New to travel nursing and traveling with small children.. Advice please!

  1. Ever since I graduated nursing school traveling has been a dream for me. It never seemed to be the right time and life just seemed to happen making it seemingly even more impossible. Now, a husband and two small children later I have finally convinced my husband to leave his 70+ hrs/week job to be a stay at home dad and travel the country. My children are 2 1/2 and 1 month old (crazy, I know) and I won't be taking an assignment for at least a couple more months, but I am seeking any and all advice about traveling with small children. I am concerned about the emotional impact of frequent moves especially for the 2 year old as well as moving away from family and friends. Also, any advice on the ins and outs of traveling in general with children is greatly appreciated! Thanks!
  2. Visit L&DNurseLMW profile page

    About L&DNurseLMW

    Joined: Sep '12; Posts: 8


  3. by   GleeGum
    YAY!! Good for you!

    I just finished 2 and a half years of travel nursing with my husband (stay at home dad) and son who is now 4. We started when my son was 20 months and we did 7 jobs during just over 2 years, so that's a lot of moving around. It was such a dream to do it and I'm SO glad we did. Totally worth the work.

    We drove cross country 4 (yes really 4) times without a DVD player. I recommend don't even start with one it's hard to go back!

    It's a little expensive but I recommend doing COBRA health insurance so that you keep good insurance, assuming you have good insurance, until you find a travel company you think you will stay with so you don't have to switch. I can talk more about this if you want.

    We knew when we started we would only do it for a year or two or three, depending on how our son did.

    Get a national membership to a children's museum so you can have reciprocal free admission in a lot of places! Get a library card at every location. Just send yourself a postcard before you arrive and that's usually all you need. And the postcards are fun to keep.

    Have a smart phone - for so many reasons.

    We traveled with very little even few toys. When we arrived at a new location we would get toys at a thrift store and given them away at the end. We always had some special toys that we brought no matter what.

    We have so many wonderful memories and no regrets on going.

    PM me!
  4. by   L&DNurseLMW
    Great ideas! I would have never thought of the toy idea. I'm sure getting to go every few months and pick out toys is great fun in itself! It's so nice to have someone in a very similar situation to mine say, "we did it and it was great." There is just so much apprehension and anxiety to go along with all the excitement. One of my biggest concerns is moving the kids away from the grandparents. Both sets adore them and spend quite a bit of time with them. I'm concerned about heartbreak on both ends. Did you experience anything similar? Also, we are keeping a residence at home so we will be able to receive the housing stipend. Did you do that as well? We own a home currently and are juggling whether to sell and lease an apartment, rent it out, or just leave it vacant during assignments. How are your kids doing now that you've stopped traveling? Any advice on that transition? I know I've asked a million questions here I'm just so excited to have found someone who's done this! I added you as a contact, but didn't see an option for PM. Thanks so much for your advice!
  5. by   GleeGum
    Of course you will have some apprehension, that's understandable. you are taking yourself and 3 others on a crazy adventure. We knew we might come home broke, knew that there might not be consecutive jobs, knew that it wouldn't be all easy, but we also knew we needed to do it. We didn't want to get to 50 years old and wonder, what if. We did not own a house so that made it easier. We did not have grandparents that babysat, but they were definitely sad. We knew it would only be for a year, or two or three, no more.

    We did go through our savings, but of the 2+years I was without a job for a total of 12 weeks (pickings were slimmer then).

    If you want to maintain a tax home you can't rent it out, but go to TravelTax - Started by a former traveler, for travelers for other info on that. He's great.

    Advice on transition, not sure. We didn't make it a big deal, but did talk about it as an exciting thing. talked about the good things to look forward too. My mom visted us in 5 out of 7 locations, that was nice. Some kids grow up with other languages, my son grows up with a bigger world view. He's very outgoing, easy to talk to people, likes adventures. It's worked out well for us. But now the regular routine has been just as important as the travel was.

    We are also church going folks and we worked hard to pick a church before we arrived and it usually worked out and went regularly. We tried to select a church and housing also based on location to public transporation also since we are a one car family.

    We sent detailed emails home to family (besides phone calls) and they are all now printed out for us to remember.
  6. by   L&DNurseLMW
    When you went without a job for those 12 weeks what were the circumstances? Were there a lack of jobs, licensing issues, etc? When we had my first son I went part time to stay at home with him most of the time and between that and being on maternity leave our savings have became pretty meager. With that being said it's a huge concern that I work consistently especially since we are giving up my husband's income. What were some of the areas you traveled to and what did you/didn't you like about them? We are church going folks as well.
  7. by   BluntForceTrauma
    In this economy, I don't think it would be a good idea for your husband to quit his job...too much of a risk. I've heard of people having to go a while without a decent job...sure there are several out there, but pay isn't always the best.
  8. by   dance4life
    After my husband was laid off last year and I was working agency getting cancelled all the time. There were just no permanent jobs in my area and I looked for 3 years! We packed up and left so I could do Travel Nursing. My son is 3 and it has been a great ride.

    I like the Toy suggestion I never though of it!

    Although, I try to keep close to my storage room so I can drop off things and pick them up when needed.

    We did go cross country once and it was a great experience, but I am not sure we want to take the drive again. We did it before we had our son and it was easier to drive all over the place in my opinion.

    Usually, I try to find my own sublet, because staying in a hotel was not easy. Especially, during one assignment I worked nights and there really wasn't much activities to do where we were staying.

    I was lucky to find a place in NYC this summer. That was my best assignment yet. I could of stayed longer, because they wanted to renew my contract. But my sublet was up and well it is really hard to find a place to stay in that area. I really would of needed more permanence with employment. And... some agencies just don't have living stipends in that area and try to low ball you with their hourly rates.

    Some of the permanent nurses think it is "strange" but you know I have to support my family and well I think he is fine with all the adventures he has had in the past year. If I find a place I want to stay, they are hiring, etc... then, I can settle down. But, it seems not so many places are still hiring these days.
    Last edit by dance4life on Oct 9, '12
  9. by   GleeGum
    Hi Dance4life, So good to hear someone having a similar adventure with a similar adventure. We were in NYC also and I agree about the housing. Not sure where you are, but I had some job offers in California. Our driving cross country was best when we did 8 hours/450 miles a day. It took us 8 days with a one day stop in the middle with family. And no DVD! I did make a lego box that could stay on his lap. and he insisted I make him some curtains on his side which I did with bungee cords and pillow slip covers. We did some Kumon books and sat some in the back with him. he didn't always require interaction but he enjoyed the company.

    Hi L&D, It may be hard but I would definitely have some savings in reserve. Have you ever listened to Dave Ramsey? He recommends 6 months of living expenses for anyone. as far as why the gaps - one was because it was my second job and wanted to get to cali or colorado but jobs were still scarce then. the 2nd time i refused the flu vaccine and it was Christmas time and not many jobs available.

    I have two favorites - Stanford in Cali (and awesome church there too) and Central Coast California. ohhh we love it there!!
  10. by   GleeGum
    I just remembered another important thing we did to keep in touch with family. We bought digital photo frames that could receive pictures by email (wifi is needed). It was great.
  11. by   swansonmail
    Loved your insightful replies! I am also about to start traveling and have 2 kids and a supportive hubby to do this with...the girls are homeschooled, so no problem there. My biggest issue is the health insurance. You mentioned COBRA. Is this provided by your agency? Pardon my ignorance...thanks!
  12. by   GleeGum
    that sounds awesome swansonmail. good for you.

    yes health insurance is a big issue because it is so expensive to begin with and then if you don't have good coverage, yikes! COBRA can be great if you already have a good health insurance, but it would have run us 1200 or more a month. I ended up with American Mobile's insurance and paying for the family coverage (single coverage was free) but that was about $800 a month. and if you go to the doctor, there were a lot of things we still had to pay for after our deductible when we did go to the doctor. Also, COBRA is only for 18? or so months.

    The other issue to consider is each agency will offer their own insurance. you can take it and if you like it, then take their cobra. in my own case, my health insurance with my staff job before i started traveling was so great that even though the COBRA was expensive, in 20/20 hindsight it would have likely saved us money and annoyance, if we had stuck with it instead of going to the first agency's insurance, paying their cobra as we overlapped time to the next job and then starting theirs.... etc. some travel agencies have their insurance start on the 1st day or perhaps 1st or 15th of the month depending on the coverage you choose. Anyway, it's an expensive and sometimes annoying detail. And in our opinion it was really important to have continuous and good coverage on the road with the family.

    ps. cobra as described by the department of labor is this "[FONT=tahoma]COBRA generally requires that group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees in the prior year offer employees and their families the opportunity for a temporary extension of health coverage (called continuation coverage) in certain instances where coverage under the plan would otherwise end." in other words you pay to extend your health insurance by your previous employer but there is a maximum amount of time you can do this.
  13. by   NedRN
    COBRA is simply a federal law that allows continuation of your employer insurance for as long as 18 months. The ex-employee must opt in, and the former employer has to notify you of your ability to do that. The costs are identical to what the employer is paying for your insurance plus a 2 percent administration fee for the employer to do the paperwork - you pay the premium to the employer and they pay the insurance company. However, it is common for much of the costs to be hidden from the employee - generally the employer pays the lion's share of the premium with a smaller deduction from your paycheck. There is generally sticker shock when you see the entire cost of your current group health plan.

    Insurance through agencies is usually no where near as good as your perm employer for good reasons. For one, agencies have to look carefully at per traveler cost and marketing (attracting travelers). They get a fixed hourly bill rate from hospitals for your services and out of that they have to pay your hourly, travel, per diem, housing. Good group health costs a lot - and would reduce your other compensation, to the point where they would not be competitive with other agencies - at least in apparent compensation (the kind you can put in the bank).

    If you find an agency with a decent and affordable plan, you can COBRA that plan should you switch agencies. You are paying for it no matter what, right? Doesn't matter if there is a hidden subsidy as a traveler, it is coming out of your pay either way. As far as the employer being required to offer COBRA, yes, if they have 20 FTE employees, they are required. You might be surprised how many agencies fall below this threshold though.

    When it is just a single traveler, you can cut corners as long as catastrophic cases are covered. You don't need zero copay doctor's visits. When you have a family, things are more complicated. Adding family members to full cost group health adds up fast. And it all falls on the shoulders of usually just one wage earner, and travelers do not have sick pay and PTO, making illness and injuries much more serious. If you are relatively young and have few or no pre-existing conditions, private insurance is substantially cheaper than group health plans. But you might want to consider extra disability and out of work insurance to cover your family.

    All that gets expensive, or requires a lot of savings to travel safely with a family. Again, if you are young, you can weigh the risks and go without. Obviously, insurance is not worth the money. Until you need it! Tough choices, weighing the fun and lifestyle of traveling against the security and stagnation of a staff position. Hard enough for the single traveler, but it really gets tough if you are responsible for a family.

    Assuming the ACA holds and is fully implemented in 2014, good insurance may be more accessible and affordable. No matter what, you have to consider if you can afford not to have health insurance.
  14. by   missnurse01
    We traveled for three years all over the country. It was great for us. We have 3 Kids. We also homechschooled. Kids really enjoyed it and there was so much to see and do with them. We choose the stipend and found our own housing , just short term. We had one townhome and the rest were houses.

    Good luck ! It will be awesome