As a nurse, you love the idea of helping people in their most vulnerable medical moments. But you’re ready for a change. A big change. And for this reason, you’ve got your eye on some travel nursing opportunities.
But, what is the average travel nursing assignment’s distance from home?
As an aspiring first-time travel nurse who is interested in testing the waters, you may be leaning toward travel assignments that are closer to home. However, both nearby and distant travel nursing jobs have pros and cons, so it’s wise to consider both options’ unique benefits and drawbacks before you sign the dotted line for any assignment.
Here’s a rundown on the various travel nursing pros and cons for those who decide to venture far away from home as well as those who wish to stay closer to their primary residences.
When it comes to travel nursing jobs’ distance from home, many hospitals enforce the radius rule, where travel nurses must live a certain distance from their facilities, oftentimes 50 miles. However, the number may range from 40 miles to 200 miles depending on the hospital.
Given the above, it’s safe to say that any aspiring travel nurse should expect to pack his or her bags for future work assignments. Even if you work only a handful of hours from home, you will still have to secure a temporary home to be eligible for housing stipends, incidental payments, and tax-free meals.
However, whether you choose a closer assignment or a farther-away travel assignment ultimately depends on your personal preferences and needs.
One of the main benefits of traveling far from home is that you’ll have the opportunity to work in exciting locations and at prestigious hospitals throughout the United States. However, a drawback of working hundreds of miles from home is that you will essentially have to uproot your life. In addition to learning how to make your way around an unfamiliar city, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with a new hospital.
This is precisely why radius rules are usually in place: They discourage hospitals’ nursing staff from vacating their full-time roles and taking on potentially higher-paying travel assignments in their hometowns. Hospital leaders generally view this as being unfair to individuals who are truly making sacrifices to work as travel nurses. They also view it as unfair to local nursing staff who are not being compensated at the same rate that travel nurses in their area are.
As you explore the pros and cons of travel nursing jobs both far away and close by, consider what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has to say about how far away you have to live to receive tax-free travel nursing reimbursements.
According to the IRS, if you want to avoid paying taxes on your travel nursing reimbursements, you must work in an area that is far enough from home—although the IRS doesn’t define a particular travel nursing distance from home that meets this standard. In addition, you must incur lodging costs to receive tax-free accommodation reimbursements. So, if you drive more than 50 miles away for an assignment but then decide to drive back home and therefore don’t incur lodging expenses, you cannot receive tax-free reimbursements for lodging.
When it comes to other pros and cons of travel nursing, consider that staying closer to home may limit your job opportunities. For instance, the demand for the nursing specialty you have chosen may be weaker closer to your hometown. As a result, you might not find an open travel nursing position near you, or it might take a while for one to open up near you. In addition, when you eventually secure a position, your schedule options may be limited compared with in a facility with greater needs.
To enjoy the greatest number of travel nursing job opportunities, you should keep your location options open. By traveling a further distance from home, you open up more opportunities for yourself in your desired specialty. You simply have to be willing to sacrifice the convenience of being closer to home.
Let’s take a look at more of the pros and cons of travel nursing when you decide to stick closer to home versus working farther away.
For one, your travel costs will be more limited. In addition, when you take on travel assignments closer to home, you also don’t have to worry about packing a large amount of luggage.
Also, you can still maintain your day nursing job while taking on close-by travel assignments on the side, which means you can drastically boost your earnings. That’s because just a brief drive is all you need to get back home for your main job. On top of this, because you are close to home, you won’t have as many opportunities to feel homesick. Plus, if you ever want an excuse to get out of a weekend family function, a weekend travel assignment can be the perfect one!
A major drawback of traveling close to home is that you won’t have the opportunity to see other parts of the country in a cost-effective way. Working with different patient groups can help you build your resume and skills as a nurse.
Another con of working as a travel nurse near your home is that you still need to establish housing in your travel job area. As a result, you essentially have to live in two different locations temporarily. This can be inconvenient, and it also robs you of the true, raw experience of living in a distant area as a travel nurse.
If you’re considering travel nursing a far distance from home, this offers its own advantages and disadvantages, too. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of travel nursing far away from home.
When you travel to distant states and cities, you may get to enjoy climate and cultural change that you otherwise wouldn’t get to experience. Long-distance traveling for a temporary nursing role can expose you to open deserts, beach towns, and mountain ranges you don’t have at home. You can also satiate your wanderlust and thirst for adventure via travel nursing.
A long-distance nursing opportunity may bring excitement to your current routine. By taking on assignments in other locations, you can diversify your nursing experiences and prevent the burnout and boredom that can come even with a quick-paced field like nursing.
The farther away you travel, the less likely you are to see your pets, friends, and family. Likewise, the harder it will be for you to start your own family if you desire to do this in the near future. Simply put, accepting travel nursing assignments far from home may not be ideal for anyone who is interested in settling down.
Other noteworthy travel nursing pros and cons have to do with your nursing specialty and increased pay opportunities.
Travel nurses enjoy the benefit of having a nearly unlimited number of nursing specialties to choose from. You may choose certain specialties if they pay the most. Alternatively, you can choose specialties that are particularly rare, which will provide you with a unique set of nursing skills for future competitive nursing roles. Specialties may range from psychiatric travel nursing to pediatric travel nursing.
Another benefit of travel nursing is that even though many industries frown upon job hopping, that’s not the case for nursing. The opposite, in fact, is actually true: Nursing favors travel nurses who have gained experience at multiple hospitals.
However, as a travel nurse, you’ll lose the financial benefit that comes with sticking with an employer for an extended period of time and getting steady pay raises from that employer. Fortunately, the more experience you gain in travel nursing, the more qualified you will be to take on higher-paying nursing assignments in the years ahead.
If you’re interested in taking on travel nursing amid its pros and cons, we at Coast Medical Service are ready to help. We stand out in that we don’t treat our clients like numbers. Instead, we view you as nurses with unique and valuable needs. For this reason, we go to great lengths to secure assignments for you that satisfy your personal requirements.
When you work with us, you’ll always select your own assignments as we don’t enforce strict nursing schedules. In addition, we have thousands of travel nursing positions available for you, with new travel assignments updated to our site frequently.
Get in touch with us to learn more about our many travel nursing opportunities, as well as various travel nursing opportunities’ pros and cons. With a 24/7 customer service team, we’re excited to answer any questions you have and help match you with a facility.