Whether you’re considering travel nursing for the first time or are well on your travel nurse journey, two questions to ask are “What are the different travel nurse housing options?” and “Are my accommodations the best for me and my family?” Here are two travel nurses who decided to take their housing with them wherever they go, and they love living the travel nursing life in an RV.
Taking the leap
After working a contract position as a dialysis nurse for two years, Julie Stoddard decided to take the leap to travel nursing. “Four years ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to move around, and travel nursing was the best thing for us,” she says. “I used to work on ships, so I was used to moving around and staying in one place wasn’t sitting well with me.”
Home health nurse Audra Beldon has been a nurse for five years and has chosen to work travel assignments for the past year — and she loves it. Audra and her husband decided the time was right since their kids were grown, and the compensation and benefits were “awesome.”
The advantages of taking your home with you
Audra and her husband, Jim, travel to assignments pulling their fifth-wheel trailer. Audra likes that she feels “at home” in her trailer with her husband and her two elderly cats. “We get to bring our cats with us. I get to come home, I can cook dinner. We have all the amenities of a house, so it’s nice.”
Her husband agrees. “I kind of like carrying my stuff with me,” Jim says. “I don’t like going on a plane somewhere for a week without packing two or three bags. I have toys, I have motorcycles. I have to have something to occupy my time here in the trailer, so I brought hobbies. I can’t do that in travel housing.”
Julie also loves that she’s not going into a stranger’s house. Living in their camper, she and her family are more comfortable in their own space. “You don’t have to worry about messing anything up — the kids don’t have to worry about spilling anything, because you’re always home.”
She says another huge benefit is saving money and the ability to be adventurous. “We’re a part of a bunch of online blogs for travel nurses, and a lot of them tout the camper lifestyle and offer great tips and communities,” Julie says.
Getting to assignments
Since Audra is a home health nurse, it requires travel to and from patients’ houses rather than working at the same location for the full assignment. So in addition to the truck they use to haul their trailer, they also bring along their family car.
“The car gets way better gas mileage than the truck,” Jim says. “If you’re in home health you have to drive to the patient’s houses, so we plant our trailer in a certain place thinking that’s where the center of her patients will be.”
Traveling with young children
Julie and her husband bring their eight- and seven-year-old children with them on the road. This means educating them is a consideration. In the end, she decided to do what she calls “unschooling.”
“My daughter gave kindergarten a try, but my son actually learned more in preschool.”
For Julie, “unschooling” consisted of learning what the kids are really interested in and using that as their curriculum. Julie is sure to maintain state educational standards, but her kids quickly tested out of their state’s standards for their respective grades.
“We find what their interest is, and we give them material or they go find it and do their own research,” says Julie. “This summer we did a cross-country trip to find historical points for each state we were in, so they learned about each state. When the kids get to do something hands on, they remember it more easily. It’s exciting and more interesting than just reading something they found in a book. Those are the kind of experiences we’re trying to get our kids to have.”
Planning for travel nursing in an RV
Since travel nursing in an RV or camper requires more planning than simply booking housing, Audra and Julie recommend doing your research so you’re not left without the necessities — things you may not think of like a carbon monoxide detector, two-way radio, and even a light-up collar for your pet.
Because their camper heats up pretty quickly when preparing meals, Julie says they cook outside as much as possible. “We also have to go grocery shopping every other day because the camper doesn’t hold much food.”
Audra and Jim recall a slight hiccup they had in the early days of their fifth-wheel living. When they were directed to park their trailer in what they were told was a beautiful spot on the third-tier of a campground, their 20,000-weight load wouldn’t make it up the hill. “It was a harrowing experience getting back down the hill with just my truck brakes,” he says.
“We now choose where to be and when to be there,” Audra says.
Bringing family closer
When Audra’s husband Jim retired from being a police officer and became a stay-at home dad for their children, life on the road just made sense. She admits their 26-footer isn’t the largest of accommodations, but she says they feel more connected as a family.
Their camper has a queen bunk and a twin bunk with two recliners and a table settee area. “It’s tiny,” she says. “But as long as it’s nice out, we’re spending most of our time outside so you’re not feeling completely cramped. It’s just the seven-day stretch of rain when you start to feel it.”
Taking your housing with you also has other perks. Audra and Jim love anything outdoors, and are able to haul his motorcycle, their paddle board, and mountain bikes to enjoy the time they have together on their travels.
When looking into your next travel nurse assignment, a mobile home-away-from-home just might give you the freedom to choose your adventure and bring more of your creature comforts along for the ride.