Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing

Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing

What are the pros and cons of travel nursing? This is the main question that staff nurses ask themselves when debating on becoming a travel nurse. There are many perks that nurses cite when talking about being a traveler such as weekly pay and an opportunity to see a new city, however, the cons are not as thoroughly discussed. The best way to think about the pros and cons of travel nursing is to consider travel nursing vs. staff nursing.

Now, for the first segment of the pros and cons of travel nursing, it’s time to think happy and exciting thoughts…the Pros and benefits of travel nursing vs. staff nursing!


We have the most obvious benefit that sparks staff nurses’ interest in contemplating a potential life as a travel nurse – better pay, and the cherry on top – getting paid WEEKLY. This is a well-known tactic used by travel agencies to attract nurses because it is so highly sought after by disgruntled nurses who are tired of being taxed heavily and left with lower take-home pay. What if I told you that not only can you get paid well and weekly as a travel nurse, but you also have the power and ability to shop around to see what’s available, and NEGOTIATE your pay package. This is what Wanderly offers to nurses who are curious about traveling or even seasoned travelers; to ensure transparency among agencies and enable nurses the opportunity to have a say in and get what they actually deserve, not what agencies and organizations dictate that they deserve.

No Union Dues

Not all hospitals are unionized, but the union dues can definitely add up. This is especially true if you feel like your money goes to waste and that the union “doesn’t even do anything.” This is straight from nurses’ mouths so don’t shoot the messenger, but if your union boasts safer staffing and better pay, why not travel to states with true nurse-patient ratios and demand top pay as a traveler?

Peace of Mind

There is nothing like having peace of mind, especially when it comes to your work environment. Some people spend years in a position they hate or at a facility they’ve come to dread because of politics, being short-staffed, hostile work environments, or dealing with unsupportive management, among many other organizational shortcomings…However, as a traveler, the bright side is that you don’t have to deal with many of those issues, and if you do – it’s only for 13 weeks. If you happen to end up in a unit, hospital, or city you’re not too fond of, it’s temporary and you can move on to the next assignment. Many researchers have found that your mental health is at stake if you continue to work in an environment that you dread or hate where you work, so take control of your own happiness and make a change to improve your own quality of life.

Constant Learning

Travel nursing is a great option for nurses that get bored easily. I always seemed to feel this way after being on a unit for a while and didn’t feel like I was learning as much anymore. Traveling made it so that I had the perfect balance of learning and being challenged because there was always something new or different that other hospitals did. I find this especially true when you travel to a teaching hospital as there are new methods, treatments, or protocols that are evidence-based that may not be available in smaller or community hospitals. Being at the facilities that are at the forefront of research and treatments and participating in the research makes your job more interesting and fulfilling.

Adventure & Discovery

Another known benefit of travel nursing vs. staff nursing is being afforded the ability to explore the new city you’re in. There are countless assignments across the country with plenty to see regardless of where you go – just make sure you don’t get lost while exploring! If you find that you’re not too fond of where you are, again, it’s temporary, but you can also always travel freely in between contracts – which brings me to my next point: Flexibility!

Schedule Flexibility

This one takes the cake for me – I was tired of losing out on vacation time or being last on the list to be able to take a vacation, because I was the youngest or least senior nurse. I addressed that limitation quickly once I became a traveler because prior to signing your contract, you can request your time off and it is protected (so long as your request is reasonable, i.e., not taking 3 weeks off in a 13 week contract). Say goodbye to the days of having to know and plan your schedule 6 months in advance, and hoping you get the slot you want during the summer everyone wants to be off with their kids!

To properly dissect the pros and cons of nursing, let’s start with an honest discussion about the downside to travel nursing.

Cons of Travel Nursing

New Surroundings and Getting Comfortable

It is definitely a challenge to become acclimated to new surroundings and to try to find your way on a new unit – finding the supplies quickly is urgent in situations like a major code brown or in cases where you need epinephrine stat! But honestly, one of the downsides to travel nursing is trying to get comfortable in one place when you only have 13 weeks to do it. It seems as though once you finally get the hang of things, it’s time for your next assignment. While having to adapt and learn quickly is a necessity when it comes to the travel nursing experience, it is also an opportunity to learn what is being done at other facilities to pioneer health care and patient care. This is especially true when working in a teaching hospital, where I have been able to see and participate in more proactive approaches to care and treatment as compared to smaller or more rural hospitals. The travel nursing lifestyle calls for a sense of adventure and those who love to learn quickly and experience new surroundings will thrive, so be honest and ask yourself if you will succeed in such situations or if you’d rather stick to what you know.


Insurance coverage ending when contract ends. A downside to travel nursing that gave me anxiety was worrying about losing health insurance when an assignment ended. This is definitely a benefit that staff nurses don’t need to deal with. This con can be addressed by maximizing the opportunities you can choose from by having various jobs, pay, and benefits packages available to choose from. Using a platform such as Wanderly solves the problem as nurses can use the site to compare what pay/benefits packages the agencies have to offer so you can have minimal to no gaps in employment and insurance coverage.

Lack of Seniority

One of the perks of working for an organization long term is the ability to gain seniority, establish your professional self, and to allow for vertical movement in the organizational structure. One benefit of being a staff nurse that I’ve often heard is the priority that is given to nurses with more seniority as far as vacation requests and schedule preferences. When looking at travel nursing vs. staff nursing, being a travel nurse allows you to have much more control over your schedule and to plan your adventures and trips around the breaks you have between contracts without having to wait years to get that perk.

Leaving Family  

The life of a travel nurse boasts the benefits of traveling and adventure but the travel nursing experience may be difficult to incorporate into the life of a nurse with a family. A major known downside to travel nursing is having to leave family for an assignment, making nurses question if travel nursing is worth it. Meeting new people on assignments, especially other travel nurses, helps to make any new location more manageable by providing social support that helps to make it a bit easier when family and friends are at home. You may also consider local travel assignments and discuss the requirements for local travel with an experienced recruiter and agency.

Not a Permanent Position

You may find yourself sad to leave an assignment that you love, especially if the staff made it a pleasant experience, saying goodbye is hard and I’ve had to do this many times. There is a great amount of stress that comes with not knowing where you’ll work next, but again, maximizing your options by being able to access multiple agencies and their jobs will help ease your stress.

By Tiffany Herrera; RN MSN FNP-C – @Yassstiff

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