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6 Pros and Cons of Local Travel Nursing

September 14, 2023

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Megan Bebout

GettyImages-506479358-minEver heard of local travel nursing? While it’s possible to work travel nurse jobs in your home state, it may not be the best option for you. To help you decide what kind of travel nursing career is right for you, consider the pros and cons of local travel nursing.

6 Pros and Cons of Local Travel Nursing

 

What is local travel nursing?

Just like the type of travel nursing you know and love, local travel nursing involves working short-term contracts in healthcare facilities to help fill staffing shortages. The difference is that a local travel nurse works in or near their home state instead of venturing to different hospitals and clinics across the country.

Typically, to be a travel nurse, you must take travel assignments at least 50 miles away from your permanent home residence. These radius rules are often established by healthcare facilities to prevent full-time staff nurses from picking up local contracts. So, while some facilities in your hometown may offer local travel nursing contracts, others may not. Local travel nursing offers both pros and cons, so here’s what you need to know before you accept a local contract.

Pros of local travel nursing

You’re closer to family

One of the biggest reasons travel nurses like you might choose to take a local contract is because they can stay closer to family and loved ones. If you’re closer to your support system, you’re able to visit more frequently and be there for big milestones that you may have otherwise missed. The best part is you can be there for both the big and small moments without sacrificing your professional career as a travel nurse.

But if you want to experience the wonders of the U.S., you can live the best of both worlds by travel nursing with your family across the nation instead of opting for a local travel nurse contract. Many nurses bring their family on travel nursing jobs which allows you to tour new places together and fosters a more enriching experience for you and your loved ones.

No need for additional state licenses

Obtaining multiple state licenses can be a headache. Being a local traveler might help avoid applying for additional licensure.

Not only does staying in one place mean you don’t need more than one registered nurse state license, but it allows you to hone your skills and provide top-notch patient care, rather than navigating the complex and time-consuming process of getting credentialed in a new state. This convenience gives you the chance to put more time and energy into your work, which benefits both you and the individuals you treat.

However, here’s a secret: you don’t have to apply for every individual state you want to work in as a travel nurse. Simply apply for a compact nursing license. That way, you can practice your nursing skills across multiple states all under one license.

Limited travel costs

Another reason to consider local travel nursing is the limited travel costs. Since local travel nursing commuting costs generally involve short-distance travel of less than 50 miles, you can easily save money on travel expenses like overnight lodging and gas. Plus, local travel nurses are less likely to face the substantial costs associated with cross-country relocations like airfare, temporary housing, and meals during transit.

On other hand, when you branch outside of your home base as a travel nurse, you may have more reimbursement opportunities than those who don’t. Many travel nurse agencies (like Fusion Medical Staffing!) will cover the cost for or reimburse eligible travel nurses for travel costs. The downside is these types of financial resources aren’t available to local travel nurses.

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Cons of local travel nursing

Not eligible for tax-free stipends

The biggest downfall to local travel nursing is the inability to receive tax-free stipends. These stipends are given to eligible travel nurses to help with the cost of housing expenses, meals, and other incidentals while working a travel contract.

To get tax-free travel nursing stipends, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires you to maintain status as a temporary employee. That means that you can’t work in the same place for more than 363 days and that you must prove you have a tax home. While the IRS defines a tax home as the "general area of your main place of employment," a traveler's tax home can be your primary residence since you don't have a primary place of employment. 

Tax-free stipends offer travel nurses more financial flexibility and freedom by allowing you to allocate funds you would’ve spent on living expenses on the road to other areas of your life. Whether that’s setting aside money for future trips, investing in personal interests, or even saving for retirement, tax-free stipends can get you one step closer to financial stability. Even better, these stipends can increase your overall compensation package, giving you the opportunity to make the most of your hard-earned cash.

Since local travel nurses work within their tax home radius, they’re not qualified for tax-free travel stipends. Not sure if you meet the stipend requirements? Consider consulting a tax professional to get a deeper understanding of the nuances of your situation.

Only working in one state

While local travel nursing within a single state can provide a sense of familiarity, it also comes with certain limitations, and one of them is working in only one state. By focusing on one geographic area, you could miss out on a range of experiences and learning opportunities available in different healthcare settings.

Part of the allure of travel nursing is the ability to move around the country. When you establish yourself in different environments, you can broaden your horizons and gain exposure to various healthcare practices and different patient populations, as well as regional healthcare trends, and pick up skills you may not have had the chance to learn in your home state.

Fewer job opportunities

Dead set on working in your home state or your own city? Spoiler alert: you may have a harder time finding job opportunities. That’s because travel nursing is designed to fill temporary staffing shortages in different locations away from your home base. So, if you’re seeking a role in your own state where there’s less of a need for healthcare travelers, you might face less demand for your services and lose out on professional growth opportunities.

Travel nursing can give you an amazing opportunity for personal growth, adventure, and high pay packages. And thanks to the nature of the job, travel nurses can find travel contracts in many healthcare settings, such as bustling city hospitals and small-town rural clinics. Searching for variety , competitive pay and excitement in your career? Travel nursing could be the job for you.

Frequently asked questions

How long can I stay in one location as a travel nurse?

Although most travel nursing contracts average around 13 weeks, travel contract nurses can extend their contract to stay in one location for up to one year without tax implications, as per the IRS. According to the “one-year rule,” after a year in the same area, you may no longer be considered a temporary employee and become ineligible for travel reimbursements and financial aid. It’s always an option to stay and work in one location — you just may be considered a staff nurse instead of a travel nurse.

How much do local travel nurses make compared to non-local travel nurses?

Generally, travel nurses who opt for assignments across the country receive higher pay. The main reason is because these travel nurses may receive housing stipends, travel reimbursements, and sometimes even bonuses for working in high-demand areas. These types of perks aren’t available for local assignments since they don’t accrue duplicate housing expenses or other living expenses.

How can I find the best travel nursing jobs for me?

Ready to take on your next travel job? Start traveling with Fusion Medical Staffing! Traveling with Fusion Medical Staffing agency opens the gateway to a rich array of travel nursing opportunities.

Related: What Healthcare Travelers Love About Fusion Medical Staffing Recruiters

As a Fusion Medical Staffing nurse, you gain access to the best travel nursing jobs that align with your specialty expertise and aspirations. With an experienced support system made up of your personal recruiter, the clinical team, and compliance specialists, Fusion Medical Staffing is committed to matching you with travel jobs that line up with your goals and supporting you every step of the way. Find out more about how the travel process works at Fusion Medical Staffing and apply for travel nursing jobs!

 

 

Travel nursing, both locally and nationwide, provides a wealth of nursing opportunities for personal growth and professional development. What your individual travel nursing experience looks like will depend on your wants and lifestyle. While local travel nursing allows for more familiarity and comfort, nationwide travel nursing offers the thrill of adventure and the chance to explore diverse areas, healthcare systems, and cultures across the country. No matter which path you go down, both avenues provide a fulfilling career in the dynamic field of healthcare.

See our current nursing jobs at Fusion Medical Staffing!