It’s no secret that work/life balance and flexibility are some of the major benefits of travel nursing, and it’s a perk most travel nurses aren’t shy about taking advantage of. One of the most popular tactics for leveraging this benefit is taking extended breaks between travel nursing contracts during the summer or winter holidays, rather than anxiously hoping and praying their current supervisor grants their multiple requests for time off.
However, this trend can work both ways – clinicians who are willing and able to work during peak holiday times can also use this trend to their advantage to land a travel nursing assignment in some of the best locations and healthcare facilities this holiday season!
With the influx of PTO requests coming in from their staff nurses, healthcare facilities tend to lean on nurse staffing agencies to fill those gaps, creating more open travel nursing needs overall. You can leverage this opportunity to cross items off your travel bucket list, visit long-distance family members and friends or even “migrate” to a region based on your climate preferences.
Okay, we still have no control over the weather, but you CAN choose where you end up working based on your climate preferences. Here are a few of our favorite places to work and play for the holidays:
Pennsylvania – Race snowmobiles through Allegheny National Forest, saddle up for a winter horseback ride through the Pocono Mountains, or head to the Bethlehem Christmas Market for a one-of-a-kind holiday shopping experience.
Utah – Surround yourself with snow, mountains, and skiing in Park City and Arches National Park, or check out the majestic Ice Castle Display in Heber Valley.
Colorado – In addition to the ice skating and skiing in Evergreen Lake, Vail, or Crested Butte, Colorado also boasts over 25 hot springs throughout the state. If shopping and dining is more appealing than hitting the slopes, Fort Collins is worth visiting as well.
West Virginia – Go hiking and sledding in Blackwater Falls State Park; if hitting the slopes is more your thing, you can go skiing or snowboarding at Snowshoe Mountain or Canaan Valley.
Texas – Plenty of nature trails for hiking & biking throughout the state (Big Bend State Park), the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area or the Riverwalk in San Antonio both have an abundance of museums, shopping and pedestrian areas great for exploring solo or meeting new people.
Louisiana – Lots of shopping, dining, and sight-seeing in New Orleans’ French Quarter, the Annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival in north Louisiana, and home to some of the best fresh Gulf Coast seafood you can find
Florida – It’s status as a tourist state makes this one of the more traveler-friendly locales with coveted attractions like Disney World, Augustine’s historic district, or one of their many beaches (check out the Cocoa Beach Surfing Santas on Christmas Eve!)
South Carolina – Charleston, Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head Island have less severe winters. Coupled with state parks and historical sites throughout the area, there’s something there for everyone.
Of course, this does vary by facility based on their needs and supplemental staffing budget. A few levers facilities/agencies can pull to make pay packages more appealing to secure nursing staff throughout the holidays:
Higher bill rates due to higher demand – e.g. flu/COVID season, planned staff nurse PTO needs for winter vacations, visiting relatives
OT/Guaranteed hours – Due to increased frequency of unplanned staffing gaps due to emergencies, illness, vacations, etc.
Holiday bonuses/increased holiday hourly rate – Some facilities employ one or both tactics for incentivizing nurses to voluntarily cover holiday shifts (varies per facility).
Reconnect with family/friends – If you have family members or long-distance friends living nearby, use these few months to reconnect and spend more time with them!
Make new connections (professional & personal) – Most healthcare facilities find ways to take part in holiday traditions like decorating, exchanging Secret Santa gifts, or organizing a potluck. Just because you’re there as a traveler doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join in on the fun! Even if you feel like an outsider at first, engaging in these festivities with the staff nurses (and other travelers) is a great way to build camaraderie and form lasting friendships. If your fellow nurses still seem to be giving you the cold shoulder, you may want to read this helpful blog post from our Director of Nursing, Angela Tortora.
Looking to meet new people outside the facility? – Even the smallest of communities have an uptick in holiday-centric events, allowing you plenty of opportunities to meet and mingle with the locals and fellow travelers.
Spiritual opportunities & volunteerism – Travel nursing assignments create the perfect opportunity to discover new places to worship or volunteer. There are many valid and important reasons for sticking with the same church or volunteer organization in your hometown, but exploring new avenues to do this during your travel nursing assignment can be a refreshing experience, especially during the holidays.
>> Click here to view the original version of this article published November 7, 2022 on The Gypsy Nurse website as part of our ongoing partnership with The Gypsy Nurse.