How to Balance Student Loans with Your Traveler Lifestyle

October 7, 2021


Megan Bebout

GettyImages-1321763763-minIt’s a thrill to graduate. You get all dressed up and walk across a big stage as an audience cheers and claps for you and all you’ve achieved. Then, as your classmate excitedly shouts, “We did it!”, the entire crowd of graduates symbolically tosses their graduation caps in the air.



Balancing Student Loans and Your Traveler Lifestyle



Oh, not everyone had a “Legally Blonde” style of a graduation ceremony? Weird. Well, regardless if you had an Elle Woods-type graduation or an online virtual ceremony in your pajamas, the important thing is you’ve graduated into an adulty adult—YAY YOU!

There are a million and one perks to being an adulty adult. For starters, you have the ultimate power to decide what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (Ice cream, chicken nuggets, and waffles forever!) But, on the other hand, adulty adult life comes with new responsibilities and commitments, like student loans and your career. 

Student loans tend to leave us feeling overwhelmed and for some odd reason, there’s no class to teach you how to navigate the financial liability of borrowing tens of thousands of dollars, although if you ask me, there should be. So, it’s not super surprising that 92 percent of students in America take out loans to help pay for their higher education. What is surprising is that the amount of total outstanding federal student loan debt is just under $1.6 trillion—do you know how many zeroes that is? Me neither.

Here’s the good news: Just by being a professional medical traveler, you’re already well on your way towards the stress-free, student debt-free life of your dreams. And we are so heckin’ here for it.


Take the steps towards a debt-free life

Have you heard that old, Chinese proverb that says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?” The same is true when it comes to paying off student debt—it, too, begins with one step.

No worries, friend. Your Fusion family has experience with student debt, so we collected and combined our shared knowledge to help out our traveler homies. Without further ado, find out the steps towards a life without crushing student debt.


Step no. 1: What type of student loans do you have?

There are a couple different types of student loans, but the most common are federal loans and private loans. If you’re not sure what kind of student loans you have, don’t panic! You can easily find out by checking your credit score for free on any online credit service platform. Federal Law entitles you to see your report from each credit bureau once a year for free, so double-check you haven’t already used your free pass. You can also visit the Federal Government Student Aid website to view your provider and manage your loans. So, what’s the difference between federal and private loans?


Federal loans

As you can probably guess, federal loans come straight from the U.S. government. Typically, federal loans have fancy names like Stafford, Direct, Subsidized, Unsubsidized, Perkins, or Grad PLUS and each have their own set of rules and requirements. For example, subsidized loans don’t accrue interest while you’re an active student, whereas unsub loans do. Womp, womp.

All federal student loans are funded by the government and come with very specific advantages. Wait, what kind of advantages? Well, unlike private loans, federal loans provide forbearance options, death and disability forgiveness, income sensitive repayment plans, and perhaps loan forgiveness, if you’re one of the lucky few.


Private loans

Then, there are private loans. Exactly what they sound like, private loans are funded by private entities, like banks. This option is most used when all federal loans have been exhausted because private loans don’t have nearly as many perks as federal loans.

Plus, private loans are often credit-based, so the interest rate can vary drastically depending on your current credit score. And remember that every hard credit pull affects your score.


Step no. 2: What are the current interest rates?

Once you figure out the type(s) of student loan(s) that are in your name, it’s time to investigate the interest rates. More specifically, we want to know if you’re enrolled in variable or fixed rates because that will help you decide what to do in step no. 3.

Variable or fixed—that is the question. Variable interest rates got their name since the payments vary and change over time, sometimes monthly and other times less often than that. Each time the rate changes, so does the payment amount, which could be good or bad depending on if you start to pay less or more.

Fixed interest rates, however, are set in stone when you take out your student loan and it doesn’t change, no matter how much you may want it to.

Step no. 3: What is this refinancing or consolidating mumbo jumbo?

Now that you know exactly what kind of student loans you have and the interest rates associated with them, you can think about if refinancing and/or consolidating your loans is a good idea for you. You may have heard these terms thrown around before, but what do they really mean?

Essentially, when you refinance your student loans, you apply for a brand-new interest rate for your existing loans. This process can take some time because lenders will examine your credit, income, debt-to-income, and your ability to repay the loan. The ultimate goal of refinancing loans is to pay down debt without depleting your life savings. It can be helpful because instead of sending multiple payments to a handful of lenders, refinancing allows for just one payment to the new lender. You have enough to remember in that noggin’ of yours, do you want a bunch of different lender information taking up valuable brain space?

Consolidating is most used with federal loans because it combines them all into one loan with a weighted average interest rate, which may save you money in the long-run. The goal to consolidating student loans is to reduce payments and make payments for a longer period, get out of debt faster, and/or reduce your interest rate.


Step no. 4: What to do? What to do?

There’s no specific guidebook for how to tackle your student loans and one person’s solution may not be yours. When it comes down to it, you have options:

  1. Refinance your loans—this is ideal for professionals who want to get out of debt sooner and aren’t worried about forfeiting those federal benefits
  2. Consolidate your federal loans and refinance private loans—this is best for those who are in search of low payments
  3. Let your federal loans sit and refinance your private loans—this is a good option for those whose student loans have been impacted by the pandemic

Of course, this information is for educational purposes only, so it’s up to you and your financial advisor to determine your best course of action towards a luxurious travel lifestyle without the stress of student loans.


How to know you’re ready to quit your perm job

A career as a perm staff medical worker has its own perks, but the ability to quickly pay off student debt isn’t one. If you’re sick and tired of the same ol’ routine and limited pay package, it may be time for you to peace out of your perm job and come to the travel side.

Since professional med travelers are more in-demand and require unique expenses, they earn higher salaries than perm staff. Where a staff nurse may have the same monthly base pay as a travel nurse, travelers are also entitled to tax-free housing, meal, mileage, and continued education stipends, as well as a one-time sign-on bonus, which offers a more handsome salary than perm staff.

This may be hard to believe since nearly 50 million Americans carry student debt with the average loan amount exceeding $37,000. We promise we’re not Joshing you. In fact, travel nursing couple, Lindsay and Garrett, can you tell you all the hot deets first-hand.

With more than $100,000 of debt between the two of them and 40 percent already paid off, Lindsay and Garrett weren’t into the idea of spending the rest of their lives chipping away at what felt like never-ending debt. Instead, they made a career change into travel nursing and jumped into their new forever.


“We were able to pay off our remaining $60k of debt during our first year of travel nursing!” Lindsay and Garrett said. “Travel nursing has allowed us to double our income. We were able to work hard at paying off debt, but we were also able to save money for the future and take 1-2 months off in-between contracts to do some international traveling!”


By being meticulous and mindful of their finances, Lindsay and Garrett came up with a solid plan to reduce their debt. They said by tracking their income and expenses for a “few years,” they were able to build a budget and monitor their spending habits. That way, instead of extra cash burning a hole in their pockets, it went towards paying off debt. They offered their expert advice:

“Start by reviewing your monthly budget (income versus expenses) over the past few months. This helps you get an idea of what you need each month. Since the travel nursing field can be very unpredictable at times, we recommend having a 3-month emergency fund saved.

Then, list off all of your debts and interest rates. Pay off your minimums for all loans/debts and then use your excess money to start tackling your debt! Just because you’re making twice as much as a traveler, if your goal is to pay off debt—don’t change your style of living. Keep sticking to your budget, and in almost no time, you’ll start seeing your debt disappear!

Don’t get us wrong, in our first year of traveling, we paid off $60,000 debt and saved/invested $13,000, but we also took 1-2 months off in between contracts to travel to 13 countries for fun! It’s all about balance.”


You may think that the only way to conquer your debt is to chase the highest-paying travel jobs, but guess what? You don’t! I mean, if more money is a top priority for you, then by all means, get on with your bad self! But if you’re a pro traveler for the thrill of it all, you don’t have to change your lifestyle to make a dent in your student debt.

“We don’t typically chase the highest-paying contracts,” said Lindsay and Garrett. “We live in an RV and prefer to chase locations and weather rather than chasing money. It’s all about your personal preference. Our goal is to make sure we’re doubling the income we would have made as staff nurses.”


Erase your student debt as a Fusion traveler

We double dog dare you to dive right in to the deep end of a medical travel career with Fusion Medical Staffing. Not only are Fusion travelers automatically welcomed with open arms, med travelers are also empowered to take control over their careers, meaning you can accomplish the goals that mean the most.

Whether you owe tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt, Fusion offers exceptional benefits that can be beneficial to helping you pay off debt. Here, we’ve checked them off just for you because we’re that awesome:

→ Competitive compensation

→ Weekly, tax-free per diem

→ Direct deposit

→ 401k match

→ Certification reimbursement


We want to give you the leg up to success in your career, and that means setting you up through competitive pay packages, tax-free stipends, same-day pay direct deposit, company 401k match, and reimbursement for continued education.  Fusion ensures every paycheck from each travel job is spent on what you want to spend it on, rather than only the no fun adulty adult things. So, if you want to pay off your student debt now or years in advance, we won’t stand in your way. Peep us on the sidelines cheering you on every step of the way!


Repaying student loans is the pits. But life as a medical traveler offers opportunities and advantages that some can only dream about. Not only do professional med travelers make more than their perm staff counterparts, but you also have the flexibility and freedom to decide when, where, and how you want to work. Climb onboard the medical travel train and start enjoying life without monthly student loan payments weighing you down.