Can You Do Local Travel Nursing? | Pros & Cons
One of the most common myths about travel nursing is you have to travel across the country, or even work out of state. You may have heard your travel position has to be at least 50 miles away from your permanent residence in order to collect the tax-free stipends of a travel nurse.
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But this is one of the most common myths about travel nursing. The IRS does not have a specific ‘50-mile rule’ describing a certain distance you have to work away from home. This 50-mile or 100-mile radius is used by many hospital facilities as a general rule of thumb, to prevent their own full-time staff nurses from picking up the contracts themselves.
So, that being said, you can do local travel nursing without spending a small fortune on flight costs, additional housing, or traveling across state lines. For more specifics on the actual tax deductions you can claim while working local contracts, check out our travel nurse tax guide and consult with a tax professional who can give you the most accurate information for the laws in your specific state.
How To Be A Local Travel Nurse
I first learned about local contract nursing from a nurse I use to work with. She explained to me she actually worked at another hospital across the city, and she was under a short-term contract with our hospital for 3 months as a float nurse.
She ended up getting an extension as well, so she was actually there for a total of 6 months while working her other “local” healthcare job at the same time. She did this to save up for her wedding and was actually able to pay for the whole thing in cash.
She managed this by making sure her scheduled shifts didn’t conflict with each other and allowed for time to eat and sleep in between. She also rented a small apartment on the other side of the city to stay in while she worked her three, 12-hour shift days at that hospital.
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When those three days were through, she would drive a few hours home and work her normal job.
If you’re wondering whether local travel nursing could work for you, here are some of the pros and cons of taking a travel nursing assignment in your home state.
Pros of local travel nursing
- Limited travel costs
- You’ll likely receive perks including a housing stipend which means more money in your pocket per shift
- It’s possible to still keep your day job while making extra money
- No messing with tons of luggage or furniture
- Home is still accessible through a short drive
- You’ll be more familiar with the area, making it easier to find a nice hotel or apartment
- You’ll never have to miss a family function (but you’ll still have a good excuse if you don’t want to go)
- Feelings of homesickness can be quickly remedied
- You’ll still have the security of friends and family being close to you
Cons of local travel nursing
- You don’t get to travel far to see other parts of the country, like California, Alaska, or New York.
- Drastically narrows your opportunity of getting a travel contract
- You lose the ability to work with different patient populations
- You’re basically working a job but with a longer commute and temporarily living in two locations
- You still need to set up housing
- You lose the true experience of life as a travel nurse
A lot of first-time travelers would prefer to try something close to home, in order to “test the waters” and see if they actually enjoy it. When you do, you’ll find out what is important for you, and decide why you want to be a travel nurse. Is it for the experience of being out on your own, forced to make new friends and keep yourself entertained? Or is it more for the money, education, and career advancement?
Whatever your nursing career goals, travel nursing, whether local or across the country, can help you reach them.