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This Changed My Life: A Positive Travel Nursing Experience


  • Review a travel nursing experience from a nurse on their seventh contract
  • Understand the risks and benefits as a travel nurse
  • Identify important takeaways for a positive travel nursing experience
Jacob Altman


I am currently on my seventh travel nursing assignment and looking for my eighth contract. I was a staff nurse for only sixteen months before I signed my first travel nurse contract. So, I started as a new nurse in January 2020. Right out of school, I wanted to be an inpatient psychiatric nurse based on my favorite clinical experience in school.


Muslim woman nurse ready to take care of patients


COVID-19 Influenced My Career Path

I learned quickly on the job and gained a lot of wonderful experience. I had great coworkers, many who had worked at the same hospital for ten plus years. The pandemic brought a lot of changes to that hospital. The staff turnover increased, and my hospital started hiring travel nurses to staff the COVID-19 units.

More Shifts at Work

Some of my favorite coworkers were leaving in pursuit of their own travel nursing experience. The hospital hired even more travel nurses just to keep some of the units open. After a year as a staff nurse, I was already starting to feel some burn-out. It was frustrating being asked to train new graduate nurses, travel nurses, and be the charge nurse while also taking a full patient load.

On the Job

I had a great nurse manager, and the supervisors always made me feel appreciated. However, it did bother me knowing that I was earning one fourth of what the travelers were earning. I also had much more responsibilities than my travel nurse colleagues. After being at that job for twelve months, I was one of the more tenured night shift nurses at the hospital.

A nurse wearing a mask and scrubs looking upset

Beginning My Travel Nursing Experience

I was asked about my interest in being the nurse supervisor at night. This got me thinking about my future. Being a staff nurse became monotonous for me. I felt limited in life.

The Gears Started to Shift

My schedule was good, but never changed. My planned weekend activities were fun, but there were things I really wanted to do that my budget could not accommodate. I lived in Michigan, and one of my dreams was to play golf in the desert. While there was snow outside my window, Google told me it was 75 degrees and sunny in Arizona.

Realities of My Travel Nursing Beginnings

After some research, I realized there was no way to justify the price tag. I played golf at a simulator the next day and knew I needed a change. I am blessed to be traveling with my partner, who is also a nurse. Our first contract was in 2021. In 2021, the contracts generally paid more than they do now, and there were a lot more available.

Securing a Travel Nurse Contract

Being a psych registered nurse, there are significantly fewer positions available for me compared to my partner who can do telemetry, med surg, step down, and similar options. Travel nursing has worked well so far. We decide on a state where there are contracts available for me, and she looks for jobs that are close. We have worked in four states and have never had to commute more than 40 minutes for a travel nursing experience.

A positive travel nurse experience depicted by a nurse making a heart

Travel Nursing Tips

My first travel assignment was nerve wracking. Recruiters can get very pushy once they get your information. When you decide on a contract, things move quickly. Being flexible, competent, and having a positive attitude have gotten me through all my assignments with references and extension offers.

Travel Nursing Pro Tips

Have all your licenses and certifications saved in one place in order for things to process smoothly. Pro tip: take the stipend and find your own housing. Try to have detailed first day instructions by the Friday before your contract starts.

Diving into the Travel Nursing Mindset

“I can do any job for 13 weeks” gets me through the tough assignments. After my first assignment, I started to think bigger. Another assignment was 12 hours away from my home in Michigan, and that was safe for me. If I had a long stretch of days off, I could go home and see my family.

Nursing on My Terms

I went home for two weeks after the first assignment, and I saw snow again. For my second assignment, I made my dream come true. I applied for an Arizona license and got a contract. Not long after a few days of driving, I was playing golf in January.


Not only could I afford it, but I was making the most money I had ever made in my life. That contract was tough, but worth it. After my first year of nursing, I was feeling burnt out. I have felt that way a couple times since I started traveling, but there are usually two or three weeks left in the contract and something new to look forward to.