At first thought, travel nursing as a parent might sound next to impossible. But what if we told you there are many ways to make it happen? The best part is you don’t have to choose between your family and your travel nursing career. Instead, you can have the best of both worlds!
Travel Nursing as a Parent with Kylee Short, LPN
Can I travel nurse with my family?
Sure, life as a traveling parent isn’t the typical 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. job that Dolly Parton lovingly sings about, but that doesn’t mean it’s not well worth it. But here’s the million-dollar question: Can you be a travel nurse with a family? And the million-dollar answer is:
But maybe your significant other or your kids don’t want to or can’t come on your travel assignment with you. In that case, you may be flying solo. Although it may seem impractical to leave your family behind for 13ish weeks, it’s actually a very popular option for many travel nurses like yourself. Luckily, a travel nursing schedule often allows you to go home on your days off to see your loved ones and catch up on all the things.
When it comes to your travel nursing career, you call the shots. That means that you decide where to work, when to work, and if you want company on your travel adventures. So, while you can travel nurse with your family, you don’t have to — you get to decide, young grasshopper.
4 things to consider when travel nursing with children
We’re not going to lie to you, travel nursing with a family takes constant effort and hard work. But it’s well worth it.
“As a family, we’ve been able to see so much of this beautiful country that we live in,” said Fusion travel nurse, Angela, RN. “It’s almost like getting paid to be on a family vacation. Three days a week I go to work, and the kids do schoolwork with my husband. The other four days we get to explore and go on adventures.”
Before you and your family embark on your travel adventure, take into account these four major considerations. Then you’ll be well prepared for anything that comes your way.
No. 1: Assignment location
When you travel with a group, it may be a little harder to figure out where to go next for your travel nursing assignment because there are more people and feelings to consider. Especially if you’re travel nursing with children, there are different priorities when it comes to the job location. For example, safety may be a bigger concern if you’re traveling with kids than if you weren’t.
Another thing to keep in mind with assignment location when traveling with a family is whether the destination is conducive to travel. Is it a big city with lots of efficient public transportation options? Are you able to drive your own car where you need to go? Is there any easy way for you and your family to get from place to place? For example, New York City is a big and busy city with lots of traffic — with travel nursing, you can decide if that’s the right vibe for you and your family or if you’d thrive in a more rural area.
Of course, one of the most important things to consider with assignment location is the available activities you can do as a family on your days off! Part of the fun of having your significant other and kids on assignment with you is the bonding time that comes when you’re not working. Find a location where you can have both — a travel nursing job and family-friendly activities. Here are some ideas of what to look for:
- Community pools
- Playgrounds and parks
- Community groups
- Local libraries
- Movie theaters
- Theatre playhouses
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No. 2: Travel transportation method
What’s your favorite way to travel to your next travel nursing job? Is it by plane? Train? Automobile? When traveling solo, you may have a little more flexibility, but with kids, it’s a whole other ballgame. Fortunately, there are tons of travel transportation options! All you have to do is figure out which is right for you and your fam. Here are some of your options:
- Road trip in the family car
- Take to the streets in a pimped-out van, RV, or trailer
- All aboard a passenger train
- Fly sky high
No matter which way you decide to travel to your next travel nursing job, make sure you have a plan for how to keep your kiddos entertained along the way. I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with sitting still. So, I can only imagine how hard that must be for the young ones. So, bring along your child’s favorite toys, books, and other activities to help keep them occupied during the long trip to your next travel nursing job. You can thank us later.
No. 3: Temporary housing options
As you know, a career as a travel nurse involves a lot of, well, travel. And with lots of travel comes temporary housing units. It can be hard enough to find a place to stay on assignment when traveling solo, let alone when you travel with your family. Don’t worry — we’re here to help.
Here’s the thing about travel nurse housing: You can either get a tax-free stipend to find your own temporary housing or you can forego your stipend and ask your travel agency and recruiter to find a place for you. But if you’re traveling with a partner and kids, then your housing needs may be a little different.
For example, if you take company provided housing, then the additional cost of more living space will be factored into your pay package and reduce your overall pay rate. However, if you take the stipend to find your own temporary housing, the unit may cost more than the stipend. If that’s the case, ask your recruiter if you can divert a portion of your taxable wage to the stipend so you avoid paying taxes. If that’s not an option, then make sure you save your lease agreement and travel nursing contract to prove that you paid more than what you received for housing. That way, you can declare the difference as a deduction on your income taxes, as long as you have a legit tax home. And if you're not sure what a tax home is, check out this handy dandy med traveler tax guide!
So, before you pack up all your belongings and sign a lease, decide what type of housing will work best for you and your family. Here are some things to consider when it comes to temporary housing:🏠 Do you need pet-friendly housing?
🏠 How many bedrooms do you need?
🏠 How much space do you need?
🏠 Do you need something fully furnished?
No. 4: Childcare services and school
As an in-demand travel nurse, you may not always have time for school drop-offs or pick-ups, playdates, or other child appointments. But that’s exactly why caregivers like babysitters, nannies, and daycares exist!
Of course, the type of caregiver will depend on your child’s age, personality, and needs. For example, perhaps a daycare service is best for your kiddo while you and your partner are at work, but then maybe a babysitter is needed when you and your significant other venture out for a date night.
If your child is school-aged, you’ll need to determine what kind of education will be best for them while on the move. Is it best to enroll your child in a local school while you’re on assignment? Or is homeschooling a better option for you and your family? It's up to you!
Q&A with Fusion traveler and travel mom, Kylee Short, LPN
We’re not gonna try to fool you, travel nursing as a parent is hard work. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it and right for you. To find out more about what it’s like to be a super parent and a super traveler, we interviewed Fusion traveler, Kylee Short, LPN.
Megan Bebout: Hi Kylee! Thanks so much for letting us feature your awesomeness. To jump in, can you tell us how long you have been a nurse and why you chose to be an LPN?
Kylee Short: Hello, thanks for having me! Yes, I have been a licensed practical nurse (LPN) for four years. I chose to become a nurse because I was influenced by my mother, who has been a nurse for the past 30 years. She has been the inspiration behind my career, as well as many other aspects of my life.
MB: Wow, 30 years is quite the accomplishment! Your mom sounds like an incredible lady! So, in your experience, what are the perks of being an LPN?
KS: The perks of being an LPN can first be noticed when it comes to the timing of education. It's a shorter amount of time for schooling than what a registered nurse (RN) must complete. Further perks include being able to continue your education while working. As you're working as an LPN, you can hit the books to become an RN, all while earning a steady income.
MB: Oooh, that’s so cool that you’re able to continue learning and growing while on the road. What made you decide to take your LPN career on the road as a professional traveler?
KS: I decided to become a traveling nurse mainly because of my love for travel and adventure. I also was intrigued by the difference in pay, as well as the ability to not only be able to travel but produce an income while traveling.
MB: Right on, those are all good reasons to hop aboard the travel nursing express. Now I'm not going to lie, we've creeped on your Insta, can you tell us a little about your family? How old is your daughter?
KS: Yes, of course! She is my favorite subject to talk about! My daughter just turned four years old in September. She is the most adventurous, kind-hearted, and courageous little girl one would ever meet. She loves hiking, exploring, and being outdoors. She is basically a miniature version of me. Our leader of the pack, Ty (my spouse), is just as adventurous as both of us girls are. He definitely keeps our desire for travel rolling by sharing new ideas for adventures with us daily.
MB: That sounds like a dream! She’s absolutely precious and I love seeing all the adventures that you post. Does your family join you on your travel assignments?
KS: My family does travel along with me on assignments. It is very important to plan ahead when traveling with a child. I will first research valuable resources for my family and me in that particular area before deciding on an assignment. These resources include daycare, school, housing, etc. For previous assignments, I have used Care.com because they provide background checks and Furnished Finder for housing. Schools and other educational needs can be found simply by researching the specific area and/or surrounding areas of your assignment.
I like to make sure I have every detail planned regarding my family before signing any contract. My spouse has an occupation that allows him to travel, therefore we are always together.
MB: Sounds like there’s a lot to consider before accepting a travel nursing job. So, what's been your favorite travel experience with your family, so far?
KS: We love to travel on our off days and in-between assignments! I think our favorite travel experience so far this year would have to be Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. We were able to hike the beautiful mountains, catch sight of the amazing wildlife, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
MB: Oh, my husband and I love Colorado! That sounds so incredible, I’m jealous! As a traveling parent, what would you say are some benefits of travel nursing for parents?
KS: I can say the most rewarding aspect of traveling as a parent would be the fact that I am able to experience it with my family. The world is such a big place in the eyes of a four-year-old, and I feel so grateful that I have the ability to be able to show the beauty of this world to my child. There is nothing better than seeing the reactions to some of the most beautiful places on this earth from a little girl who is just dying to explore more.
MB: My sister just had a baby girl and I’m excited for these moments together! That sounds so special. On the flip side, what are some of the challenges of travel nursing for parents?
KS: Traveling as a parent sometimes does have its downsides. The most strenuous and stressful part of traveling as a parent involves the planning and researching that has to be done before choosing an assignment. I like to make sure I have the resources to provide the necessary care that it takes when traveling with a toddler.
MB: Ah yes, makes sense. Okay, to wrap things up, can you tell us what tips or advice you have for other travelers with kids and families?
KS: The best advice I have to offer when traveling with a family is plan, plan, PLAN. You'll need to start planning about four to six weeks prior to starting an assignment. This includes planning for childcare, finding housing, etc. It's important to find the appropriate resources that your family will need during your next travel adventure.
MB: Thank you so much, Kylee! We loved getting to learn more about you, your family, and how you live the best of both worlds!
There's no guidebook that can give you the one-size-fits-all secret formula for how to be a good parent and a good professional at the same time. When it comes to travel nursing, you don't have to pick between your career or your family. Instead, you can have them both and now you know how!