TRAVEL NURSING TIPS
As with anything in life, there is always room for improvement and travel nursing is no different. We want to share some of our golden tips we’ve learned through the years from trial and error and from other travelers. This includes everything from how to make more money as a travel nurse to how to make the most out of your assignments. As we learn more tips, we’ll be sure to add them to the list.
Choosing a travel nursing company
There are many travel nursing companies out there – well over 200. Some of them are very localized and only staff hospitals in a small area while others are nationwide. The important thing to remember is that you are not obligated to stay with one company. Since you’ll be signing a new contract with each new assignment, there really aren’t too many reasons to limit yourself to one company. While most agencies will typically have access to the same pool of jobs, some do have exclusive contracts with facilities.
Our travel nursing company review page has a list of some of the more popular agencies with reviews from other travelers. If you are currently traveling, we would be grateful if you could take a minute to rate the companies you have worked with to help other travelers. We recommend applying with two of the larger companies (American Mobile, Cross Country, Medical Solutions, Aya Healthcare, etc.) as well as one or two smaller companies. The larger companies will give you access to more jobs while the smaller companies will have better relationships with local markets. They can be especially helpful if you want to travel to a specific area and can find a company based in that area.
Researching the hospital
The hardest part about job searching is deciding which hospital will be a good fit for you. When we first started traveling, we found ourselves looking at several websites to find information about the hospital and surrounding area. No one wants to be stuck in a job they hate or an area that has nothing exciting to offer or is unsafe. That’s why we created a database of hospitals built around travel nurses at Travel Nursing Exchange.
You’ll find a lot of great information all in one place: reviews, pictures of the surrounding area, a google map of the hospital, number of beds, crime rate, local weather. We included as much information as we could and continue to add more. With over 7,000 hospitals in our database, odds are we have the hospital you’re looking for.
Packing for your assignment
When we started traveling, we owned a little Ford Escape and loaded all of our belongings inside and expanded with cargo bags on the roof and a cargo rack on the back. It worked out well for awhile until we had our son Carter, after which an upgrade was inevitable. If you are traveling alone or even with just one other person, cargo bag and racks could be a great option. You can read more about our original setup here.
After we had Carter, we quickly realized cargo bags just weren’t going to cut it anymore. We have since upgraded to a larger SUV, a Chevy Traverse, and even bought a 6 x 10 enclosed trailer with a side door for easy access and fold-down ramp door in the back. It’s not ideal but when you have things like a crib, highchair, toys, etc., it’s not really an option. If you have one or more children, I would highly recommend a trailer. Your gas mileage will suffer but it makes staying in a hotel on long trips so much easier. Everything is locked up and you can keep your luggage and a cooler near the side door for easy access.
Another great tip for packing smarter are space saver bags. Even if you have plenty of room and don’t need the extra space, they’re a great way to store loose clothing and blankets.
Finding fun activities
Your best resource for finding things to do while on assignment will be your new coworkers. Not only do locals know the best places, but it’s also a great way to break the ice. You’ll likely find them to be more than willing to brag about the place they call home. Here are some other great resources we use at every location we travel to:
- Yelp – the smartphone app can be a lifesaver when looking for parks, places to eat, shopping and just about anything else you can think of. Yelp has a huge following so you shouldn’t have a problem finding reviews on just about anything you’re looking for.
- TripAdvisor – geared more toward travelers, TripAdvisor won’t have much info on hidden gems but is great for popular attractions and touristy spots.
- RoadTrippers – this is an amazingly useful website/app for finding attractions along route to your next assignment. Choose a start and end point and how far from the highway you’re willing to detour and you’ll be given a map view of attractions along the way. Very cool.
- Field Trip – this app is a great way to discover attractions with little effort. Tell it what sort of attractions you’re interested in, and it will display an alert on your phone when you’re near an attraction that matches your interests. It’s a bit of a battery hog but useful if you didn’t have time to plan your day and are just out wandering around.
- Wikitude – you might need to be a bit nerdy for this one. Wikitude is an augmented reality app. Point your smartphone in any direction and it will display attractions in relation to where your camera is pointing. It would be fun and useful in an attraction-dense area like Times Square.
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