Pros and cons of travel nursing

Nomad Health
September 5, 2023
Reading time:
5 min

Thinking about taking a travel nurse assignment?

Taking a travel nurse job is an exciting opportunity for adventure, travel, and new experiences. However, being a traveling healthcare professional is a big lifestyle change and can take some getting used to. If you love adventure, traveling, and meeting new people, traveling might be the perfect fit for you! So let's dig into the good, bad, and everything between.

Pros of being a travel nurse

You’re not tied down

The average travel nurse assignment is 13 weeks at a time. This means you have enough time to get comfortable and make meaningful connections without having to worry about staying in a workplace environment that’s not your perfect fit. If you do really enjoy your assignment, ask your Nomad Navigator about extending your contract!

You get to travel

Do you want to see the Grand Canyon? Or visit San Francisco? New York maybe? Working as a travel nurse gives you the opportunity to travel all over the U.S. for work. You can plan your dream trips and get paid to visit them. Nomad offers assignments in all 50 states in the U.S.

Higher pay

One of the best benefits of a career in travel nursing is the compensation. Typically travel nurses earn more than staff positions, although pay varies based on certifications, experience, and the location where you take your assignment. Nomad has one of the industry's highest travel nurse contract rates, which are already higher than permanent and staff positions, with an untaxed stipend to cover living costs. At Nomad we value transparency and share all pay details up-front on job descriptions. Additionally, our tech-driven platform allows us to pass along savings to our travel nurses so you get higher rates.

You’re in the driver’s seat

Search for the perfect fit! As a travel nurse, you are in charge of choosing the assignment that’s right for you. On Nomad’s platform we share all job details up front, sort by assignment dates, pay, location, and more. Nomad provides pay rate transparency, all job details include a pay breakdown where you can view your taxable income and per diem and housing stipend.

Fewer office politics

You don’t have to stress about office politics. Every workplace is unique with different management styles, coworkers, and cultures. After 13 weeks if you decide you are not fond of the facility you can move on to something better. In a time when burnout is at an all-time high for nurses, it is important your work environment is best suited to you.

Time to unwind

You can take extended time off throughout the year. As a travel nurse, you can take time off between assignments. If you want to save money and travel the world, you have the option to do so! Or if you just want 2-weeks off for some well-deserved me-time, go ahead. You don’t have to stress about requesting time off, instead, you’re in control of your schedule.

Avoiding burnout

Burnout is a serious issue for healthcare workers, according to a 2022 survey conducted by Incredible Health, 34% of nurses say they are very likely to leave their roles by the end of the year with 44% of those nurses stating burnout and high-stress environments as their reason for leaving. As a travel nurse, you are granted the flexibility to take time off to take care of yourself and work where you are most needed. You get the pay you deserve, with less stress. With fewer politics and a change of scenery, you can fight feeling burnt out as a travel nurse.

Support when you need it

Instead of traditional recruiters, we have our team of Nomad Navigators who work together to move your applications from start to finish, similar to runners in a relay race. These support specialists are expertly trained in a particular phase of the hiring process, so you'll be in good hands every step of the way. Once you’re on assignment, you get an On Assignment Navigator who works closely with you to ensure that your needs are being met while you work. You can reach out to your On Assignment Navigator at any point with questions during your assignment.

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Cons of travel nursing

Accepting risk

Taking a travel assignment can be unpredictable. Due to the seasonal nature of healthcare staffing, facility needs might change during an assignment. Facilities and staffing partners hold the power to dictate rate changes to or even cancel your contract. This includes potential changes to your pay rate, which Nomad will alert you of and provide you with the newest breakdown of your blended rate. If a facility no longer has the same demand for staff, it is possible that your contract will be canceled mid-assignment. We will always alert you on upcoming changes during your contract or application and give you time to make a decision about whether you feel comfortable proceeding at the new rate offered. While it is not always possible, Nomad will also always advocate for a 2-week notice regarding contract cancellations so that you have time to plan accordingly. Nomad always has your back, your Navigator is dedicated to ensuring you have the best possible travel experience.

Figuring out the details

There are a lot of details when it comes to travel nursing, including arranging your housing for your assignment. The ability to choose for yourself can be exciting or overwhelming. So, if you love trying out new Airbnbs this could be great for you! Coordinating your travel arrangements allows you to choose what suits you best but also means you have to be cautious about possible changes to your assignment dates and how that affects your plans.


Preparing for your perfect travel nurse assignment is much easier if you have your documents, records, and licenses up to date. Keeping these documents updated will help you quickly apply to new assignments and complete your credentialing process. Nomad also offers reimbursement for any certifications you may need for your upcoming assignment.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

You will enter new work environments and be the “newbie” when you start your travel assignments. It can be hard getting acclimated to a new city, job, and unit all at once. Adapting and learning quickly can be overwhelming, like when you need to find supplies asap in a facility completely new to you. These new situations present the opportunity to become familiar with new surroundings and grow as a travel nurse.

Getting started with minimal orientation

You may not get a thorough orientation at the start of your new assignment. Every travel nurse assignment will provide different first-day information, sometimes you are told the bare minimum while other assignments may give you a detailed schedule outlining your entire first week. Some organizations may require travel nurses to complete online educational modules before you start. There is no “typical” travel orientation, however, you can prepare by taking initiative by asking what orientation will entail during your interview, making sure you have all required documents, and completing any early learning modules.

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Is travel nursing the right fit for me?

Are you adaptable? Open-minded? You must be a skilled, confident, and flexible healthcare professional. You will be exposed to different ways of doing things, new people, and living in a new place. Being eager to learn and open to new experiences will help you become a successful travel nurse. Travel nursing is not for everyone. There are times when you’ll feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, and that’s okay. Be ready to ask for help and you must be dedicated to your own professional development. Think travel healthcare is a good fit? If the following statements resonate with you, travel nursing might be a good fit for you.

  • You want to travel around the US
  • You have at least 1-year of experience in total
  • Have strong references, can pass a drug test, are ready for a skills checklist, and can smash a phone interview
  • You can jump into a new facility and are excited to help
  • You are willing to be flexible

I am with Nomad and LOVE them...they really love feedback and are open to hearing what nurses need and want.
Terri N.
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Nomad Health
Nomad Health is transforming the way clinicians discover rewarding career opportunities through an easy-to-use platform with personalized job matches, industry-leading pay, and on-the-job support. Offering healthcare staffing technology backed by human support for the entire journey – from profile creation to assignment completion – Nomad Health removes every obstacle between clinicians and the patients they care for.

Published: Sep. 6, 2023
Modified: Sep. 5, 2023