By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert
I don’t know about you, but I could never get a travel nursing contract that would allow me to go home over the holidays. This challenged me in my first year, as I was away for the winter holiday months. But after spending my first Christmas on assignment, I realized that celebrating the holidays as a travel nurse can be just as fun as one at home.
Why working the holidays as a travel nurse can be enjoyable:
Reason No. 1:
Holiday pay differential! Working on the holidays does amount to a different pay scale and should be an important consideration for any travel nurse. I remember one assignment that offered a $1,000 bonus if you worked all the major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Day, and New Year’s Eve/Day). If you are ever offered this option, strongly consider it – at least once in your nursing career.
Since my wife was traveling with me, we decided to rearrange our schedules and both work nights, leaving our days available for celebration. Although it wasn’t a traditional holiday season for us that year, we made the most of it—and even had our very own Charlie Brown tree!
Reason No. 2:
Who says you can’t bring your family to you? One year, I had my parents come visit me on an assignment in San Diego. We had a great time outside on Christmas Day, walking the beach and enjoying a warm sunset. My dad later told me it was a great Christmas because where I’m from we usually have several inches of snow on the ground.
Another year, my family got together for the New Year’s holiday in Nashville. I did have to work, but I planned accordingly and was up spending the whole day enjoying college football and indoor fireworks at the Gaylord Hotel! So, plan wisely and bring your family out to visit you; trust me, it can be just as good as going home.
Reason No. 3:
If you travel to a larger area over the holidays, you may work with other travelers who are in the same boat as you. And that’s when travel nurses should unite. My first Thanksgiving as a traveler I spent on the beach with five other travel nurses, deep-frying a turkey and surfing. That same night, we all went in and worked our 12-hour night shifts and had a blast eating leftovers.
Then, when Christmas came, we all got together again and went out in the morning to a karaoke bar after our shift to celebrate the holiday together. I made some great friends that year; some that I still stay in touch with today.
When you have a group of people going through the same thing at the same time, you grow pretty close in a short amount of time. I always looked at my fellow travelers as my extended family and that made holidays less lonely. Plus, my traveler family understands what it’s like to work 12-hour nights and then go out for buffet-style breakfast on New Year’s morning!
Don’t let one holiday (or two) away from home stop you from being a traveling nurse. I spent many holiday seasons away from home traveling, and I enjoyed every one for different reasons. The memories I made traveling make for great stories today, when I’m sitting with my kids and parents on different holidays. In fact, a picture of that Charlie Brown tree still hangs proudly from our tree as an ornament memory of great Christmases long ago!
I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. They are the true reason travel nursing is so great – seeing how other people live, experiencing new things, and making new friends and extended family members.