How travel nursing in the U.S. has changed our lives
Updated: May 24, 2022
“Travel nursing in general has opened our eyes and shown us that even in your own country, you can have great travel experiences.”
Kristen and Sam's story
We are travel nurses based in the United States. Travel nurses are experienced nurses that travel to different cities and sometimes to other countries based on the need of hospitals. We work for an extended amount of time to fulfill a contract that the hospital sets. Usually in the United States, you work for a hospital for 13 weeks and can choose to extend for longer if you and the hospital are a good fit.
We decided to become travel nurses in order to continue doing what we love by taking care of others as well as fulfilling our love for travel. We have worked in Tallahassee (FL), Houston (TX) Denver (CO) and Panama City Beach (FL) in the U.S. Denver was a meaningful and challenging experience for us since we worked there during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve found that working in short-term roles at hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities around the U.S. has not only helped fill gaps in areas where there are nursing shortages, but also opened our eyes to the possibilities of travel through our profession.
What working as travel nurses has taught us
Based on our experience in working while traveling, we believe people can do anything that they set their mind to! Travel nursing seemed very difficult at the start due to the fact that you are constantly on the move, away from family, and are always faced with change. However, we wanted to shape our own lives the way that we wanted them to be. We didn't want our whole lives to revolve around work. Rather, we wanted to make a difference in the world on our own terms. Trusting in ourselves no matter what others thought of our decisions motivated us to work even harder and prove that it was the right thing for us.
Travel nursing in general has opened our eyes and shown us that even in your own country, you can have great travel experiences. Even different regions of a country can have very different cultures and styles of living. People can have very different viewpoints from state to state and even county to county. We have noticed that we have become more appreciative of the differences that everyone has from each other. We believe this pandemic has helped teach travelers that you do not always need to travel abroad to have a great experience outside of your hometown.
Our tough moments working as travel nurses
We started working as travel nurses before the pandemic hit, but it soon became a very different experience for us when the pandemic started. We had just started a new nursing assignment in Denver Colorado when the first wave of COVID-19 came. This was around the time where businesses started closing down and lockdowns were happening. It almost felt like time was at a stand still, and a lot of pressure was all of a sudden put upon the essential workers.
We were now on the front lines of an illness that the human race knew nothing about. We were miles away from family, working in a new environment, and in a brand new city that was shut down. We were surrounded by the unknown in every situation of our lives. Work started becoming more stressful because our hospital was running out of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, gowns etc). We were worried about contaminating ourselves and others, as well as providing the best care for our patients. We continued working throughout the next couple of months while still on lockdown. It was a very hard experience for us to go through.
During this tough time, we traveled locally to relax. On our days off, we would destress by exploring the outdoors of our new location by hiking in the mountains. We were able to take in all of the beauty that Colorado had to offer while still keeping physically distanced from others. During lockdown in the U.S., we were allowed to exercise outside as long as we were away from others. We believe that the outdoor experiences aspect of this travel nursing assignment kept us going through this difficult situation.
When we realized travel nursing was a great decision
When the lockdowns first started happening and the whole world was on edge, we almost got to the point of quitting our contracts and moving back home to Texas. Our families were begging us to come home for our safety. However, in our minds that would have been the easy way out. We had walked into something that we didn't sign up for. After a few long conversations, we decided to stick out our contracts and continue working because it was our duty as nurses to help others. Halfway through our 13 weeks of working, we realized that this experience has changed us for the better and made us so much stronger in our careers.
Our advice for someone else who wants to become a travel nurse
If anyone reading this wants to become a travel nurse, we recommend that you become comfortable with working as a nurse in your hometown before you decide to travel. As a travel nurse, you are thrown into difficult situations very fast. You are in a new city, away from family and friends, in a new hospital, and only get a very small amount of training before working solo. Once you become comfortable with your skills as a nurse, travel nursing is an awesome way to travel and see the world while still having your career as a nurse!
To learn more about travel nursing, check out our video breaking down everything you need to know:
Follow Kristen & Sam
You can also follow Kristen & Sam’s journey as travel nurses on their social media channels. Just click the links below or search @kristen_and_sam
Are you interested in becoming a travel nurse yourself? Comment below!
People all around the world have had life-changing travel experiences. Whether it's studying abroad, traveling for leisure, working abroad, or living abroad! Check out more of our Traveler Stories.