Love on the Road: Travel Nursing as a Duo
I am a travel nurse’s spouse. I love being a travel nurse’s spouse! It seems like there are more and more couples/families taking on this adventure together, and for good reason – it is a fun and exciting opportunity!
That being said, there are always two sides to every coin. Here is a glimpse into our experience over the past five years of travel nursing.
Advantages of Traveling as a Duo
When we first discussed travel nursing back when my husband Skyler was still in nursing school, we always knew it was something we would do as a team. We didn’t know exactly what that would look like for me at the time, but we knew we wanted to live this adventure together.
As our travel dream finally came to fruition, it became clear pretty early on that it wasn’t going to be realistic for me to get a job outside of the home. Luckily, I have a home-based business which allowed me to work from anywhere which was great for us so I didn’t have to get temporary jobs that would have tied us down on his days off. We were traveling for the adventure as much as for his career! Here are a few of the many perks of traveling as a couple:
- Somebody to share adventures with – We got to see and experience new things TOGETHER. We got to share that experience with someone. Somebody was there when it was fun and when it was scary.
- Travel nursing as a team has strengthened our marriage considerably – We were on our own away from family and friends. It caused us to rely and depend on each other fully. We got to spend fun days off together; we went grocery shopping together; we took long road trips together; we explored new cities together; etc., etc., etc. It has really caused us to focus more on what is important to us and our marriage. We were no longer in the typical “rat race” – we were living our dream, our way.
- Being able to afford for me to “stay home” – My staying home was a big change for us as I have worked full time since I was in college. It has had its advantages and disadvantages, but the positives have far outweighed the negatives. Some of the advantages:
- I could handle most of the chores (cleaning, paying bills, cooking, laundry, etc.) while Skyler was at work, so days off were true days off.
- I had more time to plan and research what we wanted to do in each new area so that we were ready to have fun and explore during his time off.
- I was able to take a lot of the stress off of his shoulders by keeping his licensing and paperwork requirements for traveling organized. I was also able to work with his recruiters when we were looking for new assignments, fielding emails and calls. He of course had to speak with them once it came time to interview but I usually narrowed it down for him as well as handled the contract negotiations.
- I have become a pro at researching housing and other need-to-know things about new cities before we move.
- Staying at home has allowed me to focus on things that are more important to me. I was in a job that I wasn’t happy with before we started traveling so I have been able to focus more on my blogging, my home-based business, and most recently being a mom full time.
Challenges of Traveling as a Duo
I have to admit, there weren’t many challenges for us in terms of traveling together. It was our dream so we made it work and loved it. For us there were really only a few challenges we faced that specifically pertained to traveling together:
- Only having one car – We decided after our second assignment to sell our second car as it was too cumbersome to try to move two cars every few weeks. Living with only one car has definitely been something new to get used to. We have always each had our own vehicles since we were sixteen so it has taken some adjusting to. If I needed the car on a day he was working I either had to take him to and from work or he had to arrange to take a cab or get a ride. We have however, found housing within walking distance from the hospital which made things easier. Only having one car wasn’t too big of a deal but it has definitely left me feeling restless a time or two when I was stuck at the house three days a week.
- Not being able to find work as the spouse of the traveler – Some people are fortunate and do find work, but I haven’t had that kind of luck. I am honest upfront about my situation and most employers (understandably) don’t want to train somebody for a mere three months. Plus the whole no car thing was an issue and most important to us is we didn’t want me to be working on the days he had off.
- It could be lonely on the days my husband was at work – I struggled with being lonely on the days Skyler was at work, especially before we had our child. Some contracts had him working 48+ hours a week which was a lot of time alone. We made the decision together to have him work longer hours in order to earn extra money, especially since we went from two incomes to one, but regardless it could be lonesome. It was at times very hard for me to meet new people when we traveled. I was often at home by myself, without a car, and didn’t know anybody in our new city while he is gone for 13 hours at work. He has made some nurse friends that we hung out with on his days off, but when he was at work I was typically by myself.
- Going down to one income was a lot of pressure – We have always been a two income family so going from two to one added some extra pressure on my husband’s shoulders. It was hard not to worry about the what-if’s. For instance, if he were to get injured somehow and not be able to work for a while, what would we do? Also adding to the pressure – he is only one person and could only work so many hours to make the income we needed/wanted. We budgeted and planned carefully to help relieve this extra stress, but all the planning in the world doesn’t fully alleviate the fear of the “what-ifs”.
That is about all I can think of on the negative side. There are of course some challenges that will arise as you go, but the benefits of traveling together far outweigh any challenges. I know everybody’s situation is different, but try to find a way to make it work and make the best of it! It is a fun adventure that we will always look back on with the best memories!
By Kelli Leach
Kelli Leach and her husband Skyler have been traveling since July 2010. Skyler is a CVICU RN and Kelli is a writer. They are from Missouri and had a baby boy in November 2013 so they are now a traveling family of 3! Connect with Kelli on Facebook.