Nursing, unlike other professions, makes it easy to jump in the water. I believe that once your circumstances and curiosity becomes greater than your fear of the unknown, you will begin looking for a contract. We did and do not regret the decision.
2012 will be a big year for us. We have started a web design business and two travel blogs. Additionally, we are considering the purchase of a large motor home so that we can become permanent travelers. That right there lets you know how we feel about travel nursing, but let’s go back to the beginning.
We became full-time travelers in October of 2011 and were recently asked about what led us into this lifestyle. Was there a firm decision and moment of clarity that set our feet on the road? Sure, but it came after finally acknowledging the existence of, and giving in to, our own gypsy natures.
There is also a depressing aspect of our journey that, in my opinion, follows the decline of American manufacturing. As a maintenance electrician, I have witnessed the fall with my own eyes. I was one of the last to go as I watched Cessna Aircraft cut 10,000 workers in Wichita. Thus, with broken loyalty and fresh wounds, I quit my next job two months before they shut the plant down and absorbed the business into another facility. I couldn’t watch it happen again, but as you can imagine, it did.
Long story short, it was time for a career change. At some point during all of this, I went back to college for Web Design and started taking classes online.
Looking back, I can see that we were already “amateur” road warriors. In our 17 years of marriage, Melissa and I have moved 14 times and have lived in 7 cities. I literally dragged the poor woman all across the Midwest while I went from one manufacturing plant to the next.
What we learned is that dodging lay-offs and continually working for struggling companies places a huge burden on the entire family. The sad truth is that we have only been able to work the same hours for 6 of the last 18 years, and take one vacation per decade. It hurts because, after shopping, sightseeing is her passion in this world.
I can see now that we were damaging her resume while trying to maintain high wages and provide for the family. Because of this, Melissa has worked for seven different hospitals in the last five years prior to taking her first travel assignment. We can joke about it now and refer to it as “travel training”.
As the situation and our emotions were heating up, here is a picture of where we were at:
- We had sold our last home 2 years earlier.
- Our current lease was coming up.
- Junior had gone off to college recently, so we were empty-nested.
- My “new” job required us to go days without seeing each other.
- Most importantly, Melissa was fed up with our lives and lack of adventure.
For as long as it takes Melissa to make a decision, the world sure moves when she finally does. Maybe she was just waiting for me to throw in the towel. I still don’t know, but here is how it went down.
I came home from work one day and said, “I give up. Manufacturing no longer provides an acceptable future. It’s time to deliver pizzas or something until I graduate.” She must have seen it coming because her reply was several steps ahead of me. She says, “Well, I have been speaking with a nursing recruiter lately, and I want you to be my Sherpa. You can finish college, take care of everything, and drive me to work every day while I make the money.” Since Cessna took all my manly pride during my first layoff, all I said was, “do you want me to wear an apron?”
We were packed and headed for the mountains two weeks later and have slept in the same bed at the same time every day since leaving. Feels kind of like being married for a change.
With a combined effort, Keith and Melissa participate in travel, nursing, web design, blogging, and photography. We are the couple behind the travel blog for nurses at Beauty & Bandaids.