We often heard travel nursing would take you to places; you will get the chance to explore different locations and cities all over the country. Plus, you will have fun traveling without even paying for it. But guess what?
Travel nursing is an exciting and rewarding profession where you make some good money. But it is not as easy as it may sound. After all, it comes with some hidden expenses that most novice and sometimes even experienced travel nurses get caught if they don’t keep track of everything.
Yes, be careful, where travel nurses make tons of money, sometimes unexpected costs also come in the way.
For instance, If you apply through a travel company to get a nursing license, they will reimburse you for it, for sure. What they don’t tell you is that you also have to pay for any additional charges that will cost you in getting your license. Surprisingly!
But not to worry, there are a few tips to avoid hidden costs in travel nursing. Read these simple tips and keep your money in your pocket.
Do Planning in Advance
It’s always better to be prepared in advance, especially if you are traveling with your family or pets. Planning will save you from unexpected expenses and a lot of headaches.
Gas mileages are the biggest cost waster. I know some companies offer gas reimbursement beforehand, but usually, they give the amount after two weeks of your assignment.
Plan for the time you wait. If that is the case, use smartphone applications to locate the cheapest gas station in your area. Doing this will save you a lot of money.
Typically, travel nurses have to cover long distances in a day or two, and what if you have to travel all in your car. This means a lot of your money will be gone at gas pumps. Fret not!
I have another tip to avoid the hidden cost in your travel nursing career. Simply go online and calculate your drive miles and budget for gas and go to tip 1 (use mobile apps to search for cheapest gas stations). Here are a few examples to get started:
Travel nurses usually get a couple of days in between their assignments. I will recommend you not to stay at hotels or lodges for daily breakfast and bread; instead, consider staying at KOA campsites.
They have small cabins with bunk beds and do not forget grills. Yes, you can cook on grills or order your food from KOA if you do not like grilling.
You can find these campsites easily all across the country and relatively at half the price of an expensive lodge. Don’t forget to take along your sheet and pillow to the camp.
Additionally, cooking your food at KOA will also help to lower your expenses because nursing companies do not take responsibility for your housing expenses in time between contracts.
One more option is a home allowance that most nursing companies offer to travel nurses during their assignments. This is the amount companies pay you to put yourself in a furnished apartment with a single bedroom plus utilities.
Remember, TV or internet charges are not included in this stipend. You have to take care of these expenses by yourself.
Let’s be honest with you; usually, a travel nurse assignment is a three months contract. It is impossible to find an apartment that is fully furnished, pet friendly, and a safe place to live for three months at a cheap rate.
The best way is to let the nursing agency find you housing and if that does not work for you, then following the next best tip to avoid hidden cost in travel nursing is another excellent option.
In travel nursing, almost every next day, you travel to a new place. So, you probably meet new people and so many travel nurses. Every travel nurse you meet has different experiences to share and different pieces of advice to give.
Meeting so many faces has a lot of benefits. Sometimes they offer you to stay with them at their place or help you in finding a good cheap place to live. They can also tell you about the places to avoid and areas where you are most likely to get a house at a low price.
Plus, friends also share the best recreation spots in the town to visit in your off time or weekends.
You can find many groups and resources for Travel Nurses on Facebook Groups.
Consider all costs.
Always do calculations and live on a budget. Know how much you usually spend and tracking your monthly expenses will help you save extra.
If you are thinking of renting furniture, I would recommend you only rent those most needed. For example, Instead of renting the whole furniture, only rent a bed, a dresser, couch, TV or internet, etc.
Another tip to avoid hidden costs in travel nursing is to cut your cable charges and use the internet only. Who wastes time in signing only a three-month short cable contract instead watch shows online.
Next thing, look for housing with dryers and washers; otherwise, a lot of your time and money will be wasted on your trip to the laundry shop. Never buy new kitchen items like spoons, bowls, or plates that will cost you a couple of dollars. Instead, go to some cheap local store and make purchases.
Self-care is the Key!
Exercise is essential for travel nurses and is highly recommended. Instead of going to the gym, save time and exercise at home. Additionally, It will cut your gym expenses. Staying positive on your assignment trips is another great tip.
If and only if you feel unhappy, share with your recruiter the good and bad aspects of the assignment. Next, plan for your next journey. Remember you are not alone in this there is large support at your back. It can be your friend or family or travel nurses.
In any situation, always think there might be somewhere another nurse might face the same as you are going through. The travel nurse community might be slowly growing, but surely it will expand and help each other.
Be Happy and have fun.
Travel nursing is not all about budgeting and planning. When you become a travel nurse, you have started an adventurous journey of your life. So, do not be afraid to venture out and explore new places or try out new things.
Meet new people, make friends and beautiful, memorable memories that will stay with you to the end of your journey that we call life. Moreover, if you like the place you can extend your contract and spend some more time exploring and enjoying.
Let’s take a quick overview of to-do things and tips to avoid hidden costs in travel nursing.
- Pick the best nursing agency-Travel nursing companies often differ in their offers. Some agencies have options that cover all your expenses, whereas others may not. Choose a nursing agency that covers all your traveling and housing expenses.
- Set a budget for your leisure activities-Travel nursing gives you exciting opportunities to experience new places. Instead of going to expensive places like sightseeing, make a budget for leisure activities and stick to it.
- Cook food at home-While you get busy with your assignments, it’s easy to be habitual of eating out or buying food on the move. However, cooking meals at home will save you a lot of money. Furthermore, you can take your homemade food to your workplace for lunch.
In case you do not have a kitchen at your assigned house, then buy dry storage food like pastor soup bowls that microwave well.
- Starting a carpool- Taxi service charges will add up quickly if you use them daily. The best way to save money is to take a walk to your office if it’s located a short distance from your apartment. If not, then consider arranging carpools. Share a car with your friend and drive each other to the office. Using public transport will also reduce cost.
- Compare Prices- Whether you are renting your car or choosing a food place, or visiting a site, always check online for prices and compare. To make sure you get the best possible deal.
- Keep track of spending-Pay close attention to how much you are spending. Otherwise, you are most likely to spend more than intended. Keep a check on all your expenses during your assignment to ensure you are not crossing the red line.
FAQ-Frequently Asked Questions
I have made this section to answer queries that some of you might have. Below are some:
- Can you take a travel nursing assignment close to your home?
Mythically, your travel nursing assignment should be at least 50 miles away from your permanent home. Also known as the 50 miles rule. But in reality, you can choose to work at any hospital close to your permanent residence. The IRS has a general rule that you must be far enough away to spend the night to receive tax free travel per diem. However you can still be paid a flat rate without per diem and be a travel nurse at many hospitals across the country.
2. Can you travel with your family or pets?
Yes, you can travel on nursing assignments with your family or pets. However, the housing may become a bit difficult. Often, travel nurses are provided with a single-bedroom apartment that is not doable for a family to reside.
If you want a big house with several rooms and extra space, you need to pay for it from your pocket (if you are using company-placed housing). Or you can find your own house and ask for a house allowance.
Let the agent know that you are planning to travel with your pet. So they will find a pet-friendly house for you. One more thing, some housing has breed or weight restrictions, which will narrow down our options. Possibilities are you have to pay an additional security deposit.
3. Will I get a furnished house (kitchen items, Internet, Bedding)?
For many nursing companies, furnished houses include the following;
- One bedroom has a queen-sized bed, a dresser, and a lamp.
- Dining room with small kitchen table and four chairs.
- A living room with a coffee table, a couch, a lamp, an end table, a chair, and a TV stand.
Linen, vacuum, dishes, and TV are not included furnished items, and you have to pay for them on your own. Even it is not always necessary to provide you a microwave, washer, or dryer option, and going to the laundromat will cost you extra.
4. Will my house be an apartment, a rental house, or facility-owned housing?
It can be any of the above or even can be a hotel. If you get your job in a big city, there are more chances of getting an apartment. On the contrary, small cities have very few options, and there is more variety in where you have to reside.
Above are just a few of the tips to avoid hidden costs in travel nursing. All these tips and planning will give you the freedom to focus on must-haves instead of trying to recreate the comforts of home.
Sacrificing some of your luxuries will get you the experience that will work for you in the future and keep your cost down. Our last tip is to be aware of unexpected expenses in travel nursing that many times we overlooked.