Right, I think travel is basically like any other kind of agency job, with maybe more benefits, depending on the travel agency. Remember, everything is about supply and demand. Right now, agencies are getting less work because more SAHM RNs have gone back to work because of supplemental income being needed, husband lost his job, etc. Agency nurses have also gone and taken permanent positions to avoid ending up with no job and no income. So more hospital employees means less needs for agency/travel.
That being said, salary anywhere is determined by where you are, as well as your experience.
If I take an assignment in NYC, I would expect to make much more than if I am working in rural Georgia. Cost of living is obviously much more in NYC, so you need more money to live. Same goes for California, DC, etc.
And different hospitals have different rates, even if in the same city. Again, depends on supply vs. demand. I could choose to take a position at a more prestigious hospital that may pay more OR less because they A)Have more people wanting to work for them, so they can offer lower pay until someone takes the bait B)Have more funds available to give higher pay.
Now all that being said, if working in the SAME hospital, I would expect you to get higher pay with your 25yrs experience than I would with my 3yrs. But then again, if you work in psych, and I get offered a position in ICU for instance (wouldn't happen, just hypothetical
), then I would expect the pay difference to be less significant.