Jump to content

Homeless Nursing: How to save money on the road.

Published

Specializes in Adult and Pediatric level 1 Trauma. Has 10 years experience.

"The trick to travel nursing is how to save your budget while maintaining maximum comfort. I have figured my perfect option, I'm sure some others will think I'm crazy."

Homeless Nursing: How to save money on the road.

My name is Chris. I am a husband, father, and a registered nurse; originally from Florida but now out of Louisville. I want to talk to you today about a term I have come to homeless nursing. The trick to travel nursing is how to save your budget while maintaining maximum comfort. I have figured my perfect option, I'm sure some others will think I'm crazy for this.

When searching for your desired location the first step is finding the right hospital. I always look at the city I'm going to first. I review the hospital, determine if it is the right fit for my practice and experience. In my experience, Yelp reviews seem the perfect perfect determination over HCAHPS. If there are a lot of negative reviews about their ER, you can be sure that the docs and nurses don't pander. Angry people who bog down an ER with useless complaints are more likely to write their negative review over a toothache, than someones parent dying due to CHF or STEMI. I have never seen a nurse in any ER that was a jerk to someone with a "real" emergency.

Once you have found that location, start looking at crime maps. Research the surrounding area and look for activities that sound interesting to you (i.e. festivals, concerts, plays/Broadway) and compare the areas to your crime map. Unless you are going with someone that knows the area, stay away from the red zones (bad areas).

The next part of the plan is where I save money, and where others begin to think I'm insane. I don't bother looking for AirBnB or Craigslist room for rent ads. I live out of my car. I know, it sounds crazy. Before I became a RN, I worked doing finish carpentry as a side hobby. I have a 2013 Ford Explorer that functions as my home away from home. I started off by getting the internal measurements between the interior walls and between the driver seat (in my driving position) and the rear gate.

After measuring, I needed to decide how i wanted to build it. I chose to have a 12 inch space above the folded down seats for storage. This allows me to have access to everything I need during my extended time away from home. I use 1/2in plywood sheets and 2x4s with pocket hole screws to hold everything together in a platform style bed. EVA foam pads go under a memory foam mattress topper, put my sheets and blankets on and voila....instant hotel. I can drive as far as I want. I don't worry about hotels (sleeping in security available rest stops). It's lockable, secure with an alarm, has air conditioning when needed. The daytime AC gets a little cool, especially on my current assignment in Texas.

The stinky situation...How does one get clean without house or hotel? There are two options. Typically, hospitals have showers available for use by staff, either for mid shift grossness (abscess popped goo is in hair) or during a natural disaster that requires staff to stay for extended periods of time. I have found that most ER managers are pretty cool with me using the shower as long as i clean up. I typically choose another method. I use a nationally available gym chain locker room. I can go anywhere in the country that has this gym chain (I also do this in step one) and just wear shower shoes. I end up working out twice a day. I get into phenomenal shape while I'm away from home, have boundless energy for a 12 hour overnight, and take up some free time with cost efficient time spending.

I spend about 18-24 days away from home at a time, being able to spend some of the saved cash for flights. Laundromats equate to free charging station, people watching, and free wifi to download movies on Netflix. This is what I call balling on a budget! Now for monetary breakdown. AirBnB in nice location for 30 days at 25/night- $750. My method. Gym membership $20/mo + $30/mo laundry. Flights to and from here are about 270 in advance. I get to see my family every month, save the majority of my stipend, sleep in absolute comfort, all for $320 dollars per month! I hope you guys enjoyed my insight to cheap living on the road!

I'm experienced in both adult and pediatric level 1 trauma, I prefer the kiddos though. I've been a RN for 9 years, and travel for 4 years.

1 Article   1 Post

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

22 Comment(s)

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

While this style lifestyle might be an option for a guy, I don't really know how safe it would be for a single gal.

Am I just being paranoid? Or is this an antiquated view for today's society?

Argo

Specializes in Peri-Op. Has 10 years experience.

I have met a couple women that do it like this. In converted vans. I have thought about it but go with the rv with park membership that costs $300 yearly with free stays all year. I have to commute though. I hop between parks each month and oick locations with the membership parks within 45 miles.

I do a good bit of sleeping in my car, but never an entire 13 assignment! Sometimes a couple weeks beginning and end. I will point out that you have to prove housing expenses if you are audited. Argo's RV membership is probably sufficient proof. I always have some rent receipts during an assignment.

When on the road, a random gym is always a good place for a shower. One day free trial to see if you like the gym. I work out and take a shower. National chains, even the Y are interesting. But in the places I go, never is a national gym at two assignments. I used to sign up for a gym for three months at every assignment and was always able to negotiate $30 a month. But my workouts are getting shorter and more intense and using my body weight and playground equipment works well. Speaking of saving money!

danikyo

Has 2 years experience.

I agree, Guys have the advantage here, statistically.

I would totally cut corners like this, but my husband will be traveling with me and is pickier along with back issues....so we cannot go as cheap.

Thank you for the article. It was quite timely for me. I am an EMT-P about to head off to nursing school and have been considering the van life to get through school and cut costs. I'm just wondering how you survive in the heat as where I will be attending school will be pretty damn hot.

Basement parking garage.

Carbon monoxide poisoning comes to mind.

Have Nurse

Specializes in Med/Surg/Infection Control/Geriatrics. Has 25 years experience.

While this style lifestyle might be an option for a guy, I don't really know how safe it would be for a single gal.

Am I just being paranoid? Or is this an antiquated view for today's society?

No, you aren't paranoid. A woman alone sleeping in a vehicle is a target. I agree with you.

wondern, ASN

Has 20 years experience.

So you aren't actually homeless. You have a home and a family.

Are your kids older? Just thinking about your wife and a need for a break.

She must be a strong independent woman.

That's one way if it works for y'all. More power to you.

Thanks for the tips just in case I actually ever do become homeless or a travel nurse. Sure sounds interesting Broadway and all. :cat:

vetnrse

Specializes in Schoolnurse,homehealth,specialneeds,IHS. Has 30 years experience.

My name is Chris. I am a husband, father, and a registered nurse; originally from Florida but now out of Louisville. I want to talk to you today about a term I have come to homeless nursing. The trick to travel nursing is how to save your budget while maintaining maximum comfort. I have figured my perfect option, I'm sure some others will think I'm crazy for this.

When searching for your desired location the first step is finding the right hospital. I always look at the city I'm going to first. I review the hospital, determine if it is the right fit for my practice and experience. In my experience, Yelp reviews seem the perfect perfect determination over HCAHPS. If there are a lot of negative reviews about their ER, you can be sure that the docs and nurses don't pander. Angry people who bog down an ER with useless complaints are more likely to write their negative review over a toothache, than someones parent dying due to CHF or STEMI. I have never seen a nurse in any ER that was a jerk to someone with a "real" emergency.

Once you have found that location, start looking at crime maps. Research the surrounding area and look for activities that sound interesting to you (i.e. festivals, concerts, plays/Broadway) and compare the areas to your crime map. Unless you are going with someone that knows the area, stay away from the red zones (bad areas).

The next part of the plan is where I save money, and where others begin to think I'm insane. I don't bother looking for AirBnB or Craigslist room for rent ads. I live out of my car. I know, it sounds crazy. Before I became a RN, I worked doing finish carpentry as a side hobby. I have a 2013 Ford Explorer that functions as my home away from home. I started off by getting the internal measurements between the interior walls and between the driver seat (in my driving position) and the rear gate.

After measuring, I needed to decide how i wanted to build it. I chose to have a 12 inch space above the folded down seats for storage. This allows me to have access to everything I need during my extended time away from home. I use 1/2in plywood sheets and 2x4s with pocket hole screws to hold everything together in a platform style bed. EVA foam pads go under a memory foam mattress topper, put my sheets and blankets on and voila....instant hotel. I can drive as far as I want. I don't worry about hotels (sleeping in security available rest stops). It's lockable, secure with an alarm, has air conditioning when needed. The daytime AC gets a little cool, especially on my current assignment in Texas.

The stinky situation...How does one get clean without house or hotel? There are two options. Typically, hospitals have showers available for use by staff, either for mid shift grossness (abscess popped goo is in hair) or during a natural disaster that requires staff to stay for extended periods of time. I have found that most ER managers are pretty cool with me using the shower as long as i clean up. I typically choose another method. I use a nationally available gym chain locker room. I can go anywhere in the country that has this gym chain (I also do this in step one) and just wear shower shoes. I end up working out twice a day. I get into phenomenal shape while I'm away from home, have boundless energy for a 12 hour overnight, and take up some free time with cost efficient time spending.

I spend about 18-24 days away from home at a time, being able to spend some of the saved cash for flights. Laundromats equate to free charging station, people watching, and free wifi to download movies on Netflix. This is what I call balling on a budget! Now for monetary breakdown. AirBnB in nice location for 30 days at 25/night- $750. My method. Gym membership $20/mo + $30/mo laundry. Flights to and from here are about 270 in advance. I get to see my family every month, save the majority of my stipend, sleep in absolute comfort, all for $320 dollars per month! I hope you guys enjoyed my insight to cheap living on the road!

If you're crazy then I'm crazier. I've been living out of my van for 8 mo. The first 4 mo entailed job search when I moved out of state. Packed up my house and got rid of stuff and out the rest in storage with the idea to get a place and job. Unfortunately the state I moved to had neither for me that was affordable and the home care and school nursing that I've done for yrs had different requirements than here. So it was financial assistance and food bank for a few months until I finally landed or job. Enough to get me by and pay bills. No rent though and so by that time even though by now I could probably afford a room rental for $500, I got so used to van squatting and hey saving rent $ that I just continue van living. I have my parking spots , wake up in. Different places. Its comfortable and my dog is w me . Gas and van maintenance is my rent which comes to $400 mo. My other bills like car insurance pet insurance vet bills and dental, credit cards cell phone and storage is another $800 . so without paying rent I have to make sure I generate at least $1200/mo for bills. Planet fitness for shower at $10/mo totally worth it. Don't need laundry. Hand washing a few items at a time in sinks at gym or work works just fine. So to live comfortably $2000/mo is my income.. So I can stuff a little at a time in savings account. I have 0 retirement or assets. I will be living on SSI for retirement next yr which means I get to work less. Like just needing $1000 /mo. I may splurge this summer though and pull my camper out of storage to campground for $350/mo. So who can afford rent after that? Not me. Especially after working my butt off for yrs to pay $2000/mo rent and end up being so penniless , still having go to food bank

vetnrse

Specializes in Schoolnurse,homehealth,specialneeds,IHS. Has 30 years experience.

So to Sum it up, I'm in no hurry to ever pay rent again with landlord s down my back and sifting hard earned $ out of me. Yes you give up the luxery of having a home to move about in and get all essential functions done in one place ... But ya gotta give something up to get something back. I choose this life. Thankyou. And good luck to you Chris as well.

No, you aren't paranoid. A woman alone sleeping in a vehicle is a target. I agree with you.

I agree as well. At least she is a target if she has a sign on top of her car that says helpless female inside!

Do you have any idea how many cars someone who might want to take advantage of such a situation would have to check before finding someone asleep in one? Tens or probably hundreds of thousands of cars and then odds on it will be a male. Even if such a person gets lucky, they would also have to be very stupid to break into an occupied car. Lots of guns out there no matter the gender (if one could even tell the gender of the sleeping occupant without a sign).

All things considered, driving is a considerably higher risk. So is sleeping in a hotel.

vetnrse

Specializes in Schoolnurse,homehealth,specialneeds,IHS. Has 30 years experience.

More likely to be attacked at home or jogging. Key is be aware of who and what situation is around you. . Leave if questionable. Lay low. Stay quiet. Don't talk to strangers if they seem strange,like mama said. Move with tough confidence not like a victim. Carry pepper spray (Ive never had to use it) . Keep a dog. They alert you on things u cant hear whether at home or vehicle.These are tips for every day living whether living in a van or house.

Argo

Specializes in Peri-Op. Has 10 years experience.

With the rate of auto theft in downtown BIG city USA I would think you are less likely to have an auto theft issue if your sleeping in the car, man or woman. Walking around SF after working a late shoft or when going in for a early shift I regularly will see people sleeping in their cars in plain sight.

I have slept in SF in the backseat of my truck a solid dozen times. I park next to the hospital in the street, usually because of a 11-11 followed by 6-6 shift to save from the loss of sleep due to commute. I have never had an issue. I would not try to do it on the weekend as that seems to be the higher car theft time.

There was a travel nurse who tried that here, She was let go from her contact. They did not like or approve of her using hospital facilities to shower in.

I know people who do the RV route and save money amd enjoyed. If you have a big enough one you can always invite another traveler to share and split

cost.

DowntheRiver

Specializes in Urgent Care, Oncology. Has 6 years experience.

I agree as well. At least she is a target if she has a sign on top of her car that says helpless female inside!

Do you have any idea how many cars someone who might want to take advantage of such a situation would have to check before finding someone asleep in one? Tens or probably hundreds of thousands of cars and then odds on it will be a male. Even if such a person gets lucky, they would also have to be very stupid to break into an occupied car. Lots of guns out there no matter the gender (if one could even tell the gender of the sleeping occupant without a sign).

All things considered, driving is a considerably higher risk. So is sleeping in a hotel.

Are you female? Because from a female perspective it is (usually) totally different. I've been followed to my vehicle before many times. I just asked my husband and he can't think of a single time this has happened to him.

When car camping, you walk to your car. You simply park. Then the odds I spoke of are in effect.

Everyone is most vulnerable on foot. I feel much safer even as a guy if I'm on wheels especially going through unsafe neighborhoods. With wheels, those who could have bad intent only have seconds to carry out anything. I've been stabbed on foot (while unlocking my bicycle), but never hassled on skates, bikes, or in cars. Even one's house is subject to home invasion, so you are responsible to look after your own safety at all times. It is just a question of lowering the risk, and I can tell you sleeping in hotels is far less safe than sleeping in a car, unless you put a sign on the car, or for some reason leave the car and walk back.

My biggest fear sleeping in a car is being woken by police, something that has happened a number of times. Hassle as they always take ten minutes to run your license and tell you to park somewhere else (although it is almost never against the law). My own fault, as I like to park in dark quiet places where I can be easily notice as being out of place - like the end of a dead end rural road. Never happened when I park in a neighborhood with other cars.