A staff nurse contemplating making the switch to travel nursing.

5 Tips for Permanent Staff Looking to Transition into Travel Nursing

Jan 10, 2023

Travel nursing can lead to many opportunities as a healthcare professional while providing a fulfilling sense of adventure. It can be a little daunting for those looking to switch to traveling from permanent placement. Though we understand, we’d like to encourage everyone to at least dip their toes, so if you’re looking to take the plunge, let us set your mind at ease by providing five tips for making the transition into travel nursing.  

General advice: what to consider before transitioning 

  • A standard contract in healthcare staffing is anywhere from four to thirteen weeks, although there are opportunities to extend. Extensions also vary, depending on what the facility needs. However, you can apply for multiple extensions if you like. Thirteen weeks is both a short and long time depending on the assignment. Make sure you’re emotionally and mentally prepared for the adaptive lifestyle that the profession requires.  


  • Do you want to travel to other states or stay closer to home? Before signing your first travel nurse contract, determine which locations fit your lifestyle and preferences. That way, you can narrow down the list of options and align them with your goals as a traveler.  


  • Compile all your documentation digitally for easier submission. Certifications, licenses, and other documents can easily delay the compliance process, so it’s best to have them in an easy-to-access one-stop file.  

Tip 1: Connect with the healthcare traveler community 

Luckily, the path of a traveler is well paved, so if you’re thinking about making the switch, connect with others already out in the field. Join a few Facebook groups or travel nursing website communities like The Gypsy Nurse to hear a diverse collection of experiences so that you can make a more informed decision on whether the role is right for you. 

While you’re out on assignment, these groups can also serve as great ways to build relationships with other travelers and stay up to date with relevant information as well. It is the tip that keeps on giving! 

Tip 2: Research housing options 

Brace yourself— this one is a bit of a doozy, but it’s important, so we’d be remiss not to put it at the top. Not thoroughly looking into housing is a common mistake for many new travelers. While no one expects you to know everything (that’s why your recruiter is there to help), it’s always wise to know your priorities, needs, and budget beforehand.  

The housing process for travelers is notoriously complex and may take some trial and error before you find what works for you. If you choose stipend compensation, you’ll be fully responsible for locating, booking, and paying for all your housing and related expenses like utilities. 

Common examples of housing options for healthcare travelers include: 

  • Extended-stay hotels & long-term Airbnbs 
  • Apartments 
  • Rental homes 

You can also investigate housing websites tailored to healthcare travelers. We recommend the following: 

Tip 3: Be ready for different pay structures 

This leads us to tip 3. Travel nurses can make more money than permanently placed staff, though the way it’s presented might surprise you at first. There are considerable costs upfront, but don’t worry; agencies will reimburse you throughout your assignment on a weekly basis.  

As briefly mentioned in tip two, travelers are usually responsible for paying the first month’s rent and utilities when selecting a housing option. You may also be accountable for license fees, fingerprinting fees, other fees associated with onboarding (if not provided by the agency), and travel costs to get to your next location. Therefore, working with a financial advisor to better understand your first placement may also be wise. 

It’s also helpful to know that there is a pay gap when starting an assignment. Typically, travelers will begin getting paid during their second week on the job and will either be paid weekly or bi-weekly afterward. You will see your first week’s wages, don’t worry, but it will be tacked on one week after the contract ends. Keep this in mind when planning your budget, especially if your assignments aren’t back-to-back. 

Tip 4: Find a recruiter that fits your needs 

Once you’ve researched and found an agency (or agencies) that you resonate with, the next step is finding a recruiter that aligns with your goals. Recruiters are your point of contact, and they are in your corner. If you need help, support, or clarification on something— ask them.  

That said, not all fits are right. Clearly and respectfully communicate what you are looking for and what you will and will not accept to establish a good relationship. 

Tip 5: Try—don’t talk yourself out of it if it’s what you want 

While being fully prepared takes a lot of research, don’t let it stop you from taking a chance to broaden your opportunities and skillsets. Healthcare professionals are hardy. You can do this. 

 The rest of it can be broken down into two steps: 

1. Submit your resume to recruiters: Review open nursing jobs and connect with your recruiter to apply for the best ones. Also, keep track of where and to whom you submit if you are looking for or at multiple agencies.  

2.  Apply: Once you and your recruiter identify assignments you’re interested in, fill out the applications. Yes, this is easier said than done, but once you’ve done one, it’ll be a piece of crumb cake! Also, applying for more than one assignment can be a good idea. As a new traveling nurse, you will not be at the top of the resume pile. Other nurses will be applying for these same jobs; some will be veteran travelers or be equipped with more skills. Therefore, it’s wise to have multiple options to decide which contract to take. 

Ready for your first assignment? 

It’s a big change, we know, but becoming a healthcare traveler can be very rewarding. With healthcare professionals more in demand than ever, it’s a perfect time to take the plunge! 

GedMed Staffing is also behind you every step of the way. We lean into our core values of integrity, excellence, and quality for every interaction. Contact us today to learn more about how GetMed can help you achieve your goals as a traveler!