If you’ve been weighing the pros and cons of becoming a travel nurse, but you’re worried about how much time travel nurses get — don’t worry! You have a few options when it comes to taking time for yourself. In this article, we dive into:
- How to take time off during travel nursing contracts
- How to take time off between travel nurse contracts
- Tips for taking time off
How to take time off during travel nursing contracts
Can you take time off during an assignment? The answer is yes — but with a few caveats. Taking time off as a travel nurse requires strategic planning and communication. There are two ways to go about this:
Talk to your agency and recruiter
Your recruiter is your biggest advocate when creating your travel nursing contract. Talk to them about any time you want to take off if it’s during the assignment. You can also reach out to your agency and see if they have an existing PTO policy for you to take paid time off. Smaller requests for time off, such as two to three days, can often be coordinated with the facility once an assignment has started.
When requesting time off during a contract, it’s best practice to offer to compensate for any missed time to minimize the impact on the facility.
How to take time off between travel nurse contacts
Instead of tweaking your contract to take time off, the easiest solution is to take time off between contracts. For example, if you know you want to start an assignment in early September, but you have a pre-planned vacation for mid-September, maybe set your start date for when you’re back from vacation if it works for the facility. Otherwise, look at other assignments with similar pay but later start dates.
While many travel nurses try to work back-to-back assignments to maximize pay, doing this every time is not recommended. Give yourself at least two to three weeks between assignments to see the sights in your area or simply rest and relax.
The best part is that you don’t need approval for this! Double-check your end date and start date on both of your contracts, ensuring you have enough time in between and you’re good to go! It’s as easy as that.
Tips for taking time off
Now that you know you can take time off during and between contracts, here are some best practices to follow:
Pay attention to the dates on your contracts
If you plan to take time off between contracts, always check the end and start dates on both contracts so there’s no miscommunication when you’re starting. This way, you can completely enjoy your time off or plan your move to your next adventure.
When you’re planning to take substantial time off during a contract (more than three days), the best thing you can do is over-communicate. Tell your agency and recruiter, and make sure that time off is added to your contract. If you’re taking a day or two or need a sick day, talk to your facility and manager as soon as possible so they can work with you to make up the shift or plan around it.
As a travel nurse, your main job is to fill in the gaps of the perm staff. Don’t be surprised if the facility doesn’t approve your time off and be patient as they work through scheduling. Remember — the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success is to plan your time off between assignments.
Travel nursing is such a rewarding career but can be draining. Plan ahead so your time off is between assignments so you can maximize your pay and make an outstanding impression on the facility and agency. Good luck!