Brothers Brent and Joey Butts have always loved adventure. And as twins, their bond means they have always stuck together — from pursuing the same interests as kids to becoming RNs as adults. Now they are travel nurses together. As part of their life on the road, they just completed a 2,500-mile travel nurse road trip from one assignment to the next, detouring to explore along the way. Their journey has taken them from Birmingham, Alabama, to Yakima, Washington, and beyond.
Becoming nurses and travelers together
Before their move to travel nursing, Brent and Joey went to nursing school together, and they worked three and a half years together in the same hospital (at times in the same department). Joey has worked in medsurge, ortho, and renal; Brent in medsurge, then OR, and orthopedic surgery.
The idea to try travel nursing started as a result of life changes. Brent had recently married. When his wife, Rosa, moved to Alabama, she struggled to find a job because of the pandemic. The twins and Rosa saw this as an opportunity. Brent threw it out there: “Why don’t we do travel nursing?”
A family affair
Their foray into travel nursing started with the twins taking an eight-week contract in Alabama that allowed them to stay local while they tested it out. They liked it, and then they all decided they wanted to go as far west as possible. Their RNnetwork recruiter quickly found assignments for them at the same hospital in Yakima. The cross-country trip to Washington became a way to see sites and explore new places at their own pace.
They all enjoy each other’s company while exploring, so it turned out to be a true family adventure. Rosa likes to organize the logistics — both for the road-trip across the country and now as they explore the Pacific Northwest for shorter road trips. She researches where to stay and what to see and do. Their goal is to explore something extraordinary when not working.
“Every time we have an off day, we try and do something,” Joey says. “Social media has definitely helped us to find different areas to check out.”
Places to see on a travel nurse road trip
From Alabama, they drove to Kansas City and picked up a friend for part of the trip. They stopped in Moab, Utah, and then Zion National Park, and then Bryce Canyon National Park. The twins had never seen Utah before, and they say the sites and changes in scenery were stunning.
“I would probably say Zion was the coolest,” Joey says. “Everything we got to see there was awesome. Just the landscape in general. Just driving through Utah was super pretty, and then Salt Lake City was surprisingly a very clean city, so I really liked it.”
They’ve invited other family members to visit them now that they have a set schedule and temporary home base in Yakima. “We flew our sister and our mother out. We got to see Seattle and the San Juan Islands and made a trip out of it. It was really fun,” Joey says.
Because of the pandemic, they haven’t visited Canada yet. But, they’re grateful the pandemic gave them an excuse to jump into the travel nurse lifestyle. It presented them with both the opportunity and desire for change.
Thinking about your own travel nurse road trip?
Both twins urge other nurses to give travel nursing a try. “It’s a once in a lifetime kind of thing. I think every nurse should do it at some point,” Joey says. “Do one assignment, and if you don’t like it, it’s only 13 weeks.”
Take a local travel nurse contract first before taking a long-distance road trip, Brent advises. Also, learn from other travel nurses. “Get in a Facebook group (like Travel Nursing Newbies) to see their experience. Then they could tell you what you should pack and what you should do to create a routine in a new city and to meet people.”
Another tip is to travel as a family or with a buddy. “Having my wife and my brother here has been a huge help,” Brent says. “I love being around people, and when you don’t know anybody yet, it can get lonely. Find ways to stay in a community. For us, we found a church our first week up here. We found three good parks to go to, picked up pickleball while we were up here.”
The twins both believe that travel nursing is a great way to see the country while enjoying their careers as a nurse. For them, travel nursing has been a perfect match for their love of trying new experiences, seeing new places, and experiencing other parts of the U.S.
“I want to travel and see things — and being able to do that as part of my job is a dream,” Joey says.