Tips for Travel Nurses with a Family
One of the best things about being a travel nurse is being able to choose your adventure. Many nurses with families feel that being a travel nurse is way out of the question because it seems so impossible to raise a family while taking assignments. After reading a recent NPR article about a nurse taking advantage of the high pay rates but struggling as she’s away from family, got us thinking; what are the tips for travel nurses with a family? Nursing has allowed nurses two options: you can travel, or we could settle down. But with the current talent and skill shortage hitting our nation, maybe it is time to consider other options. Here are SkillGigs top tips for you if you, your partner and family want to explore:
Many people might think that when packing for your next assignment might be as easy as packing up a suburban and heading out. However, you are packing for a family now, and you’re probably going to rent a U Haul.
Tips for travel nurses: Try to stick only with essentials like clothes, a stroller, a high chair, a few toys, and books, etc. This makes packing a lot easier, and it also reduces trailer expenses.
Reminder: Traveling with a trailer can be slow and a bit more complicated than traveling in your car.
Longer Road Trips
Unfortunately, taking a young child on a road trip can lead to longer travel days and more inconvenient bathroom breaks. It also adds to expenses that result from food, gas, and longer hotel stays. At the same time, the trip will become more enjoyable for you since you can do a lot more sightseeing.
Some tips: Try to plan around your child’s sleep schedule and drive through the night. Take turns driving and tending to your child in the backseat.
Reminder: Your “fill up the gas” time will most likely turn into snack time and bathroom breaks, however during this time you can play with your child to tire them out. More play time leads to longer naps in the car.
Picking a Location
When looking at locations for assignments, your biggest worry is safety; but it was also critical to choose a location favorable for families. For instance, New York might not be ideal for some families because you would have to live in a 400 square apartment while having to take public transportation. There are still families that live there, so it is doable but other families would rather take an assignment elsewhere. Try to avoid locations too far like Hawaii and Alaska because it would be a long trip for family members if wanted to visit. But do consider amenities. Are you considering travel with your family because you want to explore new sites? Have you never lived amongst mountains? Does family-friendly hiking trails sound like something fun? The internet (and even Pinterest) provides tons of great resources when wanting to research a location.
Most companies suggest a one-bedroom apartment, but for a family, two bedrooms are imperative. However, to get another bedroom, the cost to pay several hundreds of dollars each month additional may not be favorable. The other option is to explore on your own and find a house. This way you can explore child-friendly neighborhood and other community amenities. Since the pandemic, more housing developments have listed homes on AirBnB and VRBO for great extended-stay rates.
Tips for travel nurses: If you’re stuck between housing choices, make a pros and cons list for each option to help you decide. Also, most young families want carpet floors for their children, so that may be something you look for in a house option.
A big downside to traveling with your family is the time away from relativities. Of course, you want your children to grow up close to family, but sometimes that does not work out well. However, even if you live far away, you can take assignments near family members and spend time with them during visits. It also can also become a low-cost vacation for visiting family members. For others, consider taking an assignment near a family member that you typically would not see that often. This might actually be a nice way to make familial connections that have not been as strong.
Babysitters, Doctors, etc.
Trying to find caregivers while on the road was always a hassle. Most of the time you don’t have the luxury of having a relative babysit due to traveling, so finding a babysitter you can trust can be a little hard because you are new to the area. However, it didn’t stop after finding a babysitter. You have to also look for pediatricians. You’ll start to have doctors throughout different cities and when you drive through your hometown, try to go to appointments as much as possible.
Additional tip: This is a new obstacle you will face, so it is essential to plan out your system for this before deciding to travel with your family. Also speak to your primary before you leave about Telehealth services. Telehealth and its service offerings have extended greatly as of late.
All kids need to go to school, but when traveling, you have a couple of different options. If your child is not of the age to go yet, consider: 1) travel only during the summer with family, or 2) homeschool your kids. Homeschooling is a commitment and we don’t suggest that lightly. However, if your child is attending a traditional school setting and you still wish to travel, then you should consider taking a three-month leave to take a travel assignment in the summer.
If you are not quite settled in a community yet, play dates are a bit limited but try to manage to find other ways to have fun.
- Visit the community pool, playground, and walk on trails.
- Find groups of parents and their kids that have play dates weekly, so you join them when we can.
Tips for travel nurses: You can use websites to help you find playdate groups or activities you can attend in your area.
- Explore some new museums and parks.
Tips for travel nurses: If you’re new to the city, you can search for things to do with your child. (For example, many libraries have programs for kids of all ages.)
- Plan to sign up your kids for swimming lessons when they get a little older.
Tips: If your child is older you may want to consider putting them in lessons for swimming, soccer, baseball, taekwondo, etc.
Travel nursing with a family has its challenges, but as a result, your family can get very close. You can make lots of memories during your journey.