One common misconception about travel nursing is that it is only for unfettered individuals seeking high-paying contracts. While the latter is true, the former is simply not the case. Travel nursing is for everyone. Yes, one can be a travel nurse while being a parent. Before you delve into what sacrifices you’d have to make to be both and how it is even viable, we want you to know that many travel nurses have children. So, if they can do it, so can you.
Now, we understand that children are not easy to deal with, especially when they’re constantly on the go. There’s too much to deal with, apart from them getting cranky. So, have your snacks, your entertainment, and a lot of patience. But once you get over that initial hump, it can be gratifying for everyone involved. You and your children experience new states, cultures, and food, which can be a lot of fun. So don’t let anybody tell you, you cannot be a travel nurse because you have a child.
Here are a few tried-and-tested tips to help blend your parental responsibilities with managing your travel nursing assignment like a pro. Without delaying it further, let’s get started.
Travel Nursing with Children: Here are 7 Fail-Safe Tips
Map Out Your Game Plan
The first thing you would want to do is map out your game plan. How much money would you like to bring in for the month? How much are you willing to spend on housing, childcare, cost of living, etc.? There’s no one-size-shoe-fits-all answer for everyone, so obviously, you have to do what’s best for you, your situation, and your budget, but you first want to get that game plan. Write down every slight detail of your conceivable income, taxes, expenses, childcare costs, and what you’d likely be left with at the end of the assignment.
For instance, if you’re making $20,000 for the month because let’s say, you’re only taking assignments that are 4K a week after taxes. If you’re not spending more than $2000 a month on housing and $1000 a month on childcare, that’s about $3000. You’re still left with $17,000, which is still more money than you would be bringing in as a staff nurse. So, mapping out a plan helps you keep track of your earnings while helping you stay within budget.
Arrange a daycare facility
Another thing that troubles parents of younger children are who would look after their child while they work, especially if they’re not traveling with a family member or a spouse. No need to fret, though. Because there are plenty of on-site, local, and home daycares available everywhere, so, before heading out for your travel, do a quick research or ask your recruiter. Some hospitals do have a daycare facility within the hospital for staff at a discounted rate. If the hospital you chose to do an assignment on doesn’t have that option, you can look for reputed local daycares in your area. There are also overnight daycares for night-shift nurses. You have daycares open 24/7, so if you’re open to having a daycare situation, that’s an excellent option to look into. However, be sure to arrange such stuff before entering your workplace.
Look for nannies or babysitters.
If daycare is not your preference, look for annual babysitters or nannies. The kids between the age of 1-12 need constant supervision. They can’t stay home alone, so you would need to have that babysitter/nanny anyway. Once you’ve shortlisted the candidates, invite them for a face-to-face interaction and see how your kids feel around them. It’s a hard decision to make since you’re leaving your kids in strangers’ attendance, so make sure you count every little detail.
Request a family member or a friend to join you.
You can also ask your friend or a family member to join you on your trip. Maybe a retired family member or a friend who’s not working for the time being, would like to assist.
Discussing a payment option is an excellent card to spread to lure them. Another possibility is choosing your nursing assignments in cities where your extended family resides. This would work out flawlessly for your initial and extended family as your children would get a chance to be under the supervision of your loved ones, and your extended family would get to meet you for what I assume after ages.
Consider homeschooling as an option.
Travel nursing offers different challenges for children of different ages. Consider the option of homeschooling for children that are five and older. This is because children of such age are usually enrolled in school. So, instead of enrolling them in one school and then shifting to another, homeschooling them is better. Another option is hiring a personal tutor that can give specific attention to your child and meet his specific needs while you’re on the go. Some travel nurses also enroll their kids in a local school where they work. Education matters, so regardless of what shape your children are getting it in, it’s best to make it as fun and exciting for them as possible. Virtual learning is also a viable option, given you’d be mostly on the go.
Flexibility is crucial for any travel nurse traveling with a kid/family. While we understand that you’re probably doing your best as a parent in all possible ways, and sometimes it’s exhausting to think that it is still not enough, you have no option other than being flexible.
Children like stability and routine; whenever that’s disturbed, they get cranky despite their age. To put things in perspective, you and your kids experience much more than you would if you stayed in one place. So, your being adaptable would work in everyone’s best interests. For instance, ask your kids to tell you anytime they’re tired of moving. All you, as a parent, would have to do is listen to their needs and stop your journey for a while. We can assure these little things matter.
Local Contracts/Drivable Assignments
You can always look into getting a local contract. A local contract is an assignment minimum of 50 miles from your home address. The benefits to this are you’re getting the same travel nurse pay, but you won’t be that far from home.
The con is that it’s 50 miles, so you will drive about an hour and a half which can be exhausting unless you get an Airbnb or a hotel for the few days you’re working. And if you take the option of taking up a local contract and you want to stay in an Airbnb or hotel on the days you’re working, you want to make sure you put in your contract effectively without block scheduling.
How it Works:
Block scheduling is basically if your contract is for three days a week, you put detail that you want to work three days back-to-back. So you’re going to work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. You’re going to work three days straight. And then you can go back home and be with your family, and you’re not going too far in an emergency.
Moreover, you want to ensure it’s at least 50 miles because 50 miles is the minimum qualification to receive the tax-free traveling stipend, i-e, money not taxed, and it covers your housing, meals, and transportation. This is separate from the base pay you get for hospital work. So let’s say you’re at 110 an hour for your three or four shifts, whatever you choose, and then you can get an additional $1000 a week toward housing, meals, and transportation. Essentially, $4000 per month extra on top of your basic pay.
A lot of people seem to be afraid of taxes. But you must understand you’re still making more money than you would make as a staff nurse. Staff nurses range from 25 to 50 an hour. Travel nurses now range from 70 to 140 an hour, depending on what state they’re going to, their specialty, and all that good stuff.
Try to work things out in your area. If you live in Chicago, try to look for jobs that are 50 miles away from you in Chicago. And then take advantage of not spending on housing. You don’t have to get housing because you’re driving home. You can get a rental car and use some of the stipend money for a rental car, so you’re not putting mileage on your car for the most part. You can pocket all that money you would be getting for housing, meals, incidentals, etc., and use it elsewhere or spend it to your liking.
Traveling with children can be challenging initially because you have your suitcase, their suitcase, their car seat, and their stroller to bring to a new city. Then come the long plane rides and their crankiness. So definitely have your snacks, your entertainment, and a lot of patience. But once you get over that initial hump, that initial journey can be enriching for everyone involved.
You and your child experience new states, cultures, and food, and it can be a lot of fun. So don’t let anybody tell you you cannot be a travel nurse because you have a child.
There are so many resources and options out there, do your research, and don’t let any fear hold you back. You must find what works for you, your family, and your situation. We say go for it and try it; if it doesn’t work out, that’s fine. At least you can say you know what? I did it, and it just wasn’t for me.
There are so many benefits of traveling with your children. You get to experience a whole new world together. As a staff nurse, you often get caught up in your policies and procedures for your specific unit or hospital, and there’s no time to do anything else. Travel nursing is way better than staff nursing in that regard. You get paid twice as much usually. People may not think they can travel with their family or children, but it’s definitely doable. It just takes a little extra effort and a little more planning. But it’s worth the trouble.