Make Money and Travel – Traveling Nurse Eric

Make Money and Travel – Traveling Nurse Eric

There are not many “normal”, with benefits, jobs that lend themselves to fulltime travel, especially with a family.

So, when Eric (the guy with the cute family in the pic below) agreed to give us the dish on his job as a traveling nurse for our Make Money and Travel series I was stoked!  It’s a super cool “normal” job that is perfect for sedentary lifeaphobics.

Eric and Sarah, along with their two kids, Michael (7) and Max (5), the dog Satchel (9) and lizard Ned (2) live and travel in their 5th wheel from one town (and nursing gig) to the next.  This is how Eric took his job on the road and now makes money and travels…

full time RVer and traveling nurse

We have been full time traveling in the RV since July 2010, with the exception of the beginning of this year when we all moved onto a boat while I worked as a nurse on a cruise ship.  My wife was a travel agent before being laid off.  We loved travel, but we thought since we bought a house, and have 2 kids (and pets) we were done traveling.  We couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Job

Describe your working situation and what line of work you’re in; If you have multiple streams of income that fund your lifestyle, tell us what they are.

Have you always had this job? At what point did you realize that you could bring in enough income to continually fund a location independent lifestyle?

I am a Registered nurse, working the Emergency Department. I have been a nurse now for 5 years.  I worked a staff job in Houston, TX for a couple of years before the hospital hired a few travel nurses to fill some holes left by recent departures.  I noticed these traveling nurses seemed happier than we were.  I started asking questions.  When I told Sarah about it, the conversation quickly turned from could we do it to how can we do it.

full time RVer and traveling nurse

The Hours

How many hours do you put in a week and what does a typical workday look like for you?

I work three twelve hour shifts a week.  I have some say in my schedule and can contractually exclude certain important days if I want.  Some contracts want overtime, but once the contract is signed, I am guaranteed three twelve hour shifts, so it is entirely up to me if I work overtime.

The Pay

If you are willing to say, what is the average yearly salary for someone in your line of work? How long did it take for you to start earning a comfortable/typical living for this line of work? If you don’t feel comfortable giving numbers tell us, are you scraping by, are you able to put money in savings and pay your bills or are you raking it in?

It can depend on several factors.  Are you choosing locations based on pay or how cool the area is.  Some awesome places pay less because they are awesome.  Some traveling nurses take time off between contracts that usually last 13 weeks, these people are usually single with no kids though.  The pay can range from $1100 – $1700 weekly depending on the area, specialty unit and many other factors.  If you work overtime, and you’re really motivated, you can get into the six figure range.  I am not really motivated.

The Tools

What are the most essential pieces of equipment or programs you need for working while traveling?

RN license, ACLS, PALS, BLS, TNCC.

Nursing school can run the gamut from an associate’s degree (2 year program with at least one year of prerequisite classes) to a full Bachelor’s degree all the way up to a doctorate.  I went the two year degree route.  Once you finish school you will need at least 12-18 months working as a nurse in your preferred specialty (ER, Labor and Delivery, OR, ICU, etc.)

The Client

Who are your clients? Do you find them or do they find you and how? What is your rejection rate? How many clients do you pitch to finally win over one? You don’t have tell us who your clients are directly, just how you go about getting the work.

I have a recruiter (or two) who tell me what openings they have.  I pick my favorites from the list of available and submit an application.  I have probably a 40% chance of getting one if I submit.  I have worked with a few different companies and I recommend Jackson Nurse Professionals and Liquid Agents Healthcare.

The Up’s

What are the best 1-3 positive things about working while traveling? Those things that make you think wow; I really am living the dream.

I can teach my kids about the world by showing it to them.  My kid learned about volcanoes on the slopes of Mt. St. Helens and Kiluea.

Our smashed penny collection is the envy of all who see it.

If I am at a hospital I like, I am smiling because I am at a cool place.  If I am at a hospital I don’t like, I am smiling because I get to leave in a few weeks.

The Down’s

What are the worst 1-3 frustrating things about working while traveling? Any ways you’ve found to avoid or cope with this frustration?

“Reinventing the wheel is a pain in the behind”.  Every three months we have to find a new grocery store, a new laundry, car parts store…everything.

Things break.  We subject our home to a sustained several hour long earthquake every so often and things don’t always survive.  I have learned more about fixing things in the past three years than the previous ten.

Missing family.  We can’t always be there for holidays and special occasions.  With family so spread out, like mine is, I think we actually see more of my family than we would otherwise, but it is inconsistent.  And we almost never have a baby sitter we can trust as a result.


If you could go back in time and give yourself 1- 3 pieces of advice about starting in this line of work, what would it be?

Organize your paperwork better you slob!

Take a longer look at that toy hauler.  You could make it work.

Buy better tools.  Things break.

The Fantasy Job

What is one of the most creative ways you’ve heard of someone else funding a location independent lifestyle? The one that made you wish you had thought of it first!

Bumfuzzle.  To make a living writing is THE DREAM.  Then I could get that boat.  Nothing ever breaks on a boat…right?

So, what do you think, could being a traveling nurse be the solution to the traveling life you have always wanted?  Did you find Eric’s information helpful or inspiring? Want to be his traveling baby sitter?  If so, leave a comment below and let him know!  You can also follow Eric and read more about his traveling work life on his blogs:

To read more Make Money and Travel interviews, click here.