I just started traveling this year. Do I make BANK? No; technically my gross income is about the same as my last staff job. But now I get to go where I want ALMOST as often as I want. I'm not tied to my apartment and the rent, I'm not tied to my job, or any other responsibilities that keep one tied to a place. Everything is tied to ME instead. And I'm still not squandering all my money trying to survive.
After nursing school, I barely had enough money the change the timing belt on my car (no I'm not a mechanic don't make fun of me) and my credit card was maxed out. Now I'm about to buy a brand new car (not a BMW or anything but a new nice NOT beater car), I actually have some money in my saving account, and I'm making great strides in paying off that debt. Why? Because being a travel nurse, I'm finding it much easier to make that same income and bank it. If you sit down and crunch the numbers after you get a couple offers, you'll see.
I also have noticed I'm genuinely a lot happier this year in my career. I'm even taking it upon myself to work on my OCN and I actually feel motivated to do it. A part of me wonders if it's because I'm not as involved in the politics of the hospital. My last two contracts haven't even been great, really; but I come to work, take GREAT care of my patients, chart, make jokes with my colleagues, and leave. I'm focused on why I became a nurse and that's it. I've made some great friends in my last two contracts. A patient who back in her day was a travel nurse gave me some advice. "You can handle ANYTHING for 13 weeks." You have a good specialty and good experience, just keep an open mind and go with the flow