February 23, 2024

Understanding How a Career in Travel Nursing Works

Travel nursingh

RNs seeking more adventure and a healthy work/life balance may be interested in the travel nursing profession. This career option allows nurses to experience new locations while earning a competitive salary. Nurses should seek an agency that offers high-performance results and comprehensive benefits. Additionally, nurses should understand the ins and outs of taxation for their assignments and consult with a tax adviser.

Earning Potential

Many new RNs are intrigued about what is a travel nurse job and its perks. According to professionals, travel nurses work on temporary contracts, typically eight to 26 weeks. They earn generous hourly pay rates, and their agencies cover housing and travel expenses and provide health insurance from day one of the assignment. They also can receive shift differentials, overtime, and completion bonuses.

The perks of a travel nurse include the ability to choose where and when they want to work, higher pay in some cases than staff nurses, and the opportunity to experience diverse healthcare settings, gain new skills, and expand their professional network. These unique benefits make travel nursing a desirable career option for RNs who enjoy flexibility and adventure.

Most travel nursing assignments last four to eight weeks, and many travel nurses schedule time off between assignments. A love of traveling and flexibility are essential for a successful travel nurse, as is the ability to learn and adapt quickly to new hospitals and clinics.

Keeping an accurate travel log and maintaining documentation of all tax-free expenses can help travel nurses maximize their earnings. Travel nurses may choose to use their stipend to cover all or part of their housing costs, and they can opt for employer-provided housing if it will save them money on rent and utilities. 


Travel nurses work through healthcare staffing agencies that specialize in placing temporary contractors into facility nursing positions. These agencies take a cut of the money that hospitals might pay nurses. Still, in return, they advocate for competitive salary rates, housing and transportation costs to new assignments, and time off between jobs.

Many states have nursing shortages, which has prompted more registered nurses to choose this career path. Travel nurses earn significantly higher compensation rates than traditional staff nurses, with some salaries reaching six figures. They also experience various settings and units, which helps them build a well-rounded nursing resume.

Another major incentive for travel nurses is the flexibility of their schedules. They can request specific travel locations and times of year, which allows them to explore the country or visit family. They can also travel with a partner and save on expenses by sharing an assignment.

Moving between assignments often means living away from family and friends, so travel nurses need support systems. Building long-term relationships with coworkers can also be difficult because they’re only around for weeks or months. 

Travel Opportunities

Travel nurses work in various facilities, from large teaching hospitals to small rural medical centers. They also have the opportunity to work abroad. Every travel nurse agency sets its hiring criteria, but most will require you to have a current nursing license and certifications from your home state. You’ll also be required to meet hospital requirements, such as immunizations and health screens.

Once you’ve completed your registration process, a travel nurse recruiter will help you find an assignment that matches your skills and preferences. They can also tell you what travel benefits, such as housing or transportation stipends, are available.

Some agencies offer furnished apartments near the hospital where you’ll work. Other times, you’ll be provided a stipend that allows you to secure your accommodations. In either case, the value of these travel benefits is tax-free.


Travel nursing can be an excellent choice for nurses with an adventurous spirit who want to experience the world. But before you jump into this fast-growing career path, there are some qualifications you need to meet. Registered nurses (RNs) with at least a bachelor’s degree and a valid state license are eligible to become travel nurses. If you’re a working RN and want to position yourself for travel assignments, consider enrolling in an online college that offers a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) program.

Once you’ve completed a bachelor’s degree, complete your RN licensing exam to obtain your license. Then, find a staffing agency that matches you with temporary travel nursing assignments. Typically, travel nurses receive relatively high wages and robust benefits packages. These include housing stipends, which can be tax-free if the nurse has a qualifying tax home.

Some agencies prefer to hire nurses with a few years of clinical experience. But, there’s been a recent shift toward hiring new RNs with little to no experience. To qualify for an assignment, you must prepare for your first day of work by studying the facility’s policies and procedures and learning about the area in which you’ll be traveling.