Travel nursing is a unique and rewarding career option if you crave change, adventure, and opportunities for continuous learning. As a Black travel nurse, you can live in different parts of the country, experience diverse cultures, and tremendously grow your professional network – all while making a significant positive impact on people’s health.
But don’t get it twisted.
Even if you are jet-setting off to various locations several times a year, the life of a travel nurse isn’t all fun and games. In fact, Black travel nurses face a host of special challenges, everything from dealing with microaggressions on the job to figuring out where to get your hair done.
That’s why you came to the right place at BlackTravelNurses.com.
We’ve put together this guide, and this entire website, to help you navigate your journey with greater confidence and ease. We cover everything you need to know to launch, or continue, a successful travel nursing career.
Among other things, you’ll learn how to find great housing, pick the best travel nursing agency, negotiate top pay and benefits, budget and save effectively, settle smoothly into big cities or small towns, advance your skills continually, and find your tribe no matter where your assignment takes you.
You’ll also get the 411 on how to navigate tricky race and cultural issues with grace and strength.
So read on, sis, and get the information, tools, and support you need to have an exciting, meaningful, and prosperous career as a Black travel nurse.
One other thing: if you learn something helpful from BlackTravelNurses.com, don’t keep the tea to yourself. Share your newfound knowledge and this website with your girlfriends and other colleagues in the nursing industry, and let allies know too.
Whether they’re Black, White, Asian, Latino, or Native American healthcare professionals, they can all learn and support. Like Rihanna once said: “Pull up” and show some unity!
Table of Contents
- What is Travel Nursing? An Introduction to Travel Nursing
- The Pros and Cons of Being a Black Travel Nurse
- Nursing Specialties and Types of Travel Nurses
- Essential Skills and Qualifications For Travel Nursing
- Researching and Choosing the Best Travel Nursing Assignments
- Top Cities for Black Travel Nurses
- Pay and Benefits for Travel Nursing Jobs
- Financial Tips for Travel Nurses
- Travel Tips for Travel Nurses
- Housing for Travel Nurses
- Culture and Race
- Self-Care, Lifestyle, and Balance for Travel Nurses
- Career and Skill Development for Travel Nurses
- Resources for Black Travel Nurses
- Embracing Travel Nursing
What is Travel Nursing? An Introduction to Travel Nursing
Travel nursing is a profession that offers Registered Nurses – and even LPNs and some CNAs – the opportunity to work temporary assignments in various healthcare facilities across different locations.
It allows nurses to experience a wide range of healthcare settings, from hospitals and clinics to home health venues, educational institutions, and more. Travel nursing also provides flexibility in terms of location and duration of assignments.
As a travel nurse, you can choose to work in rural areas, bustling cities, or even exotic destinations. This career path offers a unique blend of adventure and professional growth.
Like any profession, travel nursing has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to weigh these factors before embarking on your journey. Let’s start with the pros of being in the industry.
Expanding Your Horizons
One of the most significant advantages of being a travel nurse is the opportunity to immerse yourself in different cultures, work environments, and locations. Traveling allows you to gain a broader understanding of the country and its diverse population. It is an enriching experience that can enhance your personal and professional growth.
Working in various healthcare systems equips you with versatile skills. Each assignment introduces you to different practices, protocols, and patient populations, allowing you to become a well-rounded nurse. This diverse experience can make you highly adaptable and sought after in the healthcare industry.
Economic Opportunities and Higher Pay
Travel nursing offers attractive economic opportunities. As a travel nurse, you can earn more than nurses in permanent positions and sometimes hit a six-figure salary level.
Currently, travel nursing salaries range anywhere from $2,000 a week to $7,000 a week, depending on location, your area of expertise, and the type of nursing assignment.
You likely won’t work every week though because you’ll need some break time between contracts. The typical U.S. travel nurse clocks 46 weeks of work per year.
Nationally, the average weekly pay for travel nurses is $3,167, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In addition to higher pay rates, travel nurses often receive housing stipends, potential bonuses, and other financial incentives. This can significantly increase your earnings potential and provide you with financial stability.
A Stronger Professional Network
Each assignment as a travel nurse is a new opportunity to meet and collaborate with a range of healthcare professionals. Building a strong professional network is essential for career growth. By working in different healthcare settings, you can expand your network, learn from experienced professionals, and establish valuable connections that can benefit your career in the long run.
Travel nursing allows you to find mentors or become one.
You’d be surprised at how well mentorship magic can work in the nursing world. You can find inspirational or more experienced mentors and you can serve as a mentor and role model too.
Working in different settings presents opportunities to connect with experienced nurses who can guide you in your professional journey. Similarly, you can also share your knowledge and experiences with other nurses, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment.
As good as these benefits are, there are always two sides to a coin. So you may be wondering, and rightfully so, about the drawbacks of travel nursing.
Here’s an honest look at the cons of being a Black travel nurse.
Facing Cultural Challenges
As a Black travel nurse, you will definitely face cultural challenges in different healthcare settings. These challenges can include dealing with microaggressions and potential isolation, especially in areas with less diversity. It is essential to be prepared for such situations and develop strategies to navigate them effectively.
Navigating Professional Challenges
Bias in patient care is another significant professional challenge that Black travel nurses may encounter. Patients may refuse care based on your race or ethnicity, which can be emotionally and professionally challenging. Additionally, adjusting to different healthcare systems and practices in each assignment can require flexibility and adaptability.
Tackling Practical Challenges
Finding a good fit for each assignment can be yet another hurdle. It may take several assignments to find the right healthcare facility or location that aligns with your preferences and career goals. Additionally, obtaining the necessary licensing and certifications for different states may require additional paperwork and effort.
Managing the Emotional Toll
Constantly moving from one assignment to another can take an emotional toll on travel nurses too. Adjusting to new environments, building new relationships, and saying goodbye to colleagues and patients can be emotionally challenging. Prioritizing self-care and developing coping mechanisms are essential for maintaining emotional well-being.
What Do Your People Say?
Finally, let’s be honest. There’s another drawback to travel nursing for some Black nurses. It’s the people we love.
Now, don’t take this the wrong way. But sometimes, family can’t remotely comprehend that America is a big country — heck it’s a big WORLD out there – and you might be dying to see more of it. (This is true not just for Black nurses, but for nurses of all backgrounds).
However, some of y’all know that once you announce your plans, or even hint about travel nursing, your Mama, grandmother, or other relatives are going to give you the side eye.
Then they’ll start peppering you with questions such as: “Where did you say you’re going?” or “Why do you have to work so far away?!” They might even put you on blast, and start posting about you on Facebook, calling you out with #SheDoingTooMuch!
But don’t worry. They’ll get over it. And if you get homesick later, so will you.
Within the field of travel nursing, various nursing specialties and types of travel nurses exist.
Understanding these specialties and types can help you make informed decisions about your career path.
Some of the most popular nursing specialties for travel nurses include critical care, emergency room, labor and delivery, and medical-surgical nursing.
These specialties often have high demand and offer competitive compensation. But this is just a sampling of what’s available. There are many dozens of nursing specialties you might consider.
At BlackTravelNurses.com, we offer a guide to these numerous nursing specializations, including highlights of the type of work involved and the certifications, expertise, or training required.
Additionally, there are various types of travel nurses, including first-time travelers, career travelers, and per diem travelers.
First-time travelers are those who are embarking on their first travel nursing assignment, while career travelers are experienced travel nurses who have made travel nursing their long-term profession.
Per diem travelers work on an as-needed basis and have flexibility in choosing assignments.
Essential Skills and Qualifications For Travel Nursing
To excel as a travel nurse, certain skills and qualifications are essential. First and foremost, you should possess strong clinical skills and knowledge.
Travel nursing often requires you to adapt quickly to new healthcare settings and patient populations, so being well-versed in a wide range of medical conditions and treatments is crucial.
Additionally, excellent communication and interpersonal skills are vital.
As a travel nurse, you will work with different teams and interact with diverse patients, so being able to establish rapport and effectively communicate is essential.
Lastly, adaptability and flexibility are key qualities for travel nursing. You should be comfortable with change, able to handle new challenges, and possess a positive attitude toward unfamiliar environments.
The travel nurse path allows you to continually expand your clinical skills and advance professionally.
Any time you get an offer for reimbursement, training programs, and continuing education opportunities from a new employer, take it! Obtain certifications like ACLS, PALS, TNCC, and NIHSS that boost your career opportunities and eligibility for more specialized roles.
Brush up on telehealth nursing skills to broaden the types of assignments and care settings available to you.
Consider precepting, training, or mentoring newer nurses to gain leadership experience and prepare for roles beyond bedside care.
In addition to this guide, reference the myriad resources available to help you thrive as a Black travel nurse.
Researching and Choosing the Best Travel Nursing Assignments
Choosing the right travel nursing assignments is crucial for a successful and fulfilling career. When researching assignments, consider factors such as location, duration, and facility type.
Think about your personal preferences, such as whether you prefer rural or urban settings, or if you have a specific city or state in mind.
Additionally, consider the duration of assignments. Some travel nurses prefer shorter assignments to experience a variety of locations, while others opt for longer assignments for stability.
Researching the facility type is also important. Determine if you prefer working in hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare settings.
By carefully considering these factors, you can choose assignments that align with your interests and goals.
Some cities offer more opportunities and a more welcoming environment for Black travel nurses. Just to get your mind flowing with ideas, here are a half dozen cities worth considering:
- Atlanta, GA
- Houston, TX
- Los Angeles, CA
- Oakland, CA
- Seattle, WA
- Washington D.C.
But there’s no rule that says you have to go to a major city or an urban location.
Maybe you’d prefer to work someplace rural. Maybe you’re curious about the Midwest. Perhaps you’d just like a change of scenery and you’re open to visiting any state in the country.
Ultimately the choice is yours.
Evaluate your priorities for selecting destinations with career opportunities aligned with your goals.
In some cases, you may not care as much about the precise location if you’ll get the type of work experience and professional learning that you want.
In other cases, you may value the location above all.
For instance, if culture, community, and belonging are priorities for you, top cities like Atlanta, Washington D.C., Houston, and more enable you to grow professionally while enjoying Black culture.
It’s not uncommon for travel nurses to make $80,000 to $150,000 or more each year.
While travel nurses generally receive higher pay rates than their permanent counterparts, it is crucial to know how compensation is structured.
It can take some adjusting and real-world experience to see how your take-home pay works out.
But once you snag your first few assignments, you’ll get more adept at evaluating your expenses, demystifying your travel nurse paycheck, and understanding how much money you actually keep in your pocket.
As they say: it’s not what you make, but what you keep that matters most.
For now, just know that travel nursing compensation typically consists of several components, including base pay, housing allowances, meal stipends, and travel reimbursements.
Base pay refers to the hourly wage or salary earned for nursing services provided.
Housing allowances cover the cost of housing, either through stipends or directly arranging accommodations.
Meal stipends provide additional financial support for meals during your assignments. Lastly, travel reimbursements include expenses related to transportation, such as flights or mileage.
But this isn’t all of your compensation. There are also lots of hidden perks and benefits of travel nursing.
Additionally, you can boost your income in various ways, including targeting top cities for Black travel nurses.
Here are some other tips for getting the high pay you deserve:
Thoroughly research the average pay rate for your particular nursing specialty and experience level in your destination city using resources like Salary.com, Glassdoor, Payscale, and local job boards.
When negotiating compensation, clarify obscure details that affect your earnings like completion bonuses, overtime and holiday pay rates, differential adjustments for weekends or nights, and a full breakdown of guaranteed hours.
Ask about less obvious monetary benefits like meal and mileage stipends, travel and lodging allowances, and free employer-provided housing options in certain markets.
Confirm how you will be paid – per hour, salaried, or a hybrid model. Closely track hours worked to ensure fair compensation when paid hourly.
Compare multiple job offers side-by-side using sites like BluePipes, Highway Hypodermics, and Gypsy Nurse. Leverage competing offers to negotiate better rates.
Prioritize high-paying states and metro areas like California, New York, and Boston to maximize income. With smart negotiation, you can earn $20,000-$30,000 more annually as a travel nurse.
Money management is never a cakewalk.
But managing finances on the move can be even more challenging.
If you’ve never been good at budgeting or saving money, do yourself a favor, and plan to automate your finances now! That means you’ll be putting your bills – like credit card payments and student loans – on auto-pay, so you don’t miss payments and wind up hurting your credit.
It also means you’ll start saving money automatically, taking funds from each paycheck and socking a little cash away for the future.
Be sure to check out all the financial content on BlackTravelNurses.com that gives you a range of insights and strategies to help you level up economically.
To highlight just a few articles, you’ll find specific advice on budgeting for success as a travel nurse, tax tips and tricks you should know, as well as retirement planning advice to ensure a more secure financial future.
Packing efficiently is essential for travel nurses, as you will be moving from one assignment to another. To ensure you have everything you need, BlackTravelNurses.com has created The Ultimate Packing Checklist for Travel Nurses.
You’ll start with the essentials, such as your nursing uniform, shoes, and necessary medical equipment. But don’t forget personal items like toiletries, clothing, and those all-important documents – such as your proof of vaccinations, immunization records, and
Our checklist outlines more than a dozen essential documents you’ll need to take with you. So be sure to bookmark that or return to this resource again and again!
Consider the time of year and any specific weather conditions in your assignment location and pack accordingly.
It’s also helpful to bring a few comfort items from home to make your new living space feel more familiar.
By being organized and strategic with your packing, you can minimize stress and ensure a smooth transition between assignments.
In addition to all the essentials you’ll need for back-to-back assignments, consider, too, the personal and professional on-the-job tools that will keep you performing at a peak level.
Maybe you never thought about why compression socks are a nurse’s best friend. But we have!
So we offer recommendations on everything from supportive nursing shoes and the best shoes for long nursing shifts to crucial, high-tech nursing gear that sets you apart as an innovator. If you don’t have these cutting-edge work tools for the modern nurse, you’re a step behind.
With the right mindset and preparation, venturing out as a Black travel nurse can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
When traveling to new locations, it is important to research the local community and understand the social dynamics. Familiarize yourself with local resources and support systems that can assist you during your stay.
Additionally, connect with other Black travel nurses or healthcare professionals in the area – ahead of time is even better, if possible – to build a sense of community and find support.
Finally, embrace your cultural identity and share your experiences with others. Your unique perspective as a Black travel nurse can plant the seeds in someone else’s mind about what’s possible.
Housing for Travel Nurses
Finding suitable housing is a critical aspect of your travel nursing experience.
As a travel nurse, you have several housing options to consider. One option is to arrange your own housing, either by renting an apartment or house or by staying in extended-stay hotels.
This provides flexibility and allows you to choose accommodations that meet your preferences.
Another option is to utilize the housing resources provided by your travel nursing agency. Many agencies offer housing assistance and can help you find temporary housing that meets your needs.
When considering housing options, factors such as safety, proximity to the healthcare facility, and cost should be considered.
At BlackTravelNurses.com, we offer an array of insights for you about your accommodations, starting with A Quick-Start Guide to Housing for Travel Nurses.
Short-term leases can be a convenient option for travel nurses who prefer to have their housing arrangements handled by their travel nursing agency. Short-term leases typically range from a few weeks to a few months and provide flexibility in terms of duration and location.
When signing a short-term lease, carefully review the terms and conditions, including the lease duration, rent amount, and any additional fees.
Ensure that the lease agreement aligns with the duration of your travel nursing assignment and that it provides the necessary flexibility to accommodate any changes in your assignment schedule. If you have any concerns or questions, seek clarification from your agency or a legal professional.
When arranging temporary housing and planning your travel assignments, look for furnished rentals with amenities that simplify life on the road – things like laundry, parking, gym access, cable, WiFi, and more. A community pool and clubhouse are pluses.
Secure recommendations from fellow Black travel nurses on vetted housing options.
Use trusted platforms like FurnishedFinder.com and TravelNurseHousing.com, which specialize in short-term rentals. Ensure any place you’re considering comes move-in ready with all essential furnishings, cookware, and linens.
When budgeting, realistically tally the full location-based cost of living – groceries, gas, public transit, entertainment, etc. Understand if utilities are included or that’ll incur extra fees. (Preferably, you want utilities included, of course).
Pick housing in a safe neighborhood that allows a reasonable commute to your assignment.
Ideal scenarios put you 10-15 minutes from work. Twenty minutes is also reasonable, and 30 minutes should be about the maximum time you want to be from your job site. More than that and your commute becomes a real grind. That’s the last thing you want to deal with after a long shift.
Also, factor in proximity to things like salons, cultural events, places of worship, and Black-owned businesses when choosing where to stay. This helps you connect with the local community.
Culture and Race
As a Black travel nurse, you have the opportunity to provide positive representation for your community. By excelling in your profession and forming professional bonds, you can challenge stereotypes and contribute to a more inclusive healthcare system.
Black nurses often face unconscious biases, lack of diversity in leadership roles, and culturally incompetent practices that contribute to disparities in treatment and health outcomes for patients of color.
But you don’t have to just accept that or throw your hands up and say, “It is what it is.”
It’s up to you – and all of us – to change what’s broken in healthcare. It might start with you learning how to get your employer to create safe spaces for Black nurses.
Fostering a more inclusive system requires actively addressing racism and discrimination through improved representation, cultural awareness training, and giving Black voices influence in policy and care models.
Your presence as a Black healthcare professional marks one step forward in that progress. You can also inspire and empower others who aspire to pursue nursing or similar careers.
Throughout BlackTravelNurses.com, we want you to know that we see you – and we value you.
So every week, you’ll find supportive and informative content about race and culture issues in healthcare, such as this article on Black Nurse-Friendly Cities: Where Culture and Profession Align.
Self-care, Lifestyle, and Balance
Maintaining your mental and physical well-being is crucial as a travel nurse. The nature of travel nursing can be demanding, both physically and emotionally.
To take care of your mental well-being, prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, and hobbies that bring you joy.
Stay connected with loved ones through regular communication and seek support from fellow travel nurses or support groups.
Additionally, ensure you have access to healthcare services and insurance coverage that extends to your travel nursing assignments.
Take preventive measures, such as getting regular check-ups and practicing good hygiene, to protect your physical health. Remember, taking care of yourself is essential to provide quality care to your patients.
Explore our content at BlackTravelNurses.com to learn about everything from staying fit on the go and balancing work, health, and your social life to integrating into a new community and doing different things to nourish your soul while away from home.
While the travel nurse lifestyle provides adventure and freedom, it can also be draining and isolating at times. Making self-care a priority is key to avoiding burnout.
Maintain consistent exercise regimens you can do anywhere like yoga, running, swimming, or
strength training. Take relaxing walks or bike rides to discover your new neighborhood.
Ask employers about wellness resources, mental health benefits, gym stipends, or mindfulness programs they offer.
Make social meetups a priority via apps like MeetUp to quickly find community and make friends in each new city.
Seek spiritual grounding through local places of worship. Locate a supportive religious community to connect you to Black culture.
Monitor your mental health closely and don’t hesitate to see a therapist via telehealth if needed. Set boundaries between work and personal time. Your overall health comes first.
Continuous learning is a key aspect of nursing. Being open to learning new things is a sure-fire way to keep you on top of your game and help you stand out from the pack.
As a Black person, you’ve no doubt heard the expression “You have to be twice as good to get half as much.”
Well, when it comes to your healthcare career, you always want to bring your A-game. Excellence matters.
If you feel you lack any education, credentials, or training, what’s stopping you from getting it?
Prioritize your learning and growth and watch your career opportunities expand.
Don’t hesitate to invest in yourself because you’re worth it, sis!
Want some advice to jumpstart your efforts to go to the next level? Read our advice on Upgrading Your Skills: Top Certifications for Travel Nurses.
Or perhaps you’ve been doing travel nursing for a while, and are thinking about transitioning. If so, you’ll definitely want to check out From Travel to Stationary: Transitioning Roles in Nursing.
Remember, being a Black travel nurse is a rewarding and challenging journey. This guide is here to provide you with the necessary tools to navigate every stage of your career with confidence and ease.
Resources and Support for Black Travel Nurses
As a Black travel nurse, it’s essential to have access to resources and support systems that understand your unique experiences and challenges.
For starters, get up to date on essential apps every tech-savvy nurse should know. Take some time also to dig into our recommendations for must-read books and podcasts for Black healthcare professionals.
After you do your solo thing, exploring resources on your own, it’s time to branch out for support from others.
Several professional organizations and online platforms cater specifically to Black travel nurses and nurses of diverse backgrounds. See our suggestions for the Top Travel Associations and Groups for Travel Nurses.
And don’t sleep on the power of making virtual connections too!
Just because you only know someone remotely – and they’re working in a different city or town today – that doesn’t mean you might not cross that person’s path tomorrow, or in the near future.
So follow our advice and check out the Digital Networks: Online Communities Every Black Travel Nurse Should Join.
These resources offer mentorship programs, networking opportunities, and educational resources that can support your professional growth and address any concerns you may have.
Additionally, connecting with black healthcare professionals in the destinations you travel to can provide valuable insights and a sense of belonging. Take advantage of these resources and our curated Resource Roundup to enhance your travel nursing experience and create a supportive community.
Developing a strong professional network is pivotal for travel nurses who are constantly on the move.
Attend yearly events such as the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) Annual Conference.
Follow nursing influencers on Instagram and LinkedIn for empowerment, inspiration, and career advice. Join Facebook groups for Black nurses and travelers.
Actively participate in digital communities like Minority Nurse Network to engage and share with fellow minority nurses nationwide.
Pursue mentorships with experienced Black nurses who can provide wisdom, insider job tips, and recommendations. Build rapport and keep them apprised of your career goals.
Leverage every contract as a networking opportunity to grow your professional contacts across the country.
Connect with the Black Nurses Rock community and join the National Black Nurses Association. Subscribe to Minority Nurse Magazine. Listen to podcasts such as The Nurse Keith Show and The Gypsy Nurse Podcast.
Follow Black nursing influencers (and others) on Instagram and TikTok like Nurse Alice, Nurse Blake, Nurse Nacole, and Nurse Nerdy.
Join digital networking platforms such as Nurses Lounge and the Nomad Health online community.
Refer to this guide anytime you need advice! Know you’ve got an entire community ready to support you.
Embracing Travel Nursing
As you can see, the benefits and opportunities tied to travel nursing are abundant.
You can make a significantly higher salary than working staff positions and have far more flexibility and adventure. You get to discover exciting new destinations while having your housing, license fees, and travel costs covered.
Assignments range from 8 to 26 weeks, allowing you to frequently change locations.
However, the travel nurse lifestyle also requires adaptability and independence. You’ll need to get accustomed to new environments, teams, procedures, and technology constantly. Being away from family and friends back home for long assignments can also be challenging.
Nonetheless, embracing the road less traveled as a Black travel nurse can be a transformative and fulfilling experience. Despite the challenges and stereotypes that may exist in the industry, your unique perspective and dedication to providing quality care can make a significant impact.
By understanding the compensation landscape, finding the right travel nursing agency, and building a supportive network, you can conquer the world of travel nursing.
Stay true to yourself, embrace diverse cultures, and seize opportunities for growth and adventure.
As a Black travel nurse, you have the power to shape the future of healthcare and inspire others to embrace their own journeys.
Travel nursing is not just a profession. It’s a way of life – whether you do it for just a year or two or you decide to make travel nursing your permanent mode of work.
At every step along the way, use this guide, and the resources found throughout BlackTravelNurses.com, to help you on your journey.
Good luck, sis. You got this!