Ask a Travel Nurse: What kind of car should a travel nurse buy?


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 travel nurse with a new carrecommend 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.

About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

4 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: What kind of car should a travel nurse buy?"

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  1. Treasa


    My daughter is a travel nurse but I am not a nurse. I am interested in what it takes to become a recruiter for travel nurses and help them get their assignments.

  2. Jeff says:

    Hi Treasa,

    If you want to become a travel nurse recruiter I would start by finding out what travel nursing companies are in your area and see if you are hiring. Many want someone with a background in sales or recruiting, but we have seen that those with backgrounds in other areas can be succesful too. It really just takes a person who listens and cares about their customers.

  3. Anita


    In your bio you state you are not a nurse “have never been a nurse” and yet in this article you write “I was recently asked an interesting question by a fellow nurse”…
    which leads me to believe your post is pure fiction. just sayin’…

  4. Jeff says:

    Hi Anita,

    You are right I am not nurse. That post was written by David Morrison, RN, the author of “The Travel Nurse’s Bible” and a regular guest blogger here. He emails me the articles he writes and I post them for him, but every so often I forget to designate him as the author. Thanks for catching it. I went through all his old posts, “which are always titled “Ask a Travel Nurse: ….” and made sure that there were not any more I forgot.

    Thanks again for catching this.

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