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How to Prepare for the Holidays as a Travel Nurse

Working during the holidays as a travel nurse can be hard. Whether it’s missing out on traditions, or just missing your family, being away from home can be challenging this time of year. With this in mind, we’re here to help you prepare for the holidays and shape it into the best experience it can be.

Picking your assignment

As a travel nurse, you can choose wherever you want to spend your holidays. However, like usual, it’s important to do your research. For example, if you’re looking to work in Colorado, but have never driven in snow, or experienced freezing temperatures before, you’ll want to make sure you know what to bring in order to stay safe. Furthermore, you’ll want to inquire about pay, time-off requests, and holiday travel as this will vary across the board.


As staff nurses take vacation and hospitals see an influx of patients, you may see an increase of overtime and guaranteed hours. If you’re looking to maximize your income as a travel nurse, this can be a great time to pick up an assignment. With travel nursing already having higher pay, picking up extra shifts can help you reach financial goals quicker. However, keep in mind what you’re capable of and make sure you don’t overwork yourself.

Requesting time off

If you’re looking to get that coveted time off during the holidays, put in your requests as early as possible. Furthermore, make sure you have clear language regarding PTO in your contract before signing. Although your company can advocate for you, ultimately your schedule is up to the facility, as each hospital has specific requirements this time of year.

Traveling home for the holidays

If you are traveling home for family plans, keep in mind that airports and highways will be busier than usual. If you’re driving, plan on encountering holiday traffic, and if you’re flying, expect delays or lost luggage.

Here are some hacks to help prepare for a smoother holiday flight:

  • Think ahead with TSA precheck
  • Skip the line and only bring quality carry-on luggage
  • Invest in air tags to track your checked bags


Being away from family and friends can be overwhelming this time of year. However, it’s important to remember that working during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. Here are a few tips to manage your homesickness so you can still enjoy your holiday season. while on assignment.

Celebrate with co-workers

Chances are you have other travel or staff nurses at your hospital who may be alone for the holidays. So, this can make for the perfect time to reach out and spend time together outside of work. This can be as simple as going out to eat, or as extravagant as signing up for a Santa Fun Run. It’s up to you!

Create new traditions

A huge perk of being a travel nurse is making new experiences. Investigate fun upcoming holiday events near you, or reach out to your co-workers and see what they suggest – they might even invite you to join them on some of their own traditions! Even if you’re missing your own holiday customs back home, you may find new ones you’ll want to practice for years to come.

Virtual holidays

Using FaceTime or other video calling platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Facebook, you can connect with your family wherever you are. If you’re working during the holidays, you can easily plan to celebrate with your loved ones around your schedule. Use this technology to open presents together, play virtual games, or just catch up. This can be a great way to help ease that homesick feeling.

Post-pone family holidays

If celebrating with friends and co-workers still isn’t cutting it, plan to celebrate with your family at a later date. With control over your schedule, you can take a small break in between contracts and go back home. Having a family celebration scheduled in advance can give you something to look forward to while you’re away.

Prioritize self-care

Spending the holidays working and away from family can take a large toll on your mental and physical health. Taking care of yourself is the best way to ensure you can take care of others.

Staying healthy

With germy facilities, cold temperatures, and holiday stress, getting sick is just around the corner. So, here are a few ways you can help yourself stay healthy this season:

  • Get 7-9 hours of quality sleep
  • Stay up-to-date on your vaccinations
  • Eat a well-balanced diet

Avoiding burnout

Nursing can be an exhausting profession. If you couple that with staffing shortages, holiday activities, and extra shifts, it can lead to feeling extremely burnt out. This holiday season, prioritize yourself and your mental health. This can look like downloading (and practicing) meditation apps, establishing a support system, saying “no” to overtime, and voicing your non-negotiables.

Whether it’s planning holiday travel, dealing with loneliness, or fighting off the flu, working during the holidays can be challenging. However, what you get out of an assignment is up to you. Make the best of it by creating new traditions, celebrating with co-workers, and connecting with family when you can.

With over 8,000 health care jobs available, Ethos can help you find the perfect holiday assignment. Check out our job board today, or get in touch with one of our amazing recruiters.



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