Travel Nursing: Choose Your Own Adventure

By Dana Pionk, BSN. RN, CNEcl
Faculty, College of Nursing and Health Care Professions

Man looking out of a plane window

Travel nursing is a unique opportunity to choose your own adventure. Whether you want to experience a big city like New York, the beach life in Malibu or get more connected to nature in Portland, travel nurse positions are generally available in all 50 states and even Guam!

Read below to see if travel nursing is for you!


What is a travel nurse?

Travel nurses are experienced nurses, with at least one year of experience in their current specialty. They are contracted to work for a specified period of time and are an employee of the travel nurse staffing agency. Contracts, also called assignments, range from 8-26 weeks with the most common length being 13 weeks. Travel nurses receive a very short orientation period that will vary depending on facility and you are usually expected to jump right in and get to work.

How do you become a travel nurse?

The first step in becoming a travel nurse is figuring out where you want to go and researching the licensure requirements of that state. Each state has its own license requirements which can be found on the corresponding website for the states board of nursing. If you reside and are licensed in Arizona, your Arizona RN license is a compact license, which means you could travel to any of the 30 states within the nurse licensure compact, without having to obtain the specific license for that state. States not in the nurse licensure compact would require an endorsed nursing license that you would obtain specifically from that states nursing board.

The next step is researching several travel nurse staffing agencies. There are a lot! It is recommended to be on file with several different companies so you have a variety of options. While the total compensation is usually the same between companies, how they allocate the compensation may vary.

Once you connect with a recruiter, you will want to find out things like do they provide housing or just a stipend for housing and do they reimburse for license and additional training certifications that may be required? Additionally, you will want to research how being a travel nurse affects your taxes. While travel nursing is a great way to make a hefty salary in 13 weeks, you need to be aware of how your taxes will be affected.

To succeed as a travel nurse you will need to be open-minded, adaptable to changing environments and be able to go with the flow. Each facility may have different policies and procedures that you will need to adapt to. Not only will you need to easily adapt to your new working environment, but your new living environment as well. Being in a healthy physical and emotional state is a must for travel nurses in order to ensure a smooth transition into your new travel assignment. Travel nursing is an exciting and rewarding way to practice as a nurse and experience different cultures and areas of the country!

The College of Nursing and Health Care Professions helps students prepare for rewarding careers in the healthcare field. Learn more by visiting our website or contacting us using the green Request More Information button at the top of the page


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

Scroll back to top