The Quick Guide to Travel Nursing: How to Get Started

Author: Coast Medical Service

Posted: November 10, 2023


The Quick Guide to Travel Nursing: How to Get Started

Are you ready to embark on an exciting adventure that combines your passion for healthcare with your love for travel? If you’re a go-getter with a sense of wanderlust, a career in travel nursing might be the perfect fit for you!

Welcome to the Quick Guide to Travel Nursing: How to Get Started brought to you by Coast Medical Service. In this blog, we’ll explore the ins and outs of travel nursing, from the basics to the finer points of becoming a successful travel healthcare professional. So, put on your scrubs, pack your bags, and let’s dive into the world of travel nursing!

What Is Travel Nursing?

First things first, let’s clarify what travel nursing is all about. Travel nursing is a unique career path that combines the love of adventure with the desire to provide high-quality healthcare to patients across the country. It’s the perfect opportunity for those who want to experience new places, cultures, and healthcare settings while making a positive impact on the lives of patients in need. If you’re a nurse who wants to maximize your earnings, be in control of your schedule, and embrace a sense of adventure allowing you to visit new locations, becoming a travel nurse might be the choice for you!

The Perks of Being a Travel NurseBenefits of a travel nursing career

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of getting started, let’s talk about some of the amazing perks that come with the travel nursing lifestyle:

Explore New Places:

Travel nurses have the opportunity to work in various healthcare facilities and communities across the country, allowing them to explore new cities, cultures, and cuisines. When deciding where you’d like to work, think about your personal life and what you enjoy doing outside of work. Do you enjoy a bustling urban atmosphere with great nightlife? Consider a city like Los Angeles or New York City. Are you into hiking and the great outdoors? Consider travel nursing positions in Washington, Montana, or Colorado. Remember, when you’re fulfilled in your personal life, if makes your travel nurse experience much more enjoyable!

Competitive Pay:

Travel nurses often earn higher salaries than their permanent counterparts, thanks to the demand for their specialized skills. When it comes to your take-home pay, there are factors beyond hourly rate to take into consideration.

When accepting a travel nursing assignment, you may be eligible for per diem reimbursement for your lodging and meals. What’s great about per diem reimbursement is that this is considered tax-free. So when you’re evaluating two travel nursing positions, make sure you consider what’s the take home pay and not only the hourly rate.

The best part with per diem reimbursements is that even if you don’t spend the money, you still are entitled to it. So if you stay with friends or in an RV, you can still receive it and use the money how you see fit. Save it, pay down debt, or buy something fun. You’re in control!


You get to choose when and where you work, providing the flexibility to create a work-life balance that suits your lifestyle. If you only want to work a few days a week, or evenings so you have your days free, you have that choice when accepting your travel nursing assignment.

Expand your skills as a travel nurseExpand Your Skills:

Working in different healthcare settings and facing various medical challenges will enhance your professional skills and broaden your expertise. Often, you’ll find new methods to handle certain situations or other nurses with experience you had never encountered before. Use your travel nursing assignment as an opportunity to learn from other nurses.

Benefit Packages:

Many travel nursing agencies offer comprehensive benefit packages, including health insurance, retirement plans, and even discounts on fun events like concerts, movie tickets or theme parks. Make sure you inquire with your nurse recruiter about those offerings!


Housing is often the responsibility of the travel nurse. Some agencies will provide housing, however in those instances you will not be eligible for as much per diem reimbursement. Other agencies, like Coast, offer discount programs for travel nurses with housing partners like Travelers Haven and Blueground.

Meeting New People:

Travel nursing allows you to meet fellow healthcare professionals from different backgrounds and form lasting friendships. Think of this. If you accepted four 13-week assignments in one year vs working permanently at a hospital, you have the opportunity to meet four times as many people. Embrace this opportunity to not only expand your social circle, but also find potential mentors to help you grow professionally.

Getting Started on Your Travel Nursing Journey

Now that you’re excited about the prospects of travel nursing, let’s explore how to get started on this incredible adventure.

1. Educational RequirementsNurse studying

The first step to becoming a travel nurse is to ensure you have the right educational background. Most travel nursing positions require at least an associate degree in nursing (ADN), but many travel nursing assignments require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing program. Additionally, you’ll need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain your nursing license.

2. Gain Clinical Experience

Many travel nursing positions require candidates to have a minimum of one to two years of clinical experience in their area of specialization. This experience ensures that you’re equipped to handle the demands of different healthcare settings and patient populations. On some occasions, a healthcare facility may have less experience requirements, but this is not common. If this is something you’re concerned about, reach out to a recruiter to discuss your nursing experience and relevant positions.

3. Choose Your Specialty

Travel nursing covers a wide range of healthcare specialties, from critical care and emergency room nursing to labor and delivery and surgical nursing. It’s essential to decide which area best aligns with your interests and skills. Once you’ve chosen your specialty, you can start researching opportunities in that field.

4. Select a Reputable Travel Nursing Agency

A travel nursing agency will be your essential partner in this journey. They will help you find assignments, handle the logistics, and offer support throughout your travels. When selecting an agency, consider factors like reputation, the range of job opportunities, benefits, and the level of support they offer. Ultimately, your travel nursing agency should focus on helping you accomplish your goals, have excellent communication skills, and be a trusted advisor on your travel healthcare journey.

5. Licensing and Certification

Before you can embark on your first travel nursing assignment, you’ll need to ensure you have the appropriate licenses and certifications. Since travel nurses work in different states, you may need to obtain licenses in multiple states. Fortunately, many states participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which allows nurses to work in multiple states with a single license. Be sure to research the licensing requirements for your chosen destinations.

6. Building Your Resume

A well-crafted resume is your ticket to securing the best travel nursing assignments. Highlight your experience, skills, and any additional certifications or specializations that make you stand out. Tailor your resume for each job application to make it more appealing to potential employers. By partnering with an expert travel recruiter like those you find at Coast Medical Service, they will be able to provide you with tips to help make your resume stand out as well.

7. Interviews and Selection

In a highly competitive travel nursing market like you are facing today, be prepared to submit your application to many facilities. Travel nursing positions often close in less than one day, sometimes in a matter of hours. The more flexible you are with your assignment, the higher likelihood you’ll land an opportunity quickly. Additionally, by applying for multiple travel nursing positions, you may receive multiple offers and then have the opportunity to select what’s best for you.

Once you’ve applied for assignments through your chosen agency, while not common, you may be invited for interviews with potential employers. These interviews can be conducted over the phone, via video conferencing, or in person, depending on the employer’s preference.

8. Preparing for Your Assignment

Congratulations! You’ve been selected for your first travel nursing assignment. Now it’s time to prepare for the journey. Here’s a checklist of things to consider:

  • Housing:
    • Some travel nursing agencies provide housing options, but you can also choose a housing stipend to find your own accommodations. By doing so, you have control of your living situation and the opportunity to maximize your take-home pay. At Coast Medical Service, we have a variety of partners that offer discounts on housing options that are ideal for travel nurses on contract.
  • Packing:
    • Ensure you have the appropriate clothing, shoes, and personal items for the duration of your assignment. Don’t forget your stethoscope and any specialty-specific equipment you may need. Make sure to consider both what you need for work, but also for your down-time.
  • Licensing:
    • Double-check that all your licenses and certifications are up to date and meet the requirements of your assignment location. Many agencies will have a Compliance Specialist that will work with you to ensure everything is up to the facility requirements.
  • Insurance:
    • Make sure you have health and liability insurance in place, and consider traveler’s insurance for added peace of mind. When traveling with Coast Medical Service as a travel nurse, you’re eligible for health insurance from day 1 of your first assignment.
  • Transportation:
    • Determine how you’ll get to your assignment location. If you’re driving, make sure your vehicle is in good working order. If you are need of renting a vehicle, your travel agency may offer discounts on car rentals.
  • Finances:
    • Create a budget for your assignment, taking into account your expenses, including housing, food, and transportation.
  • Orientation:
    • Attend any orientation sessions provided by your agency or the healthcare facility to get acclimated to your new workplace. This is your opportunity to ask questions about your upcoming travel nursing assignment in advance to help ensure a smooth experience!

9. Making the Most of Your Experience

Once you’ve started your travel nursing assignment, make the most of the experience by:

  • Exploring: Take advantage of your new surroundings. Try local cuisine, visit landmarks, and immerse yourself in the local culture.
  • Networking: Build professional relationships with your colleagues. These connections can lead to new opportunities and provide valuable support.
  • Documenting Your Journey: Keep a journal, start a blog, or create a scrapbook to capture the memories and experiences from each location. If you’re active on social media, make sure to tag your agency in any of your fun adventures. 😊
  • Self-Care: Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Travel nursing can be intense, so it’s essential to find time for relaxation and self-care.


Becoming a travel nurse is an exhilarating journey that combines your passion for healthcare with your love for adventure. It’s a unique opportunity to explore new places, enhance your professional skills, and make a positive impact on patients’ lives. By following the steps outlined in this ultimate guide, you can confidently embark on your travel nursing career and experience the world in a way that few others can. Welcome to the world of travel nursing – your adventure awaits!

Are you ready to jump into the world of travel nursing and travel healthcare? Head over to Coast’s job search to find your ideal travel nursing opportunity. There, you’ll find thousands of high-paying travel nursing assignments located all over the country.

If you’re not quite sure where to begin, don’t stress! Visit our contact us page to submit your resume. After you submit, one of Coast Medical Service’s expert recruiters will reach out to you to discuss your goals and work to find a travel nursing position that will help you achieve what you’re looking for!

And if you know a travel nurse or allied healthcare professional, don’t forget to submit them via our referral page. Once they complete their first assignment, you could earn up to $1000 and they could earn an additional $500. It’s incredibly easy and only takes a minute, plus you can submit multiple referrals, so you can earn some serious money while helping your friends find their next travel healthcare assignments!


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