In 2022, we’ve seen a historic rise in gas prices, housing costs, and record inflation. We have also turned a page and are currently seeing the travel rates for healthcare professionals dwindle from the record highs we’ve seen at the peak of the pandemic. As a result, travelers are currently facing difficulty maximizing their income while facing a challenging housing market, fear of student loan interest rates kicking back up, and many other challenges faced during an economic downturn.
One popular option many healthcare professionals are adopting is RV Living versus previously hopping from one AirBnB or hotel to another. Living in an RV while on assignment is one way to maximize your travel nurse housing stipend. However, this lifestyle is not for everyone.
RV-Living vs. Traditional Travel Nurse Housing
As a travel nurse, the majority of your paycheck comes from tax-free stipends, mainly your housing stipends. Maximizing your stipend is key to being a successful travel nurse (whether you go with mobile or traditional housing options). By choosing the RV lifestyle and staying at campsites can offer a much cheaper option than renting an apartment, Airbnb, or hotel.
Examples of Saving Money With Campsites
In another assignment in Vermont during 2021, many individuals at a hospital were struggling to find travel nurse housing. Some were even forced to turn down assignments due to the minimal options in the area. Many nurses lived in a tiny room at a nearby inn, with no kitchen and shared walls that cost more than $1,000 a month. At the same time and just minutes from the hospital, a campground was offering RV sites for $900 a month, which included amenities such as pools and activities.
Staying at campsites can save you money, maximize your earnings, and stretch your travel nurse housing stipend farther.
Other Advantages of RV Living During Assignments
Careful consideration of the pros and cons of the RV lifestyle should be made prior to living in an RV while on a travel assignment. Some of the advantages of RV living include:
- Never having to pack just a few suitcases or your car.
- Allow you to bring more of your belongings with you, including your beloved pets and familiar surroundings.
- Campgrounds and RV resorts offer an easy opportunity to meet new friends outside of work by enjoying amenities such as pools, gyms, and planned gatherings that may include live bands, brunches, potlucks, or yard game tournaments.
Many travel health pros love the great outdoors and seek adventure and RV living will offer all this and more.
Tips for RV-Living
Travel nurses and healthcare professionals who choose to maximize their stipends by living in an RV will encounter a major lifestyle change that will require constant creativity and flexibility when it comes to traveling in their homes.
Book Campgrounds Early
Look for assignments that have multiple campgrounds in the area. Starting the phone call or email by telling campground staff you are a travel nurse looking to come to the local hospital to help with short staffing may increase your chances of landing a spot!
Unfortunately, if you have been offered a job, but cannot find a campground nearby or there is no availability you may have to turn down a contract. It is important to do a quick google search of campgrounds, RV resorts, and parks prior to submitting to an assignment. Do not submit to travel assignments where there is no affordable travel nurse housing and minimal campgrounds in the area.
Avoid Metropolitan Areas
Consider Monthly or Seasonal Bookings
Weigh Campsite Utility Options
Watch the Weather
Winter is the most difficult time of the year to book an RV site because snowbirds all head south to states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona. To combat the influx of campers, book a few options months (or even a year) ahead of time. Summertime around the country is also proving to be increasingly more difficult since the boom in camping 2 years ago.
Keeping your RV warm in a very cold climate in the winter or trying to keep it cool while in a very hot climate in the summer can also present many challenges and be costly. Will your AC units be enough to keep up? Should you heat with propane or electric during those cold months? Freezing temps can cause not only your water to freeze but cause major, costly repairs to fix this if it happens.
Camping in the winter or freezing temps also requires extra preparation including skirting your RV, larger propane tanks or more frequent refills, purchasing space heaters, and other potential hurdles. However, if you are brave enough to endure cooler or not ideal climates in the winter, if you can find an open campground you may find cheaper campsite rates.
It is important to note many campgrounds in the northern states close due to freezing temperatures that will freeze water lines and sewer hookups.
Budgeting for RV-Living Lifestyle
Although RV living can be a rewarding and cost-effective experience, there’s still additional costs that travelers should be aware of before deciding on this route for travel nurse housing.
Save on Gas
Consider taking assignments closer to home or closer to your current assignment versus taking long, expensive cross-country trips. If you have the possibility to stay and extend at your current facility this will also save you money on gas even if the hospital is considering a rate cut for your extension. Planning to do all your errands on one day or grocery shopping once a week instead of twice can also save you money and maximize your travel nurse housing stipends.
Conclusion on RV-Living for Travel Nurse Housing
After dipping her toes into the full-time RV lifestyle over the past 4+ years, travel nurse Tina Nault can honestly say she wouldn’t still be in travel nursing if she couldn’t live in an RV. However, the number of challenges she would face choosing this lifestyle was truly underestimated. As you can see, RV living really does have many pros and cons. It is truly not for everyone. Extensive planning and having multiple backup plans when choosing assignments are imperative. Considering weather conditions, ways to save on fuel while traveling and maintenance costs will all be deciding factors in choosing if the RV life is best for you and your travel nurse career.
But for people like Tina, there is no better way to see the country and follow her dreams of being a travel nurse than living full time in her RV!
Tina Nault is the face behind @thervtravelnurse and the author behind her own blog. She has been an ER nurse for over 7 years now and has spent the last 4 and a half years traveling the country as a travel nurse. After setting out on her travel nurse journey in 2018, she and her fiancé bought a fifth-wheel RV to call home for them and their cats. She began her journey when travel nursing and RV living was a less popular concept. Since then, she has traveled around the country and absolutely thrives on the lifestyle, and offers advice to others. She has started her own blog, where she shares travel nurse tips, helpful resources, tips for living in an RV, and some of the amazing destinations she has been.