5 Facts You Should Know About Doing Travel Nursing With a Family at Home
Travel nursing is more popular than ever, but for nurses with families that include young children, travel nursing might seem off the table. But that’s not necessarily true, says Jeremy Commisso, Founder and CEO of Nurse First Travel Agency. “Travel nursing puts you in a unique position to prioritize what you want professionally and personally,” he says. “The decision of how, when, and where they work is left solely in the hands of the travel nurse, allowing families to play an active role in their life.”
Curious how travel nursing works on a practical level if you have family responsibilities or you want to travel with your children? TravelNursing.org is breaking down some misconceptions about travel nursing with a family and how real travel nurses are making it work with their own families.
1. Travel nursing doesn’t have to mean traveling far
Ironically, one of the concepts that can hold many potential travel nurses back is the idea that travel nursing means going far away. In reality, travel nurse contracts can be found close to home all across the country.
Kristina “Kit” Harbeson, 41, a mother of three children from Indiana, initially got into travel nursing as a result of the pandemic. In fact, she was one of the original travel nurses who signed up to travel to New York City at the start of the pandemic. “I’m not particularly spiritual, but I truly felt called to go,” she relates.
But after her time spent in New York, Harbeson switched to doing local travel nursing contracts. For instance, she’s currently on a contract that lets her be home every single day, and her past contracts have allowed her a block schedule to be able to come home for several days in a week. She also builds in 2-3 weeks completely off between assignments so she can dedicate that time solely to family life and their expanding homestead on three acres.
“There is this idea that travelers must go across the country to find decent contracts, be away from their families and friends for three months or longer, and are constantly too busy on these assignments,” Commisso notes.
He points out that as Harbeson has done, there are many strategies to making travel nursing work for someone with a family, such as choosing a local facility, working seasonally when the kids are in school, or blocking your schedule so you work 3 shifts in a row. “There are so many ways to accommodate the life you want to live,” he says.
2. The majority of travel nurses have families
Contrary to what you might think, a lot of travel nurses actually do have families. According to Commisso, at least half of their travelers have families, and the number might actually be approaching closer to two-thirds of their travelers. Equally as important? Travelers who are planning to have families soon—contracts can give them a much-needed way to build up their nest egg before expanding their family and then provide them with a way to have their own flexible parental leave in a way that’s best for them.
“The great thing about travel nursing is how flexible it is,” says Commisso. “Travel nurses have complete control over their schedules and can choose when they work and for how long. If you need to take a break to focus on your family or soon-to-be family, then that’s totally fine. In the travel nursing industry, you make it work for you, not the other way around.”
3. Travel nursing might actually give you more time with your family
Although it might seem counterintuitive, travel nursing might actually give you more time with your family, not the other way around. For instance, Harbeson and her husband were surprised to find out that travel nursing has actually given her an extra 6 weeks of family time per year.
“My son recently enlisted, and I was able to be off for nearly a full month so I could go to his graduation at Fort Benning, and then return 3 weeks later to see his jumps and graduation in Airborne school,” she says. “Being in charge of my own availability has put me in a position to make my family a priority more than I ever could as a staff nurse. My work-life balance has improved. And I’ve had some pretty neat experiences on top of it.”
4. Financial stability can benefit the entire family
While travel nursing contracts may not be quite as high as they were during the height of the pandemic, travel nursing can still be lucrative—and the extra dollars in your family’s bank account can make a difference in many different ways. For instance, Harbeson says that her contracts have actually improved communication between her and her husband and helped them achieve a lot of practical goals.
“We built a barn and bought a tractor. We have 3 vehicles, all paid off. We are well ahead on our mortgage. We have done some remodeling to our house, and there is money in savings,” she notes.
5. You can bring your whole family with you
Depending on the agency and assignment you choose, you can actually pack up and bring your entire family with you when you take on a travel nurse position.
”Bringing your family along on your travel assignments can be an amazing opportunity for everyone,” says Commisso.
“ Travel nursing is a great opportunity to explore the country and can allow your family to be a part of the adventure.” He points out that travel nursing could even let you bring them with you during times the kids are off of school, allowing you to fund trips of a lifetime. And, of course, be sure to check with your agency and recruiter to find appropriate housing and get help with any special requests or accommodations your family may need.
The bottom line is that if you’ve considered travel nursing but have held back out of fear that it can’t be done with a family, it is entirely possible to make travel nursing work for both you and your family. Find a recruiter you feel comfortable with, explain what you are looking for and what your situation is, and don’t be afraid to try it out—the beauty of travel nursing is that you can have the flexibility to try new things and decide what works best for your family.
“Flexibility is the biggest benefit travel nursing can offer nurses,” Commisso sums up. “You can choose what your assignment looks like to ensure you’re making enough space for your family and still getting that quality time. The freedom to choose when you work allows you to be there for special moments and continue to make memories with those closest around you.”