Preparing for your first travel assignment can be challenging and a little scary. Here are a few insider tips for new nurse and allied travelers to help get you on your way.

If your license doesn’t allow you to work in other states you will need to file for reciprocity. For nurses, google the board of nursing in the state where you want to travel  (for example CA BON) and search for reciprocity. Radiologists can google the state and radiology reciprocity or ask your recruiter.

Immunization requirements are different from state to state and may even differ between counties in the same state. Most require you to have proof of immunization to both types of measles, mumps and varicella. If you are looking at Texas as your travel destination you are also required to have a Tetanus Diphtheria and Acellular Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine within the last 10 years. Discuss your immunization requirements with your recruiter early to avoid any delays.

Welcome centers, city websites and google can all be great tools for travelers. Get a look at where you are going before you get there. When you know where you will be staying map the route to work. Are there tolls on your way? Google how much the tolls are by going to Google Maps. In place of the address type the city tolls (San Francisco tolls). Then google the name of the toll plaza and cost (Bay Bridge toll plaza cost). On Google Maps you can also “find Nearby” things like fast food, movie theaters and even the nearest gym with a swimming pool. See what is close to you or the tourist destination you are going to visit. Need coffee? Ya…that too!

What’s up with the pay?

Pay rates are calculated a bit differently when you travel. Your hourly pay rate will be different than you are used to. Why? Your pay now comes in a package that includes your housing while you are on assignment, your flight to and from the city and car rental or mileage if you are driving your own car. The package usually differs for each assignment and depends on how much the hospital is offering. It’s yours to spend or budget wisely and end up with more in your pocket.

Housing is the term used  when talking about where you will stay. You will get a budget, from your recruiter, that usually covers the cost of a comfortable, fully stocked and furnished apartment. Got a friend  or family member you can stay with near your assignment? Good for you! All of that housing budget goes in your pocket. Nurses are buddying up to travel. Trendy couples are opting for the comfort of their own camping trailers reducing housing costs to far less than a furnished apartment. This allows these savvy travelers to sleep in a bed they own with all of their own pillows. Airbnb and sites like it are  great resources for everything from a fully furnished apartment with things like a jetted tub in the bathroom and on site gym to the basic twin bed in a shared house, and so many options in between. Your travel coordinator may be able to find a comfortable in-law house, a separate house in the back yard of the main house, that includes its own little kitchen for a little more than half your housing budget. This makes for an enjoyable stay with a few extra bucks in your pocket for site seeing.  A bonus with some options is access to laundry onsite but it can be found and even searched for on sites like Airbnb.  Go ahead and check it out for yourself. It’s free to look and you will be able to give your travel coordinator a better idea of what you are hoping for and you will have a better idea of how far your budget is going to take you.

In between assignments.

Your contract is usually for 13 weeks but will often be extended for an additional 13 weeks. Working closely with your recruiter will make planning for the time between assignments easier so you can make the most of your road trips. Some travelers go home while others take a couple of weeks to see the sites on the way to their next assignment. Before the end of your assignment make sure to get up to date with your recruiter. You will need to update your resume to include your current assignment. Also update things like your TB test, license, CPR cards, annual testing and CEUs as needed. Check with your recruiter/credentialer to be sure everything is updated before your current assignment ends. It will be easier to update when you are not on the road in unfamiliar surroundings. Then you are free to enjoy the adventure. Tourist “traps”, wineries, national parks, fabric shops, historic homes….so many places to explore.

Friends on the road

Once the last minute to do list is complete and the excitement of getting into the new place wears off it can get a little lonely. You are probably not the only Elite travel nurse in town. Ask your recruiter if there are others in the area and make plans to hook-up. Some of the best friendships have been made on assignment.


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