9 Travel Tips For The First Time Traveler
I now have (almost) five assignments under my belt. I have traveled to Connecticut, Massachusetts, Texas, Tennessee, and I am currently living in Alaska. Time has FLOWN by unbelievably fast - way faster than I ever anticipated. In the last year, I have grown so much as a nurse but also as a human being. There have been hiccups along the way (thanks COVID), but overall it has been an amazing year of learning and growing.
I often get asked, "What advice do you have for someone going into their first travel assignment". I love this question because it's the people that I asked for advice that helped me optimize my travel experience into everything it can be. So, I want to use this post to share some advice.
Travel Tip #1 - Spend the extra money on housing. I have met so many travelers who are unhappy with their housing arrangement, which negatively impacts their travel experience. There are many different housing avenues to take (I will have a separate blog post on housing) and only you know what's best for you. This could mean buying an RV, having a roommate (room renting), or living solo. I understand money is a big factor, but don't sacrifice comfort, security, and happiness for a few hundred bucks a month. Housing can truly make or break an experience.
Travel Tip #2 - Set your travel goals ahead of time. What is your purpose of traveling? Is it to pay off debt? See different parts of the country? Whatever it may be, make a plan/vow to yourself to achieve those goals. For example, Ford and I set a goal of paying off ALL student loans by the beginning of year two. This involved planning, budgeting, and self-control. This may mean you take a job that is not in your ideal location, but the pay is where you need it to be, or vise versa.
Travel Tip #3 - Take fewer things. We learned this one BIG TIME! Pack up the necessities. You don't need to bring all of your kitchen items, shorts to Montana in January, or every pair of shoes or purse. It's a headache to keep up with and move around. Leave what you don't need at your permanent address, in storage, or with family/friends. Remember to seek FURNISHED rentals and ask them ahead of time what they do and do not have so that you're prepared
Travel Tip #4 - Talk money with other travelers (if you want) and have a mentor. I don't advise freely discussing this at work or in front of staff members, because this is tacky; however, travelers can look out for one another and find discrepancies in pay. Also, when you are new, the contracts can be really confusing, so consider having a mentor or more experienced traveler look over it with you and discuss potential concerns. Keep in mind that two travelers may be paid differently in certain circumstances like different contracted hours or needs of the hospital. Also, the ONLY time I discuss what I make as a traveler with permanent staff is when they are truly interested or considering traveling and want to know what to expect. Still, I don't tell them the current rate I'm making, and the conversation is had in private.
Travel Tip #5 - Use more than one travel agency. I do believe there are long-term benefits of staying with one travel company; however, I think it is good to have more than one agency on board. With at least two companies, you will have more job opportunities (every company does not have the same jobs), you can compare rates, and always have more than one person fighting for you. Once you are further in, it will be beneficial to be loyal to a recruiter in a couple of ways.
Travel Tip #6 - The more open, the better. It's fine to have a bucket list, but it becomes stressful when you are set on a specific location at a specific time. Jobs are unpredictable, so getting too specific can make landing a job difficult.
Travel Tip #7 - Don't be greedy. I understand that money is a very important consideration, but people have gone off the wall with these COVID rates. These rates are not sustainable for hospitals and are not going to last forever. Always keep in mind, that travelers made 2-3 times more than staff nurses before COVID. So, please, don't complain.
Travel Tip #8 - Use your resources, but take everything with a grain of salt. I love travel nurse websites, blogs, and Facebook groups. It's nice to have a community of people that understand where you are at in your travel journey. On these pages, you can get reviews on hospitals, cities, find housing options, compare rates, etc. I really do advise doing your research before accepting a position. With that said, keep in mind that people view situations differently, have different reasons for traveling, and may not be the same type of employee as you. So, don't let one bad review scare you away, just investigate further.
Travel Tip #9 - Be your best always. Pleases don't go into an assignment and feel that you can slack, be late, and unprofessional just because you are only there for a short period of time. You are replaceable, they do give reviews on your performance, and you never know what connections you may make for future job opportunities.
I can't wait to learn more in year 2! Thanks for reading, and if you have a travel tip that I missed - drop it in the comments.