Let’s be honest – as a single parent, transitioning into a travel nurse or allied health traveler can seem totally overwhelming! After all, it’s a commitment that requires a change in routine, housing, education, childcare – you name it. But it’s important to remember you’re not the first (or only!) single parent traveling with their children. With thorough research, planning, and helpful tips, traveling as a single parent is entirely doable and can be one of the most rewarding adventures!
Why Travel as a Single Parent?
Traveling with your littles gives them opportunities to see the country and experience things they wouldn’t be able to do at home, like kayaking with manatees in the Florida Keys or touring ancient cliff-dwelling Puebloan ruins in Colorado. It equips them with the experience and confidence to navigate unfamiliar situations, appreciate diverse cultures, and connect with new people at an early age.
Not to mention the amazing flexibility for you! Assignment lengths vary from as little as 1 – 4 weeks up to 28+ weeks, so you can select jobs with the right hours at the right time of the year that suits you and your family’s needs best. Maybe it makes sense to only travel during the summer months right now. Or perhaps you’re ready to go all in, all year long. In any case, your recruiter is your best resource to help you find travel assignments that check the most important boxes for you.
The flexibility of healthcare traveling is unlike any that a permanent nursing or allied position can offer, but traveling as a single parent is not a decision to be taken lightly. Ultimately, you know what’s best for you and your family. Here are some tips and resources to help you transition to a travel career as a single parent.
Travel and Logistics
Will you fly or drive from assignment to assignment? Are you packing up the U-Haul, or are you living off only what you can carry? There’s a lot to consider in just transportation alone!
• Start off Small
Dip your toes in by taking your first couple of travel assignments a few hours from home. This will help you and your kiddo get a sense of what it’d be like to live across the country. You’ll learn so much about what you over- or under-packed and get a good sense of what you thought you needed vs. what you could handle (with the security of home just a few hours away). Just remember, with Aureus Medical Group, assignments must be at least 50 miles away from a permanent residence.
• Travel Smarter, Not Harder
If flying, put your travel stipend towards flight deals or a rewards program that helps you get the most bang for your buck. Or make the flying process less of a hassle by applying for TSA PreCheck. If driving, save on precious car space by limiting the toys or clothing you bring, and pick up some clearance or goodwill toys once you arrive at your destination. This limits the number of things you carry from place to place and makes going out to choose a new game or outfit a fun outing for you both.
• Carry Proof
Make sure you have copies of all the necessary documentation and relevant paperwork for you and your kids! You may unexpectedly need to provide a birth certificate, proof of relationship, or additional photo IDs as you travel.
The more you travel, the more you find out what you need and can live without. If you are keeping a permanent residence or storage unit, it’s a little easier to leave some items behind, like furniture, seasonal clothes, and other non-necessities. If you’re taking your whole life with you, it will get easier with each new assignment!
Your home away from home can either be agency-provided or arranged by you. With the addition of your sidekick, quality housing can influence your travel assignment’s success. Since your housing is where you and your kid will be most often, there are definitely some advantages and disadvantages to consider for both.
• Company-Provided Housing
If you choose company-provided housing, you have less control over where you stay, but it’s less of a headache to find a place to live that meets all your needs. Your agency will work with you to accommodate your requests, whether you need pet-friendly, an extra room dedicated to schoolwork, proximity to the hospital, single-family, etc., but there is no guarantee they can provide everything on your list.
• Housing Stipend
If you choose to take the housing stipend and arrange your own short-term accommodation, you have total control over where you live, but you must spend the extra time and effort securing it from afar. Many choose to travel in an RV or a renovated sprinter van, removing the stress of house-searching altogether.
Whichever you choose, your recruiter is with you each step of the way with resources, discounts, housing advice, and other helpful tips!
The pandemic certainly gave students of all ages a taste of online, teacher-guided curriculum. Nowadays, there are so many accredited online programs for different ages and educational paths, like honors, credit recovery, dual credit, advanced placement, special education, and more. If your child seemed to enjoy or thrive in the virtual learning environment, then transitioning to a full-time online elementary, middle, or high school might be easier than you think.
Online courses offer flexibility for all learners on the move, from young competitive athletes to families that often travel for work. Programs will work with you and your child to develop routines that work best with their individualized needs, whether live, synchronous classes at specific hours, or self-guided virtual lessons at any time of the day.
Your home state or district may have an online option that works for you. Here are a few examples of public online education that students are thriving in across the country:
• University of Nebraska High School, grades 9-12 in Nebraska
• Legacy Online Academy, grades K-8 in Arizona
• Cal-Pac Charter School, grades K-12 in California
• Launch, grades K-12 in Missouri
• Tennessee Online Public School, grades K-12 in Tennessee
The person who cares for your children and where they go while you’re working can be one of the biggest obstacles you’ll face with each new assignment. While older children may be responsible enough to be left alone, your little ones cannot. It’s important to remember you do have options!
• Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Services
As an Aureus Medical Group traveler, you can access to parenting resources through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Through the free program, you can get referrals for childcare providers, after-school programs, camps, child development, and more to help you navigate each new assignment.
• Bring Someone You Trust
Consider asking a grandparent, close friend, or relative you trust (and who has the availability) to travel with you. With someone you know and love caring for your child each day, you know you’ll have one less thing to worry about with full-time, low-cost childcare covered.
Try a well-known, highly reviewed sitter service like care.com or sitter.com. Contact as many applicants as you can, thoroughly vet each person, read their references, and consider their experience in your child’s age range. Clearly define your expectations and contract agreements, like pay, length of employment, and so on. Also, consider nanny cameras with remote access apps so you can check in on your child throughout your shift. You should always notify potential nannies that there are cameras before offering them a position!
It can all seem a bit daunting at first, but if you start with a clear plan, thoroughly research and vet what you can control, and keep an open mind, you’ll set a strong foundation that will pay off with each new assignment. You have a whole community of single-parent travelers supporting you, so look to travel nurse Facebook groups, friends or family, or your recruiter for advice, tips, and encouragement along the way! And remember, from housing to education to childcare, Aureus Medical Group is here to help you explore opportunities as a single-parent travel nurse or allied health professional. Contact us online or start searching for a travel assignment today!