Andrew Wettengel / Friday, September 11, 2020 / Categories: Work World


Travel nursing offers a wide array of benefits. With travel nursing, many expenses are paid; however, there are a few costs that many of our new travelers later tell us that they didn’t expect as they were getting started.

We want to share with you some of the hidden costs of travel nursing that you may not be expecting, as well as how to deal with them when they do arise. 

1.    Housing Costs

If you accept your staffing service’s paid-for housing, you shouldn’t have any unexpected costs when it comes to your living situation. You can, however, choose to find your own place to stay for the duration of your travel nursing assignment. In this instance, you will receive a housing stipend. If you choose to live somewhere that is more expensive than your stipend, you will have to pay for the extra expense. 

Many travelers do the opposite, however. Money-savvy travelers take the stipend and find a place that is less than the stipend so that they can keep the difference. This money can be used for recreational activities, savings, or anything else the traveler wishes.

There may also be costs associated with signing a lease, including a security deposit or application fee. Be prepared for any of these hidden costs if you choose to find your own housing and take the stipend option.

2.    Moving Expenses

Getting to your new assignment can be a costly venture. Most travel nurses choose to move their belongings by using a Uhaul or similar equivalent. While these are usually a cost-efficient way to move, it may still be an expense that you were not initially considering. You may also choose to ship your things to your new destination, so you do not have to haul them yourself. However, these shipping costs can add up quickly. 

One way to cut down on moving expenses is to carefully plan what you are going to bring from assignment to assignment. You may choose to keep most of your things in a permanent residence or storage unit to limit the cost of bringing everything you own to each assignment. 

3.    Transportation

When choosing a place to live, you will want to consider the proximity between the hospital or facility you’ll be working in and where you choose to live. Transportation costs can add up if you are not careful, so try to pick a place to live that minimizes your commute.

If you bring a vehicle, gas will be your only transportation expense. However, if you don’t have a car or travel to a big city like New York and Chicago, you will probably want to consider taking public transportation. 

If you are lucky, your housing may be close enough to walk to work every day, which would eliminate any unexpected costs for transportation. If you are traveling with another nurse, you can carpool, which also allows you to both save money.

4.    Activity Expenses

When you are at an assignment, it is important to do things when you are not working. Get to know the area and experience local restaurants or events. While staying active and social is important, the cost of activities can add up. When planning things to do, be sure to incorporate some free or low-cost activities, such as going on a hike or picnic. You may also be able to find a place that provides discounts to healthcare professionals.

It is also essential for nurses to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Although some fitness centers may cost more if you don’t commit to a year-long membership, many gyms will give nurses and other health care professionals discounts. You can also consider joining a gym with locations across the country. Gyms like Lifetime Fitness and Gold’s Gym are a great place to start. You can also buy workout classes from brands like CorePower Yoga or OrangeTheory Fitness, which both allow you to use your classes anywhere you’d like. Typically, the more classes you buy at once, the better the discount, so this may be a way to save money.

When it comes to travel nursing, staying social and active is crucial, but it can lead to various unexpected costs. So, it is important to plan out and budget for your weekly activities carefully.  

5.    Family Costs

Many travel nurses will travel with their families. Travel nursing can allow you to go on all sorts of adventures as a family. However, it is much more expensive to travel with a family than it is to travel solo or with a partner. You’ll need to find housing with enough bedrooms and bathrooms to be comfortable. You will also need to consider childcare expenses and schooling.

Likewise, food, entertainment, and moving expenses are all costs that increase as you add more people into the move. Many nurses love to travel with their children, but you should remember that the costs will be higher.

Check out OneStaff Medical’s tips for travel nursing with children.

How to Deal with The Hidden Costs of Travel Nursing

The best advice we can give to travel nurses is to expect the unexpected. This means that you should always be prepared for unexpected expenses to arise. At OneStaff Medical, we like to arm our potential nurses with a few tips for dealing with the hidden costs of travel nursing.

1.     Plan Carefully

Many travel nurses will experience surprise expenses when they do not carefully plan ahead, especially when traveling to their new assignment location. The earlier you can start planning your journey, the more likely you are to account for all costs that will come up along the way. Consider everything that you need to bring on your journey. Is there anything you can put into storage or sell to minimize moving expenses?

Depending on how long it will take you to get to your destination, you may also need to plan for a place to stay overnight. Some travel nurses choose to stay at campsites to save money.

One way to minimize traveling costs is to pack meals for the trip to your destination. Stopping to get lunch or dinner on the way can add up quickly. These are just a few of the creative ways to save money along the way.

2.     Consider All Costs Ahead of Time

When you carefully plan, you will be able to predict your travel nursing expenses better, so nothing is a surprise. Many traveling nurses have thorough budgets for everything they may spend money on while on an assignment. Creating a budget and sticking to it will help minimize the hidden costs associated with travel nursing. Here are some things you should include if you decide to make a budget:

  • Housing costs 
  • Food and other necessities
  • Utilities
  • Activities
  • Transportation (gas, bus, train, etc.)
  • Gym memberships

After the first couple of travel nursing assignments, you’ll have a good idea about all expenses, and you can adapt your budget where needed. For example, transportation costs may look different depending on where your assignment is.

3.     Check for Discounts

Many businesses and brands offer discounts to healthcare workers, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Don’t be afraid to ask if a business offers any type of deals for nurses. If you choose the route of finding your own housing, many apartment buildings will offer rebates or signing deals to nurses and other healthcare professionals. Gyms and fitness centers are another area where you could save on costs just by being a nurse.

Additionally, various brands offer nurses’ discounts. Some examples of brands include Chipotle, Starbucks, and Nike. Take advantage of these deals and save in other areas that are not necessarily directly correlated to travel nursing.

4.     Ask Fellow Travel Nurses for Advice

One of the best ways to discover new money-saving tricks is to ask fellow travel nurses for advice. Some travel nurses have been doing it for years, so they will likely have some helpful tips on how to cut costs. They may also have advice on inexpensive places to stay in a particular city or town if they have been there before. Tapping into your network of traveling nurses can provide great insight into ways to save while on the road. 

Read our blog 6 Way to Maintain Friendships with Fellow Traveling Nurses for more tips!

At OneStaff Medical, we want to ensure each of our nurses has the tools and resources to have a successful travel nursing experience. Please reach out to one of our recruiters at 877-783-1483 if you have any questions. 

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