Written for The Gypsy Nurse blog. See original post here.
Travel nursing is such a rewarding career for obvious reasons but for nurses with a partner waiting for them back home, it can sometimes be difficult out on the road. Sure, you meet all kinds of amazing people throughout your travels and you are having all of these great experiences, seeing new places. However, while you are having the time of your life there’s a loyal guy or girl back home holding down the fort which can occasionally lead to feelings of guilt and remorse. It would be unreal if your partner could come along on your adventures with you (though some couples do that!) but that may not be possible in every travel nurse’s case. Can you escape that pit-in-your-stomach feeling and focus on yourself and making the best out of every assignment? Is it possible to actually successfully be a travel nurse and be in a long distance relationship at the same time? Totally.
Do you want some proof? Me! I’m a newer travel nurse, on my second assignment with a third one booked already. I fell in love with the travel nursing life when I finally decided to plunge into it. I have been with my boyfriend for four and a half years and we are succeeding at the long distance life. You might think I know nothing about long distance relationships based on my lack of years of experience in the matter but I feel like this is really helpful for nurses who are juggling the decision to start travelling. It took me awhile to make the decision so I’m assuming maybe you are struggling too. It’s a lot harder for us because we have an entire other person to recognize and consider when making this huge change (or more than that if you have children) . I don’t consider myself an expert at all and every relationship is different but here are seven things to consider when preparing to jump into the wonderful travel nurse lifestyle.
Yes you will. Not every day is perfect when you are out on assignment. We romanticize the travel life a bit on social media but when it comes down to it, sometimes this life can be hard. You can get lonely and sad even when you’re doing what you love. Maybe your schedule is completely different than your partner’s, maybe you’re in completely different time zones. Realize that the good days outweigh the bad and look at the big picture. You’re doing what you want to do and you’re making good money! Set goals for the future to work towards so that living apart is really worth it. Bring pictures with you and put them around your room and house so that you always catch glimpses of him or her.
This might be the most important point. If you go days without talking to your partner, it can create space and make you seem even more distant. Make time every day- even an hour- to text them, talk on the phone, or video chat. Even just the simple fact of tagging your partner on a cute/funny Facebook or Instagram post will let them know you’re thinking of them. We have this amazing thing called technology and the internet which allows us to be even closer to our loved ones…make use of it!
3. Make time for each other.
Plan date nights a few times a week! Are you both just laying on the couch watching TV? Turn your Facetime on and do it together! Watch a hockey or football game at the same time, watch a TV show or movie together, put your phone on speaker while you’re cooking dinner. Get creative! Feeling cute? Send them a Snapchat of yourself when you’re getting ready. Keep the fire alive if you know what I mean! It’s going to take some effort on both parts to make this work. I always say that it isn’t 50/50…it’s 100/100 to successfully live this type of life!
4. Realize the benefits.
Look how independent you are becoming. You are fully capable of functioning on your own without being attached at the hip to someone. You can both live independent lives while still sharing them together. People get lost in relationships and lose themselves so easily but travel nursing actually helps to prevent that. It creates trust and support in healthy relationships as long as you are both being mature and being loyal to one another. Side note: I do think there is a double standard for women to work out of town than it is for men to do so. Some people think women should stay home but come on…it’s 2019 people! Sure it isn’t the old fashioned way but the double income household life is where it’s at. Part of the reason I’m able to work by contract is because I have the stability of my partner’s full time income to back us up in the meantime.
5. Don’t take your partner for granted.
Think about this. Your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/person is at home and is supporting you to live out of town and follow your dreams. You don’t HAVE to work out of town. You are choosing to do so. Don’t take advantage of your partner and don’t take them for granted. Realize the sacrifices they are making for you and express gratitude for that. They’re lonely too. They miss you too. Make sure they are on the same page as you. I’m sure not everyone will always be supportive…you might decide to do this and then your loved one wants to end your relationship! And yes that is so hard to think about and you may feel selfish but do you really want to be with someone who isn’t going to support you to live your best life? They’re holding you back and that’s not cool. Once you’re living the dream of combining nursing and travelling, you’ll get over heartbreak very easily. I hope you are lucky enough to have a strong support system behind you but if not, you’re a bad ass travel nurse and you can do it!
6. Don’t feel guilty.
This one is really tough for me. For us people-pleaser personalities, it is SO easy to feel guilty for making this choice. I struggled so hard with these emotions but you just have to find a way to move past it. Set your goals and focus on them. When it comes down to it, all emotions aside, realize you need to look at YOURSELF and decide what’s best for YOU right now. If you aren’t happy as an individual, it will spill out into your relationship and it will affect every aspect of your life. I am a firm believer in if you aren’t happy with where you are in life- DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Stop complaining about things and make some changes to enhance your soul.
7. It is possible.
You can do it. Sure, being single would be much easier I’m sure. If we only had to worry about ourselves we would be long gone, right?! But look at the big picture. Talk to other people about it, work through those feelings. There are many success stories out there, myself included. Take time off in between contracts and go on some trips together. Visit one another on your days off if you can. The biggest thing to take out of this, I think, is to WORK FOR IT. If you give up, your relationship will fail. How can you expect to succeed at something if you don’t try at it?
Thanks for reading!