By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
In light of the Covid 19 pandemic we have seen a shift in how everyone is “doing” life these days. A lot of spouses have moved to work from home options, and even if you never imagined homeschooling your kiddos, a lot of parents ended up in that position regardless. While there are a lot of stressors that come with these changes, it could also be a good time to reevaluate your nursing career to see if you could make traveling with your family work for you!
Travel nursing used to be considered a career choice for singles. It is definitely less complicated to move frequently when you only have one person to worry about. However, it is possible to enjoy the perks of travel nursing even if you have kids already. With a little bit of creativity and flexibility, it doesn’t matter what your family dynamic looks like if you want to take them on the road.
Here are a few tips to help you get started successfully as a travel nurse with kids:
1. Be Flexible on Housing Ideas
Regardless of if you travel with your husband and two kids or you travel by yourself, your housing stipend will stay the same. Many people who travel with children opt for unfurnished apartments to help cut down on expenses or even consider buying an RV to help their kids feel more “at home” wherever they are.
2. Decide on a Parent Staying Home vs Paying for Childcare
A downside to moving away from your hometown when you have children is your options for childcare drastically decrease. You won’t have family who can watch them nearby, and you likely won’t even have neighbors who could “keep an eye out” if you needed them to. Instead, you will need to either plan for a parent to be at home with your kids at all times or look into childcare to cover the hours you are away.
3. Consider Extensions to Keep Childcare Consistent
A lot of people will recommend resources like Care.com to find vetted nannies if you need someone home full-time while you work. However, it can be hard to establish a good routine only to have it uprooted three months later over and over again. Because of this, travelers who utilize nannies may try to extend in one location for up to a year so their children can have a bit more stability while still enjoying a lot of the perks travel nursing offers.
4. Have In Depth Talks with Your Partner About Your Plans
Yes, working as a travel nurse can be great to combat burnout or improve your nursing skills, but if you are involving your significant other and children you have a lot more weighing on your decision. Make sure to keep an open line of communication with your spouse about how they are handling staying home more frequently, managing the kids full time, and/or providing homeschooling. Being the stay at home parent may “seem” like an easy job but in reality it can be very mentally taxing. Check in on your partner and make sure the lifestyle is still working for them as well.
5. Stick to the Basic Kid Items
Kids and babies can easily cause you to accumulate a huge amount of extra “stuff”. But in reality, there are some key items you need–the rest are just extra accessories. If you have a baby or toddler, a pack n play is a great safe sleep option for on the road. Otherwise, keep some basic toys on hand and either donate or mail them home when it is time to upgrade to the next age group. Also, don’t discount the fun that can be had outside or with basic household items. The same idea applies when it comes to clothes. Stock up on the basics, shop thrift stores or secondhand if possible, and then donate when you are done so you aren’t lugging clothes that don’t fit back and forth across the country.
6. Embrace the Chaos
With any form of travel nursing you can’t expect things to go according to plan. Throw a couple kiddos in the mix and it gets a little crazier. Give yourself extra time for long treks between assignments. Don’t get too stressed when you have to call in sick because your child has strep throat (travel nurses are human, too). And remember that you are giving your kids the experience of a lifetime and exposing them to areas of the country many people won’t get to see in their lifetime.
Working as a travel nurse with minimal strings attached may be easier, but traveling with your kids and family brings a certain comfort that you won’t find on the road by yourself. It is possible to make your dream of having a family and being a travel nurse coincide if you go in with the right attitude and are open to new possibilities.
Alex McCoy currently works as a pediatric travel nurse. She has a passion for health and fitness, which led her to start Fit Travel Life in 2016. She travels with her husband, their cat, Autumn and their dog, Summer. She enjoys hiking, lifting weights, and trying the best local coffee and wine.
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