Travel nursing offers lucrative pay and new experiences. Maximizing your income means being smart about housing, food, and other expenses. The most important factor is location. Some states pay much more than others, but their cost of living is higher. On the other hand, facilities in destinations may offer high pay to attract nurses.
Take the Housing Stipend
How much can travel nurses make? A travel nurse’s salary depends on many factors, including location and facility needs. However, by working hard and staying on top of the latest trends in travel nursing, it’s possible to make a good income in this line of work. Taking the housing stipend is one way to increase your travel nurse’s salary. Your agency may try to talk you into reimbursing your housing costs, but taking the assistance is always better. Travel nurse stipends are non-taxable, leaving you with more money for your next assignment. When calculating how much to spend on your short-term housing, most experienced travelers recommend consuming at most a quarter of your paycheck. It will leave you with three-quarters of your pay for savings, expenses back home, and leisure activities. Budgeting for other costs, such as food, gas, and travel expenses, is also essential. By being smart with your money, you can maximize your earnings and make 2023 your best year ever as a travel nurse.
Keep Your Tax Home
With tax day looming on April 18, travel nurses must closely monitor all assets, like receipts and contracts. Hiring a tax professional can make the process easier and ensure you comply with state-specific laws, especially regarding travel nurse tax homes. The IRS defines your tax home as where you receive most U.S. mail and are registered to vote. For travel nurses, it’s also a location within 50 miles of your assignment. Travel nurses who don’t maintain a tax home may not be eligible for tax-free housing stipends or other parts of their compensation packages. To ensure you’re keeping your tax home, avoid staying at your assignment for over a year or 12 out of 24 months. It would be best if you also moved around between travel assignments. It helps you stay eligible for the 50-mile rule and keeps you eligible for tax deductions, like meal expenses, cellular costs, parking fees, tolls, uniforms, and mileage.
Whether you track your expenses on your own or with help from a mobile app, travel nurses need to save all receipts. The IRS could audit you anytime, so it’s best to be prepared. Filing taxes can be considerably less stressful if receipts are kept in an accessible and organized manner monthly or weekly.
Look for Strike Opportunities
While it may seem counterintuitive, working a travel nursing assignment during a strike can be highly lucrative. The hospital often needs nurses and will pay more to nurses willing to work during the labor dispute. These assignments are called “strike” or “crisis rate” jobs and come with unique challenges. Safety is The first challenge. Striking nurses may not look kindly on nurses who cross the picket line and work during a strike. They may view them as scabs, and crossing the line can be dangerous.
For this reason, travel nurses on a strike assignment must keep a low profile. Avoid discussing the strike with outsiders, and don’t wear your scrubs in public, if possible. Additionally, it is essential to know that strikes are open-ended, and your assignment could extend past the initial orientation.
It is also crucial to remember that you will likely be rooming with another nurse during a strike, and your family will not be able to join you in the hospital for visits. Because of this, it’s a good idea to have a close relationship with your nurse travel agency so they can help you navigate these difficult situations. Many agencies also offer bonuses for nurses who refer friends or colleagues to them, so take advantage of this opportunity.
Choose the Right Location
As a travel nurse, you have the power to choose your assignments. You can focus on locations that offer the best combination of adventure, salary, and personal growth. The secret is to do your homework and find a travel nursing agency to help you succeed. Choosing the right location will make or break your travel nursing experience. While letting your recruiter talk you into a job in an exotic area is tempting, think deeply about what you want out of your travel nursing experience. Do you want to see many different places and try living there before deciding to relocate permanently? Or do you want to live in a luxurious city with high-paying jobs and plenty of amenities?
Travel nurses are also eligible for several tax benefits to boost their earnings. Consult a tax professional if you need help determining which deductions to take.
Another way to maximize your travel nurse salary is to avoid destination locations where competition for jobs is fierce. New travel nurses are often eager to work in popular destinations. Still, those locations tend to pay less because so many travelers are vying for the position.