We get a ton of questions from couples thinking about travel and what that entails. A few of our amazing, adventure seeking traveling couples took some time to share their experiences.
What are some of the biggest challenges?
Finding jobs for both of us within a reasonable distance and finding short term housing accommodations. (Daniel and Kate)
- We are extremely good travel buddies and I would go so far as to say we function better as a team when under pressure. So, many issues that might frustrate others aren't much of a problem for us. The only challenges we've come across are matching our hours/start times and getting the exact location we want. Jeremy is in the OR and I'm in the PACU, so he typically starts earlier than I do, so with one vehicle, that can get complicated, especially if you are working in an area without decent public transportation. But we make it work! And with this past extension, we negotiated and they gave us identical shifts if we stayed... so there's that! Also, if you want to be at the same facility, you almost have to pick a state... or multiple states rather than a specific town or city. We know where we want to be, but sometimes you just get jobs nearby and take day trips. (Kathryn and Jeremy)
- Finding jobs in the same spot! (Dinah and Jacob)
We are always on the same page as far as choosing assignments- but we would say our biggest challenge is being away from home. We REALLY miss our friends and family (especially our little niece and nephews!)- but Facetime and Skype help! Also, the flexibility of being able to take off between assignments give us the opportunity to go home and spend time with loved ones. We've also made a bunch of really great friends around the country while traveling, so it's definitely worth it! (Nicole and Beth)
Traveling together successfully is all about compromise. A great assignment might open up for one person, while the other person might have to take a less sought-after assignment for you to be together. Also packing is a nightmare! We never fight, but when we do, it's because someone 'had' to have that 8th pair of dress boots! (Rich and Blaire)
- Finding two jobs in the same area as we only travel with one car. Cutting down belongings to fit in one car. (Hannah and Gerad)
Definitely finding the best location with the closest two jobs. We have been lucky and the last 4 jobs have been with the same company. (Frankie and Allison)
We just signed a contract for our next assignment. One of the challenges we found when looking for this assignment was finding facilities that had openings for 2 travelers in critical care. Other than that, we haven't had many challenges! (Emily and Korey)
What are some of the biggest rewards?
- Having your best friend with you at all times- you have constant support and don't get lonely. We love to hike, bike, camp, snowboard/ski, snowshoe, etc. There are always new things to try out in different areas of the country! Being able to explore national parks together has been so much fun. (Nicole and Beth)
- Experiencing the journey together, seeing new places, paying loans off faster. Always having someone you know in a new place. (Frankie and Allison)
- Exploring the country together. Having each other for advice on therapy techniques. (Hannah and Gerad)
- The most rewarding part of traveling together has been getting to share new experiences. In just the past 3 months we've hiked 4 national parks (that we hadn't been to before), learned how to be prepared for bear attacks, taken rock climbing lessons, driven a snowmobile through Yellowstone, learned to cross-country ski (and downhill ski for Emily), and survived living in a hotel room in a tiny little town. Everyone said that we would really learn if we loved each other when we moved away from every one else. The past three months have only brought us closer to each other and helped us prepare for our lives together even more. (Emily and Korey)
- Having someone to share the adventures with and double the stipends. (Daniel and Kate)
You always have someone to share your experiences with... good or bad. Someone to commiserate with, to mutually appreciate the beauty of this country, and an extra set of hands when you need them. In many ways, it has made our relationship more meaningful. (Kathryn and Jeremy)
Experiencing new places. Professional development from working with different colleagues. Making lots of money! Since its so hard to make friends at new places in such a short time, its good to have someone you enjoy your time with at each place. Makes the traveling worth something. Probably the biggest things is being able to take time off in between contracts. Not too many people get to take 3-4 weeks off to spend time with their families for Christmas! (Dinah and Ashton)
- The rewards are endless. One of the biggest rewards is getting to see the world with your best friend. New experiences create new growth, so it always seems we're growing as professionals and people at the same time, which makes the relationship stronger as a result. Also, we work in the same department of the hospital, so we get to vent to each other when a bad day comes along, and the other person totally gets it. Time off is never an issue either. When an assignment ends, we get to take a vacation and recharge the batteries. (Rich and Blaire)
Best thing you've done on assignment together so far?
- Hiked Half Dome and Angels Landing in Zion national park. (Frankie and Allison)
- There are too many to list! In addition to seeing the country, experiencing different cultures, and eating great food, two of our favorites were hiking to the top of Mt. Humphreys (highest peak in AZ) and whale watching in the Puget Sound in Washington. Also, driving to various parts of the U.S. allows us to see parts of the country that most people don't see. Most people fly to various destinations and visit the "hot spots". As a traveler, we get to see everything in between which has been a very unique experience. (Daniel and Kate)
- Skiing in Tahoe (so much powder!!), and hiking in Oregon(especially Crater Lake) are some highlights. (Nicole and Beth)
We have thoroughly enjoyed immersing ourselves in the local culture where we are on assignment. For instance, we were very close to the Canadian border on our last assignment, so we spent a lot of time exploring the land and eating amazing Asian food in Vancouver, B.C. We're in Wyoming now, so Yellowstone is on our list of things to do. (Rich and Blaire)
- Going to a Green bay Packer game together! (Hannah and Gerad)
We summited the tallest peak in New Mexico! (Dinah and Ashton)
We've traveled to Jackson, WY 3 times during our assignment in Lander. If anyone ever has the opportunity to travel to Jackson through the Shoshone National Forest and over Togwotee Pass, I highly recommend it! As you're driving along through the forest and mountains, you make a turn and the Grand Tetons are right in front of you! It's really one of the most breathtaking views I've seen. We went to Jackson the first time to hike Grand Teton National Park before it closed for the winter. The second time we went and did a snowmobile tour of Yellowstone National Park, and the third time we went to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (where Korey snowboarded and Emily *attempted* to ski.) The town is known world-wide for skiing and adventure and its' beauty. It really just feels like a magical place. We love it there and have loved being so close! (Emily and Korey)
- We got engaged last Christmas! (Kathryn and Jeremy)
How do you agree on your next location?
- We have a bucket list and places we want to go. We coordinate this around any personal time off we need for weddings, family gatherings, etc. (Hannah and Gerad)
- We're only finishing up our first assignment, so we don't have a ton of experience on deciding where to go next. But, we are off to Santa Fe after finishing up here in Lander! The decision of where to go next was all about a new place, but still a mountain area where we could continue to enjoy being in the West for the rest of the winter months. We're super excited to be going to Santa Fe where there is skiing, rock climbing, hiking, and a lot of new culture to immerse ourselves in. (Emily and Korey)
- Most of our placements have been dictated by necessity: lots of friends getting married in Indiana over the past year and a half meant two placements there. Other than that we gravitate towards placements with lots of outdoor activities like Santa Fe and Tacoma. (Dinah and Ashton)
We have a bucket list of places we want to go, and basically once we start working with our recruiter, we spitball a few places we're interested in and if it's close to something we've wanted to see or do, we pull the trigger and go. (Rich and Blaire)
- It's a combination of what the area would offer (outdoor activities, restaurants, things to do) and the pay. (Nicole and Beth)
- We create a list of places we would like to go and then coordinate with our recruiters to see where they have jobs for a nurse and a PT within roughly an hour of each other. (Daniel and Kate)
- Jer says, "You pick and I say 'okay'." Ha! We have pretty similar tastes... and he's super easy going. (Kathryn and Jeremy)
- Thats tough. We get pretty swayed by money due to our loans. (Frankie and Allison)
Meet the couples
- Daniel (PT) and Kate (RN) - Daniel is originally from Huntsville Alabama and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He then attended East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN. where he earned his Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Kate is from Boone, NC. and earned her BSN from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN. Daniel started traveling right after graduating and has worked in the SNF and home health settings. Kate initially worked in a hospital setting in Labor and Delivery for a year and now works in Mother/Baby as a travel nurse. After getting engaged, we decided to start travel because Kate was unhappy with her permanent position and we always had a yearning for adventure and travel. We also saw travel as a great way to pay off student loans while "vacationing". We had nothing tying us down and the perks were just too hard to turn down. It has been an unforgettable experience! Advice For Couples Considering Travel: Traveling together requires good teamwork, organization, and patience with one another! There is a lot that needs to be taken care of between each assignment including phone interviews, obtaining new licenses, finding housing, coordinating trips back to our tax home, visiting family, pre-employment paperwork and requirements, and trying to take advantage of some vacation time. We typically make a checklist of things that need to be done and then try to complete each task asap so we can enjoy more hassle free time off between assignments. Also, being flexible and open to traveling to various parts of the U.S. will result in more job opportunities. It can be harder finding jobs for two people in the same town so you may need to be open to living between two assignment locations and commuting. So far, we have had pretty good luck finding opportunities for the both of us.
- Kathryn (RN) and Jeremy (RN)- Nursing is a second career for both of us. Jeremy was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and was originally working as a personal trainer and masseuse before deciding he wanted to go back to school and become a Nurse. He always had aspirations to travel, but first needed to get some Operating Room skills under his belt, which he was doing in Seattle when we first met. I had started my professional life in television, working at the ABC-affiliate in downtown Seattle. I was finishing my Masters degree in Digital Media when my dad got sick and I moved in to care for him, as taught to me by his home health nurses. At that point I realized I was in the wrong profession and went back to school as well. I too have long had a gypsy bug in me, traveling to see the world while on breaks as perm staffer, so it was never a question of "if" we would travel together, but "when." Advice For Couples Considering Travel: You have to trust that everything will work out, one way or another. If something doesn't go perfectly, try not to sweat it and find the positive in the situation. Most of the time, what seems like it could be a tragedy actually leads us to something better. We always have faith that the universe will provide us with an opportunity and it usually does.
- Jacob (RN) and Dinah (PT) - Jacob was born in Ohio but grew up in England, came back to the states for University. He joined the military and became an officer after graduation and was stationed at Fort Lewis/McChord in Washington state. I grew up Indiana but always loved the mountains so I packed up and headed west after I finished PT school. We met online! We decided to start traveling because we want to do the Pacific Crest Trail which requires us to take 6 months off of work. Contract work gives us the flexibility to do that without having to quit a permanent job. Advice For Couples Considering Travel: Don't apply for a job until you both have an opportunity, you don't want to have one person end up job less! Be flexible with housing, you may not find a perfect apartment but you're only there a short time. (Husband here) I would say that a consideration worth noting is that even if you get jobs in a non desirable location, its better to scrounge up as much money as you can by both having jobs and then enjoy the travel part in between contracts as opposed to both trying to get high desirable locations at the same time.
- Nicole (RN) and Beth (RN)- Beth is from MD, and our home is in NJ where Nicole grew up. We met in nursing school at JMU in VA--have been together for almost 8 years now. We are both ICU RNs. Lived and worked as staff RNs in DC for about 6 years and got married May 2014. We decided travel nursing would be a great way to see the country before deciding to settle down and have a family. What a great adventure to share together--it's been amazing. Advice For Couples Considering Travel: If having similar schedules is important to you (this can be a big deal breaker for us when deciding on assignments- we share a car), be very up front during interviews to find out how often you will be able to have the same schedule. Our very first contract we were both on rotating 50/50 days nights and we had completely opposite schedules for a lot of the contract, which was a huge bummer. You want to be able to explore your new area on days off together! That's the whole point! Also, we both work with the same recruiter, which I think simplifies a lot.
- Rich (RN) and Blaire (Surgical Tech)- I've been an operating room nurse going on 7 years, and I'm originally from Wyoming (GO POKES!). Blaire is from Portland, Oregon, and she's been a Surgical Tech for almost 4 years. We always talked about traveling as a dream, but we always found an excuse as to why we couldn't do it. Our beloved Golden Retriever, Parker, passed last year unexpectedly. This was kind of the thing that finally made us wake up and realize we could travel, and that life is too short to stay in one place if traveling is something that interests you. So, we packed up everything in storage, and hit the road. We were extremely nervous our first day at the new job, but we quickly learned we had what it takes to make it as travelers! Advice For Couples Considering Travel: The greatest advice for couples who are considering a travel assignment is to pack up a bag and hit the road, honestly. There will be hiccups, so there has to be some give and take and flexibility on both parts. Also, have a few extra dollars stashed away for a rainy day. It's not a lot of fun being 2000 miles from home without the resources you need to make it until the next payday. Find a great company, and don't settle for a recruiter you don't feel has your best interest in mind. Going weeks without hearing from your recruiter is unacceptable. Even if it's just a simple check in to see how the assignment is going, your recruiter is basically your lifeline while you're on the road. Our first company was one of the larger ones, which offered us some nice things like exclusive contracts. However, the benefits of being with a larger company were quickly outweighed by the frustrations and dissatisfaction that came with it.
- Hannah (PT) and Gerad (PT)- I(Hannah) grew up in Appleton, WI and I am a physical therapist working both outpatient orthopedic and acute care. I decided to become a traveling physical therapist so I could explore the country with my other half while paying off loans. I also liked the idea of working in different areas of the field to learn more and find my niche. Gerad grew up in Omaha, NE and he is an outpatient orthopedic physical therapist who completed a residency. He decided to become a traveling physical therapist to see the country with me and determine where we want to settle down. Advice For Couples Considering Travel: Make sure you apply for your state licensure in time. Take time between contracts so you can have fun getting settled into a new city.
- Frankie( PT) and Allison (PT)- I am from Raleigh, NC and Allison is from Indianapolis, IN. We basically decided to travel as we had just got married in Florida. Knew we would probably move to NC in a year or two. Decided, may as well travel the country, explore, experience other settings, live small, and pay off some student loans. Figured we would only do it for a year or so and now were not sure when we'll stop. Advice For Couples Considering Travel: Be flexible on setting if wanting prime location, Apply for multiple licenses at once, Know that anywhere can be fun when you have someone else with you.
Emily(RN) and Korey (RN)- Korey and I are both critical care nurses. We grew up in small towns near Louisville, KY and met at our home hospital there. We decided to travel to be able to explore the country before we decide to have children and settle down. We set a goal that we want to visit every national park in the US, and traveling is a great way to help us reach that goal as well! Advice For Couples Considering Travel: I would say to just be sure and keep an open mind. We didn't really plan on our first assignment being in the middle-of-nowhere Wyoming or being at a small, rural hospital. We kept an open mind about it and have strived to make the best out of every situation and learn something from it. I would also say that you should have a discussion about why you want to travel. For us, we both have a yearning for adventure and we wanted to travel mostly to see the country and experience different areas. If, for example, one person wants to do it for the money and one wants to do it for the experiences, you may end up disagreeing on where to take assignments. We kind of made the decision that we were willing to sacrifice pay for the ability to see areas of the country that we hadn't yet been to or that we were interested in.
Should you travel? Signs the universe is saying YES!
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