Series: Travel Nurses

A Guide to Travel Nursing with a Family

Posted on April 8, 2020
A Guide to Travel Nursing with a Family

A question that often pops up in travel nursing forums, Facebook groups, and within the halls of hospitals themselves is: Can I have a family and be a travel nurse?

To the uninitiated: Yes, you absolutely can.

The real question is not “Can you do travel nursing with a family?” but “how to do travel nursing with a family.” Because, while it’s certainly possible, it doesn’t mean it comes without challenges. How does one juggle providing excellent patient care, being a good spouse and/or parent, and traveling across the country multiple times per year? Just two of those three is already daunting.

For a guide to being a travel nurse with a family, read ahead.

The Call to Adventure

As in any hero journey, there needs to be a call to adventure. Travel nursing alone, without pets, children, or significant others to consider, already has its challenges and its rewards, which mostt of you have probably already sorted out for yourselves. Adding all the other factors will involve even more considerations. Think for a moment how you feel about:

  • Homeschooling your children Living without a designated home base
  • Moving your family across the country 3-4 times per year

It should be noted that these are not requirements. These are just possibilities which might make some queasy, others shrug.

Another important note is that not all families are the same. You may be traveling with children or with no little ones to speak of. You might be travel nursing as a way to experience the world before you retire and are wondering how to convince your stuck-in-their-ways partner about why they should tag along on this new journey.

All of this will be considered below in detail. To start, let’s address the common overarching problems travel nurses with families face.

  • Having a home base: Extended-stay solution
  • Educating the children: Home School vs New School
  • Traveling with family
  • Remaining flexible within your career choice

Extended-Stay Solution

First things first. Let’s talk about the one word that is going to affect many decisions along this process: Home.

  • Do you want a “Home” home—a place where the whole family returns to after every assignment?
  • Or is Home where the heart is—as long as you’re together, you’re Home?

There is no right or wrong answer; there’s just your answer. If you’re someone who needs the stability of a central command, a mothership, a home base, then it’s possible to manage an affordable home as well as temporary housing when you’re off at another hospital. The benefits of this include:

  • Having storage – With a home comes a garage to store keepsakes and equipment, walls on which to hang memories, and the ability to own a lot of stuff. Moving from home to home (especially at the rate that travel nurses do) means staying light so it’s easier to pack it all up.
  • Growing friendships – As adults, continuing relationships with a bit of distance can be as simple as a calling, texting, or emailing every so often. Friendships for children are different. Location is a major factor in how kids develop growing relationships. By having a central home base, it will be much easier for the whole family to develop and continue friendships.

However, you might not have the finances to support owning a home and renting a place while you’re at a new hospital. If so, this leaves open the other option, where each new job is another adventure for you and your family.

If home is where the heart is, then having a furnished place to live is important. Without the stability of a long-term lease, everything from the couch to cutlery is going to start to seem like one more hassle.

That’s why Zeus Living offers furnished homes fit for the whole family in major metropolitan areas. An option that used to be reserved for corporate entities putting up their employees in a home is now available for everyone—traveling nurses included. Zeus offers:

  • Choice of home – Where you and your family will stay for the next 3-6 months is important. Thus, you can choose the place by location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and décor.
  • Fully furnished – From day one, your home will have all your essentials covered, from the bed sheets to the bathroom supplies to a fully-stocked kitchen.
  • Amenities – Everything that you don’t want to have to think about comes ready for your stay. That includes WiFi, an HD TV, utilities—you name it.
  • Flexibility – Zeus offers easy check-in, transparent pricing, and workable leases to make finding a home for traveling nurses as convenient as possible.

As an extended-stay solution, a comfortably furnished home is far more advantageous than spending money on an overpriced hotel. Plus, with Zeus, you can say goodbye to the headache of finding, vetting, moving into, and maintaining a new apartment. Zeus has already made sure your extended stay is comfortable, inspected for cleanliness it, and outfitted for the whole family.

The Education Conundrum: Home School vs New School

If you have kids between the ages of 6 and 18, or little ones who are nearing schooling age, the conversation will constantly cycle back to education. To homeschool or not to homeschool—that is the question. The first two factors to consider are:

  • Can your partner take on the responsibility? As a traveling nurse, 3 or 4 days of your week are going to be swallowed by the hospital. From there, 1-2 days will be spent recovering and relaxing. If you have a partner in the equation, talk to them openly and honestly about the immense decision to homeschool.
  • Does your travel nurse agency support families? Most travel nurses operate through a nursing agency to help simplify jobs, housing options, taxes, and overall life. If you’re among this majority, talk to your representative about whether they help with school. Often, they have resources for public school transfers, online programs, and more.

Both methods—homeschooling or traditional schooling with transfers—have merit to them. Each one should be carefully weighed and discussed openly. Make sure you communicate this information with your children as well. Though they may not make the final decision, understanding their wants and needs can be helpful in the process.

Get Comfortable Traveling

It’s traveling day. That means everyone needs to be at the bus stop by 6:30 am, on the train by 9 am for the 11 am flight, and check in to the new Zeus apartment around 4 pm. It’s this type of hecticness that becomes unsustainable unless you get comfortable traveling.

For some words of wisdom passed down by previous travel nurses whose family travels with them:

  • Keep a minimalist outlook – When you’re repacking and unpacking for the third time that year, every extra lamp, towel, or baseball you caught at an MLB game will suddenly become an extra layer of stress. As travelers, you have to be okay saying goodbye to the nonessential items.

 

  • Allow everyone their packing space – Whether you travel with suitcases in tow or cross-country by minivan, it’s important that everyone is allotted space. For example, every member of the family gets two suitcases—one for clothes and one for entertainment, toys, memorabilia, books, and everything else. This way, nobody feels cheated or left out of the equation.
  • Be prepared to laugh – A diaper needs changing but you have five minutes to make it to the train station. Your tire pops 32 hours into your journey—it’s midnight and you have to put on an impromptu camping night for the family. There are so many unforeseen complications of traveling. When traveling is part of your job, sometimes all you can do is laugh through the worst of it.
  • Make the most of it – Yes, travel nursing comes with a bump in salary. But that’s only one perk. Think of all the places you get to travel to, the sites nobody else gets a chance to see—remember to make the most of it, even when you’re tired.

When in doubt, don’t forget: Every job has its downsides. Traveling and all the headaches involved can often feel overwhelming. But the benefits of travel nursing are incredible and unmistakable.

Thriving Career That’s Flexible to Steer

All this time the focus has been about your family. But let’s take a moment to talk about you. Often when you have a family, the conversations steer toward “settling down.” Though, as a traveling nurse, these words don’t really fit into your lexicon.

As a travel nurse, you can remain flexible in your career path while still maintaining stability for your family. Speak with your representative at your travel nurse agency to find back-to-back assignments that will have your family in one location for longer periods of time. Or choose the nursing assignment with the most weeks involved.

Doing so will allow you to focus on both aspects of your life: your nursing career and your family.

Can You Be a Travel Nurse With a Family?

Hopefully you’ve learned that being a travel nurse with a family is totally doable—with a little practice, some flexibility, and a sense of humor. Naturally, there will be tough days. But the upsides of having your family with you and supporting you as you travel the country and experience all the incredible sites are incalculable.

To take one massive headache off your plate, talk to the representatives at Zeus Living. Not only will you speak with a human (as opposed to an automated service), but you will see that finding a furnished home for you and your family is much simpler than ever imagined.

Sources:

Blue Pipes. TTATN 022: Are Travel Nursing Agencies Necessary? https://blog.bluepipes.com/are-travel-nursing-agencies-necessary/

Nurse.org. How To Make The Most Money As A Travel Nurse: 10 Tips For Higher Pay. https://nurse.org/articles/how-to-make-the-most-money-as-a-travel-nurse/

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