Working as a travel nurse can offer you a host of growth opportunities, both personal and professional. But you may be wondering, is travel nursing compatible with a family? Many nurses travel with their partner, spouse, children, and even pets. For those whose circumstances allow, travel nursing can afford families opportunities for growth and access to once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Never missing out on family time
One of the biggest benefits of taking your family on an assignment is staying in close proximity to one another. For surgical nurse Laretta Smith, traveling with her mother and four children means she gets to enjoy of the perks of traveling without sacrificing time with her family.
“I have such great family support,” she says. “I get to be there with them for the day-to-day. And because I have my family close, I don’t have to worry about needing to travel to them should something happen while I’m away.”
New experiences for your children
The opportunity to expose kids to diverse cultures and new experiences is the driving benefit for many families. NICU nurse Bryan Flake and his family have accepted assignments all over the country – each affording access to varied landscapes and unique experiences. From hiking the Grand Canyon and Red Rocks to dining at great local restaurants, the Flake family makes a concerted effort to take full advantage of their time in a new place.
“Traveling as a nurse has been a big work vacation. My kiddos have done and seen more in the past two years than most adults get in a lifetime,” Bryan says. “The culture and diversity they have been exposed to is priceless, and traveling has helped me grow as a nurse.”
Another major benefit of travel nursing is making strides toward your family financial goals. The financial advantages of travel nursing can help families save toward a home, advanced degrees and other future planning.
Challenges of traveling with your family
There can also be challenges to traveling with a family. One major consideration is acclimating your family to new areas. Finding a home, school and other important services can be a daunting task, especially where a family is concerned. RNnetwork resources can help ease the burdens associated with relocating, including the Housing Department and Employee Assistance Program Benefits. They can recommend services – such as tutoring or counseling – and help you take advantage of discounts on these services. Benefits also include day-one healthcare coverage, so you have the peace of mind that nobody will be without.
Smith takes special care to make plans – and backup plans! – in advance of every assignment. She researches schools, neighborhoods and services, including emergency care options. She also identifies nannies and babysitters to ensure her family’s child care needs are met.
Another potential challenge to travel nursing is that you can’t take everyone with you. For many, this may include extended family or aging relatives. While the desire to stay close is an individual and personal decision, many travel nurses have found their ability and the frequency with which they travel home is comparable at 3, 8 or even 15 hours. If this is an important consideration for you, work closely with your recruiter to identify assignments with ease of access to airports or other transportation needs.
If you are exploring the idea of travel nursing with a family, here are a few tips from seasoned pros:
- Define your priorities — Decide in advance what considerations are most important to you and your family. For some, a certain geographic region may be most appealing. For others, pay may be the most important factor. For others still, a short commute might be imperative. For Smith, she identified great schools and safe neighborhood as her highest priorities, so is willing to make longer commutes, where necessary, to fit her family’s needs.
- Involve the family — Before she accepts an assignment, Smith sits down and talks about the prospective opportunity with her kids. Together, they explore the area online, learn about interesting things to do and see, even look up pictures of the school they would attend. Get family input and buy-in to help generate excitement.
- Take advantage of furnished short-term rentals — Your staffing agency should be able to take care of all of your housing needs. However, if you choose to book your own accommodations, many services exist for securing short-term rentals, including furnished options. Services such as AirBNB and VRBO feature photos, guest reviews and ratings. The classified section of the local newspaper can be another great source for meeting a private owner. And many private owners, when learning nurses are there to help out their local hospital, are willing to make accommodations or introduce them to other private owners.
- Establish an open and honest dialogue with your recruiter — It’s important to remember you and your recruiter are working toward the same goal: your success. The more candid you are about your family’s priorities, the better they can help set you up for success. Smith works closely with her recruiter when considering a new assignment, and speaks openly about what will and won’t work for her family.
- Get involved — Getting involved in events, teams, organizations or other activities is a great way to build ties to your community. This may include hitting the field with your daughter’s little league team, volunteering with a local charity, or connecting with a local church congregation. Smith looks up events and activities online that pique her children’s interest to engage her family in their new community.
- Ask a Local – what is the best burger in town? Favorite place to catch a movie? Best playgrounds for kids? Ask a local! In order to maximize her family’s time in a new city, Smith seeks advice from coworkers on the local must-sees and must-dos.
Read here for more tips on traveling with your partner or spouse. Do you take family members on travel nursing assignments? We’d love to hear your ideas! Share your tips below.