Ask a Travel Nurse: How do I know I will earn enough pay Travel Nursing to cover my expenses on the road and back home?
Ask a Travel Nurse Question:
Hi David, I am just starting to consider Travel Nursing jobs and have many questions! My bottom line is making sure my actual cash pay will be enough to cover my travel expenses as well as my current expenses. How do I know I will earn enough pay Travel Nursing to cover my expenses on the road and back home?
I will have all the same at-home bills to pay, as well as housing, car, food, etc. while I’m traveling. How do I calculate what that total will be? Do I need to look up housing, car rental, food costs, etc., and estimate what I will have left? I am especially interested in Hawaii, FYI. Thanks!
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
If you are looking to travel for the enjoyment of seeing new destinations (rather than the sometimes unrealistic expectation of earning top dollar and paying off all your debt), then you should not have much trouble meeting your home expenses while traveling. I have traveled with and without a home and despite having a mortgage in another state, I still always had enough take-home to pay my bills with some “play money” left over.
You question actually has a lot of variables built into it. Will you be maintaining a “tax home” in a state other than that in which you wish to travel? Will you be participating in your travel company’s tax advantage program? Will you be traveling with a company that provides housing? A rental car?
I will tell you that I would put off travel to Hawaii until you do an assignment or two here on the mainland. Hawaii is the one destination where you will not likely see much extra spending cash and may even end up negative for the trip. You will want to have a good handle on your travel “take-homes” before a HI assignment.
Look at all your current monthly expenses and see which ones will continue while you are on the road. Home and car payments will not fluctuate, but if you own a home (and it will be vacant when traveling), gas/electric/water, etc. will all certainly be less if the home is unoccupied.
Unless you are traveling to someplace like Hawaii, where you know the cost of living to be drastically higher, things like your food and auto fuel budget, should be about the same.
If you travel with a company that provides your housing, you are usually not looking at much to budget there except cable and phone line expenses. Many companies I work with provide a one-bedroom apartment, furnished, with utilities or a certain amount for utilities each month (this can become an issue during a Phoenix summer or Minnesota winter as air conditioning or heating may eat into the utility bill above what your company is paying).
Should you travel with a company that does not provide housing, or elect to take the housing stipend, then that is just one more variable that will fluctuate with each Travel Nursing contract.
If you are traveling within the states, and plan to travel long term, it may be worthwhile to invest in a car/truck that you will be able to drive to assignments with you. Unless you are someone comfortable with walking or using mass transit, on many assignments, you will want to have a car. There are some companies that provide rental cars to their travelers, but nothing in life is free and you will earn less (likely in your per hour rate) on any assignment where transportation is provided.
It’s also my personal opinion that if you are a Travel Nurse, you should feel comfortable packing up the car and heading out, whether the destination is 200, or 2000 miles from home. I have even driven my truck 2000 miles from Columbus, Ohio to the Los Angeles port, only to have it travel another 2000 miles, via cargo ship, to Hawaii. I just love having my own personal vehicle with me, wherever my destination.
It’s hard to give exact answers without knowing your own personal situation, but I hope I was helpful enough in allowing you to determine what is needed (financially) in order to travel.