I was recently asked an interesting question by a fellow nurse via email. She was considering her first travel assignment and was also in the market for a new vehicle. She asked me what type of vehicle I would recommend for travel nursing. My first response was, “Um, the one in which you can stuff the most belongings?” But as with any new car purchase, it all depends on your needs.
If you plan to drive to most of your travel destinations, you will certainly want something that gets decent gas mileage. However, if you are like me (and take everything AND the kitchen sink with you on assignment), then you will need the roominess of a larger vehicle.
I have to admit, I love my truck and would recommend one to anyone who wants to maximize their space. With a locking cap on the back, I can take a bevy of items with me and still have room for even more junk in the extended cab. I also have a hitch which enables me to tow a 6×10 enclosed trailer to many of my assignments. This allows me to take along my motorcycle to many of those warmer assignments. Even after all this, if I still require more space, I could always add a roof rack to either the cab of the truck or on top of the shell, or even both.
Now I will admit that with a V8 under the hood, I have to live with gas mileage only being in the mid-teens. This can dip even further if I am towing my trailer. So if you are concerned with gas mileage, but still want an ample amount of space, you might consider a cross-over.
Cross-overs are vehicles built on a car platform, but have many of the futures of SUV’s. I have recently looked at the 2010 Hyundai Tucson (all new body design from previous years) and also the 2011 Kia Sorento (also a completely new body design). Both offer a rear hatch with seats that fold down for cargo and boast MPG’s in the high 20’s. Both are stylish and start in the low $20K range.
If you seek something a bit cheaper, Scions start at around $17K and the Ford Focus can come in under $14K. Both allow a decent amount of space if you can keep your travel accessories to a minimum.
All in all, if you know that travel nursing will be in your future for a time, I would suggest finding something with gas mileage that is at least in the high 20’s and something you will enjoy driving.
Go ahead and opt for the extra accessories if you like. I have satellite radio, HD radio, compact disc, and even DVD in my truck. After all that, if I get bored I can always opt for MP3’s, a USB stick, or even pod casts or streaming audio on my cell phone. When you drive to every assignment, as I do, you will want the space, you will want the gas mileage, and you will want something that keeps you entertained on the way there. Package all that into whatever shape or form you can and that will be the perfect vehicle for travel nursing.