travel bucket list.
  • Choose new-to-you locations. Select travel nursing assignments in places that pique your interest. With jobs available in every state, nurses can opt for a vibrant city known for tourism or a remote mountain town, prioritizing assignments in destinations that excite them. Once you find a location you love, consider settling there permanently or finding a long-term nursing position.
  • Establish boundaries. Navigating transitions between work and play is tricky. Travel RNs can maintain a healthy work-life balance by setting boundaries, including declining additional shifts or overtime if it cuts into downtime and restricts their ability to venture out.
  • Set financial goals. Establish a budget considering your travel and sightseeing expenses and longer-term goals like retirement or buying a house. A financial plan can alleviate stress and maximize your travel nursing earnings and experiences.
  • Seek local support. Get to know the local community and take advantage of resources for travelers, such as tourist information centers, local events, social groups or even meetups with other travel nurses. Participating in local community events or charity work can also help travel RNs connect with the culture and people of each community.

Travel nursing is a rich and fulfilling lifestyle for those passionate about healthcare and exploration. Although achieving work-life balance as a travel nurse requires conscious effort and adaptability, you can find a routine that works for you and begin embracing wanderlust and a rewarding career.

Learn more about Northern Kentucky University’s RN to BSN online program.

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