The travel healthcare professional lives an exciting life – but it’s not always the easiest profession when it comes to navigating relationships. As a travel healthcare professional, you will be faced with making many emotional and physical sacrifices when choosing to leave your home, family, and friends behind. While traveling can be a freeing experience for one to find themselves, many will eventually find themselves lonely. Read on for the best travel tips for traveling.
We’re a married travel nurse couple that travels in our RV full-time with our cat! We’ve been travel nursing for 4 years and couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. Having your person to travel with makes the adventure so much more fun. We try to work the same shifts so that we have days off to explore the area together. Traveling with a loved one makes being away from home and family easier. Do you have to have an adventure partner to start the travel nurse journey? NO WAY! Do we recommend it? Of course! We think it makes travel nursing so much more exciting! –@wereoutnabout
Travel with a Partner: Balancing Career & Relationship
If you are lucky enough to have a partner at the time you choose to become a traveler, you will need to consider not only the logistics of how it will work but also your financial plan going forward. Travel healthcare professionals leave a reliable full-time job for freedom but also, an unstable travel career that includes working long hours and traveling to new destinations. If your partner chooses to leave their job or work remotely this can only add to the stress. But with patience, a well-thought-out plan, excellent communication and flexibility, traveling with a partner can make your travel healthcare career one of the best decisions of your life.
My name is Tina and I have been a traveling emergency department nurse for five years. I always knew I wanted to be a travel nurse, but questioned whether the career would fit into my path in life. For me, the first step in deciding if the travel healthcare profession was for me was to jump in and try it.
In 2018, I took my first travel assignment with a good friend in Massachusetts where my parents lived. It was the perfect way to ease into the lifestyle and I wasn’t alone in a completely different work environment. After my second travel assignment two hours from home, I sat down with my then-boyfriend to discuss what our future would look like if I choose to continue working as a travel nurse.
Asking the Hard Questions
- Would my then-boyfriend (Doug) stay back, while I look for travel assignments closer to home?
- Would he be comfortable with leaving his job, his home, and life as he knew it to travel with me?
Once Doug decided he was 100% on board with joining my travel nurse lifestyle, more questions arose.
- Would he be able to find work? Or would we financially be ok with just my unpredictable income?
- Where would we live – hotels, long-term stays, Airbnb’s, an RV?
- Should we take two vehicles, or would only one vehicle be sufficient?
- Lastly, how long did we envision ourselves traveling while following my travel nurse assignments?
Fast forward five years and we are still at it. I have now worked in ten of the 50 states. My then-boyfriend is now my fiancé and soon-to-be husband. We are currently living in our second RV and absolutely love the RV lifestyle and the people we get to meet along the way. Our 2-3 year plan to travel the country now has no end date in sight.
Challenges of Travel Nursing while in a Relationship
All relationships require a solid foundation of good communication, commitment to one another, and compromise to make them work. Managing relationships while working as a travel healthcare professional will demand you excel at these elements. Whether your partner travels with you or not, it will be imperative you lean on each other for support. Travelers consistently face additional stress that comes with frequently relocating and balancing a work-life schedule.
On one assignment, I was taking care of a patient and we were chatting she found out my fiancé worked there too and she gave us some advice, “my husband died when he was young, but we always prioritized our off time together, so I’m at peace with it. It’s a small piece of advice I want you to have, when you two are off, pay for services so you can optimize and enjoy your life together, get a cleaning person, drop off your laundry to be serviced, and so on.” So every assignment we work together we hire a cleaning service and do a laundry drop-off service to enjoy all of our downtime together. The money is far less important than our time together. – @r__walk
After choosing to become a travel healthcare professional one of the first things to do is to decide what role your partner will take in your new career path. Will they join you on your assignments or stay behind? Now that remote work is becoming more common, career opportunities have greatly grown. If remote work is not an option for your partner, consider whether each or both have the flexibility to visit one another while on assignment. Many travel healthcare professionals with partners at home opt to block their schedules by grouping their shifts together to allow them adequate time off to visit home while on assignment. All these options are achievable, but you will face unique challenges with each.
My fiancé, Doug, had recently been laid off just prior to beginning my travel nurse career. Looking back now, it was a blessing because it allowed him to make the easy decision to join me on the road and my travel nurse adventure. Navigating jobs on the road was difficult to start, especially when it came to moving every 13 weeks.
However, over the past few years, my fiancé has worked odds and ends jobs including working at a garden center and delivering food through door-dash. However, his favorite jobs while on the road have been opportunities that allow him to work the campgrounds we are staying at while on my travel nurse assignment, doing a variety of tasks. These types of jobs are typically called work camping opportunities. Currently, Doug is back in school to become a full-time remote bookkeeper.
I take pride in the opportunity to provide for my family and help my fiancé find work toward his passions, but it works both ways. I know that if I did not have such a supportive partner that puts all my needs, especially my career first, I would not still be living my dream as a travel nurse.
Financial Stability & Insurance Options
It is well known that travel healthcare professionals make significantly more money than staff healthcare providers, but many people do not know that there is a high level of uncertainty that comes with the travel healthcare career. Aspiring travelers should keep in mind that:
- Landing your first gig as a traveler can be difficult.
- Specific work preferences or specialties can make landing a job more challenging.
- Canceled contracts (before or during your contract) are not uncommon. Suddenly finding yourself without a job can cause many travelers and couples to panic.
In terms of insurance, travel nurses typically have to secure their own health insurance while on contract, which can be a challenge if they have a significant other who also needs coverage. Some options for travel nurses to consider when it comes to insurance for themselves and their partners include:
- Purchasing private insurance: Travel nurses can purchase private health insurance, either individually or as a family, to ensure they have coverage while on contract.
- Using their partner’s employer-sponsored insurance: If their partner has employer-sponsored health insurance, they may be able to enroll in that plan and use it while traveling.
- Enrolling in a short-term health insurance plan: Short-term health insurance plans are designed for individuals who need temporary coverage and can be an option for travel nurses and their partners.
- Using insurance provided by the travel nurse agency: Some travel nurse agencies offer insurance options for their employees and their families, which can be a convenient option for travel nurses with a significant other.
It’s important for travel nurses to carefully research their options and compare insurance plans to find the best coverage for their specific needs and budget.
For general financial well-being, the best tip I can offer is to establish an emergency fund (or EF) prior to embarking on the travel life. An EF should cover a minimum of 3 months of expenses in case the worst were to happen. Maintain this EF fund prior to and throughout the duration of your travel career.
Finally, if your partner will not be working or there is a possibility that he or she will not be able to find employment while traveling, consider if your contract pay is enough for you both to survive on.
Far From Home
Leaving home to become a traveler can be an exciting part of your new career. Exploring an unfamiliar town filled with exciting new adventures with newly made friends is an added benefit for many travelers. However, while working a new job and hanging out in a new city and friends may fill much of your time, you and your partner may still be left longing for home.
Doug and I have spent some time in the last five years in hotels and AirBnB’s while on assignment. While having a whole new space was exciting at first, we missed the comfort of our own bed, couch, and simple luxuries such as our coffee maker and other household items we had become accustomed to. This is one of the reasons we choose and love the RV life.
Nurses can choose to take assignments within a driving distance from home or block their schedule allowing them to return home on their days off to see their partner. If your partner does have some flexibility and time in their schedule, have them plan a visit to explore your new city together. The best part about travel nursing is once your contract is up, you can take as much time off before starting another contract as you want.
Best Tips for Traveling With Your Partner
Couples who travel together say they are more likely to be satisfied in their relationship and enjoy spending quality time together in a new environment. But is important to remember that even though you are on this journey together, you may have very different day-to-day roles. By prioritizing your communication with one another you can prevent your significant other from becoming bored and resentful while you are working.
Tip #1: Plan Where to Explore & Adventure Together
One of the top reasons to become a travel nurse is the opportunity to explore new areas. Most couples generally enjoy similar likes and interests. To start, make a bucket list of places and things that interest you and your significant other. Frequently visit and add to this bucket list. Having a bank of bucket list places you and your partner agree on will make choosing an assignment easier. Locations with friends or family nearby are also great to prevent any loneliness during long shifts. Planning destinations to explore and adventure together will allow you to enjoy your contract destination to the fullest.
My fiancé and I have found a true love for the water. In fact, all of our favorite destinations have encompassed water in some way. In the past four of five winters, we have found ourselves on the coast of Florida in the winter and exploring tourist destinations with beautiful lakes and waterfalls in the summer. Our favorite part of traveling together is creating lifelong memories together along the way.
Tip #2: Be Patient with One Another
Moving to a new area once can be an overwhelming task. Asking your partner to do this with you up to four times a year can test your relationship. It is important to be patient with one another while you embark on the unknown. While asking your partner to run to the grocery store used to be a simple task that may have taken one hour back in your hometown. This task now requires a GPS to get there, more time to explore the new grocery store and layout, and an enormous amount of patience just to find the one ingredient in your recipe. Going to the grocery store can be a monumental task for one day.
You will learn a lot about yourself constantly being placed in new situations in new places. And if you don’t already know your significant other’s strengths and weaknesses, you will quickly learn what they are. You will learn how to work together to achieve a common goal, compromise endlessly and trust each other’s instincts.
Tip #3: Focus on Yourselves & Your Relationship
Traveling with a significant other is a wonderful way to strengthen your relationship. You will likely rediscover why you fell in love with your best friend again, and hanging out with each other will never feel like a chore because you are with your best friend.
However, it is important to set some boundaries and spend some time apart while traveling. Many open travel nurse positions are night shift (because let’s face it, it is the least desired shift). It is important for you to communicate a timeline to your partner to allow you adequate time to rest and recover before and after your long shift.
I have personally seen relationships between travel nurses and their partners fail because they are together nonstop outside of work. Having personal space and enjoying individual hobbies will ensure a strong relationship. I was never one for many hobbies prior to travel nursing, however, I have discovered I enjoy a challenging puzzle. Puzzles help calm my busy mind and keep my stress levels down in a demanding career. I will sit at the kitchen tables for hours working on one while my fiancé enjoys watching various sports events on television. We enjoy our separate hobbies while still being close to one another.
Finally, be sure to make time for regular check-ins to ensure the travel lifestyle is still working for both of you.
Best Tips for Traveling Without Your Partner
While you may dream of traveling with your spouse or partner, sometimes this just may not be possible. And you know what? You can still absolutely enjoy travel nursing alone.
Tip #1: Set a Schedule & Expectations
If your partner isn’t able to travel with you, it is a great idea to sit down and discuss your expectations of one another prior to your first assignment. Long-distance relationships can be stressful, but having open and honest communication with one another will ease this burden.
Setting expectations of one another will allow you and your partner to spend less time discussing (or arguing) about who should or needs to be doing what and allow better manage a healthy relationship.
For instance, when my fiancé and I did not travel together, he was in charge of grocery shopping and keeping the house clean. While I was in charge of the finances and making appointments and phone calls. This allowed us to enjoy our time off together. Every relationship functions differently, therefore it is important to take into account each other’s strengths and weaknesses when setting expectations.
Tip #2: Check-in & Communicate Often
Schedule time to provide one another with undivided attention. Whether it is taking a few minutes at the end or beginning of your shift or discussing your schedule weekly or monthly. Consider the best way and time to communicate with one another and make it a ritual.
Remember to discuss your short and long-term goals frequently. These may include, career, fitness, financial or personal goals. Discussing these goals will ensure you both remain on the same page despite being apart from one another.
Tip #3: Work on Personal Goals
While being away from your significant other may not be ideal, this could in fact be the perfect time to achieve certain goals you have had your eye on. It may be a career goal, such as working on a certification or going back to school, a personal fitness goal, or wiping out any financial debt. If you are not returning home on your days off you will have plenty of time to yourself to work on these goals without feeling guilty that you are spending extra time away from your partner. If getting ahead financially is your goal, you may have the opportunity to work a few extra shifts to help reach them.
Spending your days tackling a goal rather than curling up on the couch watching endless episodes of a show will keep you focused and productive. There is something so satisfying about reaching your goals whatever they may be!
Making A Relationship Work as a Traveler
If you choose to travel with or without your partner, you will no doubt find yourself up against many new and unique challenges. But, stepping outside your comfort zone in regards to your career, your location and your relationship can allow you to learn so much about yourself and your partner.
We’ve been traveling together as a PT pair for 7 years and have loved our journey! Traveling with a partner made it so much easier to take the leap, plus being together has allowed us to continue traveling for a long time. It’s amazing always knowing you have an adventure partner, plus someone to share the ups and downs of travel healthcare with. One downfall of traveling as a pair though is you do tend to stick to yourselves more & don’t always go out of your way to make new connections with people on assignment! – @traveltherapymentor
Communicate clearly and frequently whether you are with or without your partner to ensure you are on the same page. Allow yourself adequate rest periods during and after a contract so your relationship can be sustainable and continue to thrive. Also know it is ok if travel nursing does not work for your relationship. It does not mean you have failed, you and your significant other both entered outside your comfort zones and that in itself is courageous and admirable.
Tina Nault is the face behind @thervtravelnurse and the author behind her own blog. She has been an ER nurse for over 7 years now and has spent the last 4 and a half years traveling the country as a travel nurse. After setting out on her travel nurse journey in 2018, she and her fiancé bought a fifth-wheel RV to call home for them and their cats. She began her journey when travel nursing and RV living was a less popular concept. Since then, she has traveled around the country and absolutely thrives on the lifestyle, and offers advice to others. She has started her own blog, thervtravelnurse.net where she shares travel nurse tips, helpful resources, tips for living in an RV, and some of the amazing destinations she has been.