How Travel Nurses Cope with Homesickness
3 Travel Nursing Tips on How to Deal with Homesickness
Most of the time we talk about the great parts of being a travel nurse, all the advantages that come your way, and the benefit of learning the different cultures within our great nation. And let’s be honest, it is fantastic. The food, the people, the wild outdoors, the beaches, the mountains, the waving wheat on the plains, the art shows, the museums, the learning, and the experience that a travel nurse gets to do makes it a job unlike any other.
No other profession consistently hires within its industry in such massive numbers (estimated between 25,000-50,000) and agreeable terms as travel nursing contracts. It even sounds kind of glamorous, jetting around the country while earning good money. And while all of that is generally true (except you know, nurse clogs generally can’t be classified as glamorous) that doesn’t mean we don’t also experience some darker less positive emotions about the job and the lifestyle sometimes.
Life as a travel nurse can also be lonely, and you may find yourself fighting feelings of homesickness. In fact, the more frequently you take travel contracts the less rooted to your “home” you may feel. Thereby making homesickness all the more baffling because when you go “home” it doesn’t feel like home.
So, what do travel nurses do with this feeling of loneliness or homesickness? Here’s our list of things you can do to counter these legitimate feelings:
1. Buddy Up with Another Travel Nurse
Yes, you can buddy up with another travel nurse and get assignments together. While it’s not typically possible to get assignments in the same facility, the same city or town is highly probable. Having a roommate who’s experiencing the same highs and lows of newness and displacement can go a long way to staving off feelings of loneliness. Every person is unique, but having a buddy who can understand what you’re feeling, even if they aren’t currently feeling it can be valuable.
Moreover, if you don’t know another travel nurse, see if you can recruit one of your nursing friends to the travel nurse life. We offer referral bonuses to our travel nurses, for more information about that bonus check out our benefits page.
We should note that buddy-ing up with another travel nurse for an assignment doesn’t mean you have to do assignments in the same city for the rest of your careers. Talk it over one contract at a time, look at where your geographic interests coincide and where they diverge. Be honest about when you’re ready for an assignment on your own, and expect and respect honesty from them in return.
2. Bring Your Family
If your partner/spouse isn’t a healthcare clinician who can also take on travel nurse contracts, that doesn’t mean you have to leave them at home. Remote work options have increased drastically since the coming of COVID-19. If your partner is unsure, they can talk to the HR department about their work. I’ve known some couples where the non-clinician partner has been able to negotiate or arrange with their jobs to work a cluster of weeks remotely and then a cluster in-office and back and forth. This was pre-pandemic, who knows now what your partners’ jobs will allow if they’re willing to approach and ask. There are also unknown financial opportunities in the gig world, whether it be Uber, Lyft, Taskrabbit, Thumbtack, UpWork, Fiverr, and food deliveries with any number of companies. That list of gig work is not exhaustive, the gig economy is only growing!
If you have kids, you can bring them with you as well. Some travel nurses are dedicated to the travel nursing life with their partners and kids and while they are in the minority statistically speaking in the travel nursing industry, their numbers aren’t to be ignored. If you want to consider this, awesome! However, you’ll need to plan, and you’ll need to take into consideration lots of factors that you wouldn’t otherwise.
Traveling as a family to assignment for example will likely take longer. You’ll have to consider daycare, schooling, and housing arrangements. There’s a whole sub-niche of RV travel nurse families. This solves the problems of transportation, furniture, and housing so if you’re at all interested, here are a few Facebook groups to join for support: Highway Hypodermics: RV Travelers, and Adventures in RV Travel Nursing.
3. Bring Your Pet or Get a Pet
If you’re not too sure about sharing your travel assignment with another person, perhaps you’d be better off sharing the time with an animal instead. Pets can bring companionship and joy to our everyday lives. While they’re doing all that, it turns out they’re good for our physical and mental health in specific and measurable ways, according to the nonprofit HelpGuide,
“Studies have shown that:
- Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
- People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
- Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
- Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
- Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.
- Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.”
Pets will even help you meet new people while you’re on assignment. In particular dog owners are likely to meet and connect with people in their neighborhood and communities because of the time spent outdoors for the dog’s exercise (the human’s too!) and bodily functions.
Let Us Know
If you decide you want to do any of the three options listed above, talk to your recruiter right away! Our recruiters will work with you to find a placement that’s right for you and your travel nurse buddy or spouse. We’ll give you advice about housing options if you want to bring your family or a pet. Bottom line, we’ll help you. If you are still trying to decide whether taking on a travel nursing job is right for you, check out our previous post, “Weighing the Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing.”