Can Travel Nurses Choose Where They Go?

The Travel Guide for Travel Nurses

As the demand for healthcare workers has increased, so has the need for travel nurses to travel across the U.S. But how far do travel nurses travel, and can you choose?

As a travel nurse you open a wide range of career options, healthcare settings, cultures, and locations to work in. But there are considerations you’ll need to make, particularly if you’re new to travel nursing.

Here, we’ll look at the best places to get an assignment and what you need to think about to ensure you get plentiful travel nurse jobs for your professional and personal advantage.

Top Locations

Let’s look at a small selection of the most popular destinations for travel nurses:

Anchorage, Alaska

Mild climate with stunning views of mountains and natural beauty, as well as plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, and hiking.

Anchorage is also home to many restaurants that offer a huge variety of cuisines from all over the world, culture nightlife venues that offer live music, dance clubs, bars, and more.

Maui, Hawaii

An abundance of natural beauty and tranquility, plus three major hospitals with high-quality providers that offer competitive pay rates and state-of-the-art technology. Beautiful scenery combined with the medical opportunities give this island paradise the perfect combination for travel nurses.

Austin, Texas

Austin’s high density of healthcare facilities makes it a magnet for skilled nurses in a nurse shortage.

It has an abundance of culture and entertainment opportunities with its bustling night life scene and active outdoor attractions.

Dallas, Texas

Dallas is a great location with an abundance of nursing jobs, high-quality living, and cultural opportunities. It offers a vibrant city life and easy access to different parts of the country.

Denver, Colorado

Particularly appealing if you’re a travel nurse who likes winter sports or skiing. Colorado is also a compact state, reducing complex licensing requirements and easy transitions for you.

San Francisco, California

High cost of living, but with higher-than-average salaries, with beautiful Victorian and natural sights, while offering some of the most exciting healthcare technical innovations from Silicon Valley.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is always a popular place for travel nurses, with a relatively low cost of living but with plentiful things to do in your spare time. Whether it’s a concert, casino, or recreational day excursions, you won’t be disappointed working and playing here.

New York City

You’ll be (temporarily) living in the Big Apple minus the skyscraping rent. It’s expensive to play here, but you’ll be offered some of the highest-paying salaries to keep you going. Take a break in Central Park with beautiful sights on one side and incredible architecture and dazzling businesses on the other. There’s plenty to do here in your spare time! And it’s home to some of the most well-known medical centers in the country.

Burbank, California

Here, you’ll be in the center of entertainment, the home to television studios like Disney and NBC. This location has great weather and a glamorous feel all year round and offers one of the highest-paying salaries to boot.


We’ve given you a taste of some awesome destinations. Some other incredibly popular locations for travel nurses include:

  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • San Jose, California
  • Santa Barbara, California
  • Seattle, Washington


Before you select your favorite location from our list and apply, take a moment to reflect on yourself and what you really need to succeed and be happy. It’s crucial to the endurance and enjoyability of your travel nursing career to think about the following factors:

1.     How Close to Home Do You Want or Need to Be?

You may want to go far and wide to settle that hungry travel bug, or you may be willing to go as far as you need to for the higher salary. But whatever your reasons, what is your situation at home? Think about:

  • Family and friends – Are you OK with not seeing them in person for weeks at a time, and do they support your career choice?
  • Responsibilities – Is there anyone or anything that relies on you?
  • Homesickness – Do you suffer with it?
  • Hobbies and interests – Will travel nursing far from home cause negative disruption to the things you like doing?

You are in control of your own destiny, and if travel nursing is the career for you, we say go for it – so long as you feel wholeheartedly able to. Remember, there may be local assignments that would allow you to reach home more often – though it may limit your nursing potential.

2.     What Motivates You?

Now you need to ask yourself what will really drive you through your travel nursing career. Is it:

  • Money – In the highest-paying role no matter the duty or location?
  • How you spend your spare time – With plenty to do and see when you’re not working?
  • The weather/climate – Near sunny sands or icy slopes?
  • Career advancement – Where nursing needs you most to develop and learn new skills?

Number these in order of priority, with number one being your biggest motivator. Knowing what you want from your travel nursing career will help you decide where best to apply your focus.

3.     What Do You Need?

There may also be other details that you need to think about. For example:

  • States that come under your compact licensure
  • Shifts – Some assignments may ask for specific rotas that work for you
  • Departments – If you desire to excel in a specific field, then you may have to make the worthwhile extra distance to get the assignments that will help you develop your experience

If any of these details matter to you, write them down. Discuss them with a specialist agency – they may have just the ticket.

4.     Affordability

Affordability is a key element to consider when choosing where to work.

If you picked out some of the destinations in our favorite hotspots, you’ll likely find many of them are on the more expensive side of living. This cost of living can be detrimental to your earnings.

If money is your motivator, and you’d prefer to come home from each assignment with extra in your bank account, then consider these most affordable states:

  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia
  • Arkansas
  • Alabama
  • Oklahoma
  • Kansas
  • Mississippi
  • New Mexico

All these states are calling out for travel nurses and may be perfect for your financial goals.

What You Must Do

You’re nearly good to go and ready to start your adventures in a career as a travel nurse! First, though, here are a few things that you must always adhere to in order to get the most out of your travel nursing career:

·      Check State Licenses and Maintain Them

Every state you nurse in will require you to have a license to do so. The more licenses you have, the more opportunities you’ll be able to access. Remember to keep them renewed, too.

·      Onboard with a Staffing Agency

Partnering with a specialist staffing agency like Loyal Source will ensure your career gets off to a flying start. We discuss with you all the things you’re looking for in an assignment and will match requirements to your skills and abilities for the best assignments.

We will also help to get your schedule booked up in advance with the most rewarding, best-matched, and latest travel nurse jobs.

·      Opt for Shorter-Term Assignments

If you’re new to travel nursing, it may be a good idea to go for the shorter-term contracts. This will allow you to test the water and get a feel for life as a travel nurse. If you sign up for a longer contract and something doesn’t quite work out, the healthcare provider may charge you for not completing the assignment, and you’ll return feeling less confident.

(Don’t worry too much about the penalty – it’s often also in place to protect you financially, too.) So, get scheduling some mini assignments, find your footing, and fly!

·      Be Flexible

Probably the most important aspect of travel nursing is to be flexible. The truth is, you must go where the jobs are. So, define what’s important to you, but also keep an open mind and consider different opportunities that we may suggest to you. You may just discover a skill you never had, a place you fall in love with, or a team you never want to leave.

Are You Ready? We Are, and We’re Waiting with Opportunities

Are you ready to reap the benefits both the United States and travel nursing combined can offer? Contact Loyal Source today! We’ll help you carve the perfect itinerary for your unique travel nursing journey.

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