Travel Nursing with Children
There are tons of anecdotes out there about RNs who travel with pets, friends, spouses, and significant others. But traveling with young children is a whole different ballgame. Sometimes a traveling nurse wants the whole family to come along for an adventure. Sometimes traveling with the family is an ideal transition strategy when a spouse is suddenly transferred for work.
But, whatever the motivation, traveling with children is possible! Your travel nursing agency should be able to help you arrange for housing and assist you with the special requirements that come with bringing younger family members along on an assignment.
Things to Consider when Travel Nursing with Children
Your Kids' Ages
Infants and pre-school children obviously require full time nurturing and care. This generally means that you will need to travel with another adult who will provide that care. You may be traveling with a spouse who works remotely and is able to care for a young child. Or you may be traveling with or to someone who is a full-time caregiver. Not surprisingly, it is difficult to set up reliable long-term childcare when you're on the road, so it is useful to have a caregiver along for the ride. But make sure you can still have a little free time of your own. Ask your new coworkers if they can recommend a reliable babysitter, and get away for a few hours once you're settled in.
Children who are in grade school -- all the way up to teens -- can have some amazing experiences when they go along on an assignment. Traveling opens the mind and sets young people up for a lifetime of adventure -- and a certain degree of fearlessness. They'll see and do things that their schoolmates only experience on the internet. Some school-age children who travel are home-schooled, usually by an adult family member. Some traveling RNs take their older children along when they are on summer break. Great way to get in a working vacation! Ask your employer if they will allow you take a 3 month break to travel; believe it or not, a select few will.
Depending on your kids' ages and preferences, the car trip to an assignment is likely to take a little longer than if you were on your own (no driving for 10 hours without a break). Just re-adjust your schedule and your mindset. Stop and smell the roses! There are some pretty cool roadside attractions and photo ops along the way.
Finding an Ideal Location for Travel Nursing with Kids
This differs a bit for everyone - some people want to travel to be near extended family. Some want to visit locations that will keep the kids interested and busy. Metro areas and their surrounding neighborhoods can be great for this (Los Angeles, Dallas).
If you're a history buff, places of national significance like Washington DC are a wonderful learning experience for families. And there aren't that many kids who will complain about being near a beach. Take them to Tampa / St Petersburg or Wilmington.
Deciding What Kind of Housing You Need
If you choose to have your travel nursing agency arrange for your housing, make sure you tell them what you need. They will be resourceful and find accommodations that suit you and your family. If the agency takes care of your housing, it's one less thing for you to worry about. If you arrange for your own housing - which many people do - you will have total control of your lodgings. The more populous an area, the more options you will have with home sharing services or long-term stays. Many healthcare professionals take their homes with them on the road, whether it's an RV, trailer, or converted bus. If you travel in an RV, you'll also have the added benefit of providing some consistency for your kids -- and you, too!
In short, traveling with kids is not only possible, it can be a wonderful experience for the whole family. It does require planning, packing everything the kids need, scheduling daycare (or nightcare) in advance, brainstorming fun things to do, and logistical tasks like making sure your insurance covers you on the road. There may be some squabbles and tantrums along the way, but it will definitely be worth it in the end.