One of the most common myths about travel nursing is that you have to travel across the country, or even work out of state. You may have heard that your assignment has to be at least 50 miles away from your permanent residence in order to collect the tax-free benefits of a travel nurse.
Well this is simply not true. The IRS does not have a specific ‘50-mile rule’ describing a certain distance you have to work away from home. This 50-mile or 100-mile radius is used by many hospital facilities as a general rule of thumb, to prevent their own full-time workers from picking up the contracts themselves.
So yes, you can most certainly be a travel nurse without spending a small fortune on flight costs, or traveling across multiple states. For more specifics on actual tax deductions you can claim while working within the same state as a travel nurse, consult with a tax professional who can give you the most accurate information for the laws in your state. And check out our FAQ on Travel Nursing!
How To Be A Local Travel Nurse:
At CMS we have many RNs who are local travelers. Some choose to stay super close to home and accept the local rate, but others are open to traveling a fairly short distance but still reap the tax benefits of travel pay. Below is a great example from one of our local travelers – lets call her Regina the RN. Regina actually worked at another hospital across the state while remaining PRN staff at her current job. She ended up getting an extension on her contract, so she was actually there for a total of 6 months while working her other job. She did this to save up for her wedding and was actually able to pay for the whole thing in cash. She managed this by making sure her scheduled shifts didn’t conflict with each other, and allowed for time to eat and sleep in between. She also rented a small apartment on the other side of the state to stay while she worked her three, 12-hour shift days. When those three days were through, she would drive a few hours home and work her normal job. She would often describe to me how nice it was being able to run home for a family function one day, and then be able to meet with her friends on another day. This made it easy for her to work the long hours away from home.
If you’re wondering whether this could work for you, here are some of the pros and cons of being a travel nurse and working within your home same state.
Pros to being a travel nurse while working within the same state:
Out of pocket travel costs are lower
It’s possible to still keep your day job while making a ton of money!
No messing with tons of luggage or furniture
Home is still accessible through a short drive
You’ll be more familiar with the area, making it easier to find a nice hotel or apartment
You’ll never have to miss a family function (but you’ll still have a good excuse if you don’t want to go)
Feelings of homesickness can be quickly remedied
You’ll still have the security of friends and family being close to you
Cons to being a travel nurse and working within the same state:
You don’t get to travel and see the country
Drastically narrows your opportunity of getting a travel contract
You lose the ability to work with different patient populations
You’re basically working a job but with a longer commute and temporarily living in two locations
You still need to set up housing
You lose the true experience of life as a travel nurse
For myself, I think the best thing about being a travel nurse is having the opportunity to travel and see the country. I’m all up for experiencing new cities and meeting new people, but for some other people this might not be the most ideal situation.
A lot of first time travelers would prefer to try something close to home, in order to “test the waters” and see if they actually enjoy it. When you do, you’ll find out what is important for you, and decide why you want to be a travel nurse. Is it for the experience of being out on your own, forced to make new friends and keep yourself entertained? Is it to see the US, or the world? Is it to face new challenges and see learn form others? Is it to provide flexibility for more time with family and friends? Or is it more for the money and career advancement?
Depending on the answers to the questions above, there is an option that is right for you!