Travel nursing offers an excellent opportunity for nurses seeking diverse career opportunities and a bigger paycheck while also exploring new places around the country. If you travel nurse with family members, it also provides a chance for everyone to go on an amazing adventure. Whether you’re traveling with a spouse and/or children, or just some four-legged family members, use these tips to make the most of the experience.
Is Travel Nursing with Family Allowed?
New travel nurses with families often wonder whether they can bring their family members with them on the road. It’s unlikely you’ll find a travel nurse agency that doesn’t allow their nurses to bring their loved ones along. Many recruiters even encourage it. However, some agencies are better at helping you with the logistics of travel nursing with your family than others. Ask the agency whether it has any recruiters who are used to working with families and could provide additional help working through the various challenges.
Ups and Downs of Traveling with Your Spouse
Travel nursing isn’t just for singles. It’s relatively common for spouses and significant others to accompany their traveling partners. Traveling with someone you care about can be a lot of fun as you explore new places together. It often provides an ideal opportunity to travel at a much lower expense and without the need to wait until both of you can book vacation time. If one or both of you have family members spread across the country, travel nursing might allow you to visit them more regularly. Many couples also find that traveling together strengthens their relationships.
However, employment can be a big issue for your significant other. Depending on the length of your travel assignment, it can be hard for them to find a job in each new location. Luckily, in today’s world, their job may allow them to work remotely. Remote work arrangements create an ideal situation for traveling with you because your spouse can work from anywhere. If they don’t have a job that meshes with traveling, they can still look for work-from-home job opportunities or check with temporary job placement agencies to see if they have any short-term assignments that match their job skills and interests.
Another potential downside for travel spouses is frequent moves make it difficult to develop friendships. It’s important that spouses have outside interests to put them in contact with like-minded individuals, especially if they’re not working outside the home. If you’re wondering what your spouse can do while you travel nurse, it really comes down to what they like to do.
Athletic spouses might consider joining a local gym or an adult recreational league. Bookworms can seek out book clubs. Artistic or musically-inclined spouses might find something of interest through the parks and recreation department or an arts center. These are just a few possible places to find friendly companionship on the road and prevent them from becoming lonely while you’re at work.
Joys and Challenges of Traveling with Kids
Some major perks when you travel nurse with family are the ability to spend more time with your kids and enjoy crucial milestones in their lives. The time when your kids are young is fleeting, and you never get it back. Bringing your kids along allows you to enjoy many more of those moments together. Plus, kids often enjoy their extended family vacations.
Traveling with your kids also provides numerous opportunities to see new sights and discover new things together. Besides kid-friendly activities like zoos, amusement parks, arcades, etc., look for interesting museums, art galleries, state and national parks and other venues to expand your children’s cultural experiences.
Each new location exposes them to different cuisines, cultures and traditions as you travel to various regions of the country. This exposure provides its own unique learning experiences that help mold your youngsters into more adaptable adults who embrace diversity.
Despite the many joys, travel nursing with kids also comes with a slew of challenges. The top concern is usually schooling. You don’t want them to miss out on a solid education. While it’s possible to register them for public schools in each location, especially if you choose extended contracts, it’s not always the ideal plan for every child. You can also opt to only travel nurse during summer vacations. You might consider homeschooling if your spouse comes along and works from home. Another option is virtual schools.
Virtual schooling became necessary for parents nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic and school shutdowns. If your child adapted well to the online learning environment, virtual public school programs still exist. These programs provide students with consistency and a good education through tuition-free, K-12 online classes taught by state-certified teachers. If you opt-out of in-person instruction, find activities that allow your children to interact with other kids their age.
Hanging out with other kids brings up another potential complication. Like spouses who find it challenging to make new friends after each move, children face a similar problem. Leaving their friends behind can be especially difficult for your children but making new friends can also be rewarding. Plus, with modern conveniences, keeping in touch with their old and new friends is much easier with texting and video chat.
It puts a bit more pressure on you if you’re a single parent and travel nurse, but it can still be done. Besides the usual concerns, single parents potentially face the additional difficulty of finding trustworthy childcare in each new location. Vetting daycare facilities or babysitting/nanny services is one more hurdle to consider, even for nurses who travel with a spouse/partner when both of you work outside the home.
Tips for Travel Nursing with Pets
Pets are an extended part of your family, and their support and companionship make travel nursing more enjoyable. Therefore, many nurses like to know if they can travel with their fur babies. Most travel nurse agencies usually welcome furry friends, but housing can sometimes be an issue. Not all travel housing is pet friendly, so it’s a vital issue you must explore every time you search for suitable accommodations. Besides potentially having fewer housing options, be prepared to pay pet fees, which are often non-refundable and can be high.
Pets also change the dynamics in other ways and present unique challenges like documentation. Appropriate documentation is critical when traveling to/through states with what’s referred to as “pet checkpoints.” At a minimum, you must be able to provide proof of current rabies vaccination. Some states may require additional vaccinations or other requirements, such as an interstate health certificate from your veterinarian. If you’re flying by plane, different airlines may require several types of certifications and proof of treatment for tapeworms.
Your vet should be able to tell you everything you need to know about traveling with your pet. Take the time to ask because some states are super strict and quarantine pets when pet parents don’t meet every requirement. Quarantines can last 120 days. That’s a long time for Fido or Fifi to be locked in a cage away from you. Start prepping several months in advance and get your pet microchipped in case you become separated from each other.
Do Travel Nurses get Stipends for Their Family?
Stipends are tax-free monies paid to qualified travelers to cover housing, meals and other incidentals and are an essential part of your overall pay package. Travel contracts include a set dollar amount for stipends and don’t usually take into account whether you’re traveling with family members. Most travel nurse agencies typically cap stipends to ensure they don’t lose money. Although you can negotiate for larger stipends, be prepared to pay at least part of your travel costs yourself, including housing.
Housing and the Travel Nurse Family
One of the major benefits of travel nursing is free housing if you qualify. When you travel nurse with family, you still qualify for housing, but it might not be completely free. Depending on your housing needs, you may pay out of pocket for rent or receive a reduced pay rate if you take agency-provided housing. Your home away from home must meet everyone’s needs to make each assignment more successful and enjoyable for your family members.
Travel nurse housing for families works in different ways based on your situation. If you’re only traveling with your significant other, the one-bedroom apartment they were putting you in should still work. Larger accommodations are the norm if you add one or more kids to the mix. Before taking a travel nursing job, speak with your recruiter about your family’s housing needs, especially if you’re taking agency-provided housing. If you opt for the housing stipend and find your own accommodations, research the area you plan on working in to gain insight into local rental prices.
Travel Nursing and Relationships
Travel nursing can be hard on your relationship with your significant other and your entire family when you leave them behind. Leaving your spouse and/or your children for long stretches at a time while you’re on the road can negatively impact your bond with them. One significant bonus of bringing them along is the ability to spend more time together, which can have the opposite effect and help strengthen your bond with everyone.
However, if your family doesn’t want to travel and you don’t want to be too far away, choose travel assignments close to home. You still benefit from many of the perks of travel nursing, and assignments within a few hours of your home allow you to return home on your off days. If you choose this route, look for contracts with three 12-hour shifts to make the drive back and forth from your work location worthwhile.
You Can Travel Nurse with Family
Engaging in travel nursing with a family is a huge decision with many aspects to consider. Although it requires some prep work on your part, the payoff is being able to spend more time with your family while potentially earning a significantly higher income. When you travel nurse with family, it opens up so many possibilities to create memories that last a lifetime. Every family is unique, but traveling together is doable with advanced planning and sometimes a little patience and/or creativity.