It pays to start preparing ahead of time if you plan to take travel nursing jobs, whether it’s putting your finances in order, downsizing to make travel easier, or updating your resume and work history. Once you’re ready to take a job, it’s important to keep upcoming expenses in mind so you can budget early and prepare for things you might not expect.
Here are a few start-up costs of travel nursing you may not have considered:
Each time you apply for a new nursing license, you’ll need to pay for fingerprinting in addition to your application/licensing fee. This differs by state but generally costs at least $40. If you’re unsure whether you’d like to work in a specific state, weigh the cost of fingerprinting and applying; obtaining licensing in even three new states can quickly add up.
Unfortunately, many facilities still require hard copies of your work history, driver’s license, nursing license(s), birth certificate and other certifications and documents — which means you’ll be mailing a lot of envelopes, and that can get expensive. Where possible, see if the facility will accept electronic copies or if your travel agency can keep information on file so you don’t have to mail things every time.
As a traveler, you’ll be required to have a flu shot each year and receive immunizations for mumps, measles and pertussis if you haven’t already. Some facilities may require other shots as well, so be prepared to pay for at least a few vaccines; your insurance may not cover the cost.
If you already have a reliable car, you’re good to go. However, some travelers have to make costly repairs to get their vehicles road-ready; others buy a new car altogether. Be sure to set aside money in your budget for repairs or a replacement if you know your car won’t last on a road trip. New tires are another expense you might not anticipate but a necessity if you’ll be putting a lot of miles on your car.
Driving across the country to your travel nursing assignment? Chances are good that you’ll encounter a few toll roads along the way and end up paying more than you expected to get to your destination. While some toll roads can’t be avoided, travel apps like Waze can help you plan routes that bypass tolls where possible and avoid traffic and construction as well. Be sure to keep track of what you pay for tolls, as you may be able to deduct the cost, along with your mileage, when tax time comes.
Appliances, tools and bedding
Fortunately, you won’t be lugging a mattress to your next job, as housing is furnished with basic furniture like a bed, couch, table and dresser. However, you’ll need to buy or bring along your own vacuum, pots and pans, utensils, toaster, sheets and towels, cleaning supplies and even an ironing board, among other things. If you don’t already have a portable tool box, you’ll want to buy one and bring it along in case you have car problems or need to fix other things while you’re on assignment.
Unless you want to pack your desktop computer in your car, you’ll need to invest in a laptop or tablet you can take along. TVs and Blu-ray players are not provided in your housing, so you may need to buy small ones you can pack easily or subscribe to a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu to watch your favorite shows from your laptop or phone.
Though there are a few costs you may not have anticipated, investing in your travel nursing career will pay off in the long run and ensure that you’re as comfortable and happy as possible wherever you take a job. Check out 10 Things to do Before Taking Your First Travel Nursing Assignment for more tips on preparing now.