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Is the gold rush for travel nurses over?

Travel nursing hit its absolute peak during the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2022. It was a lucrative niche for skilled nurses to hit it big financially. These nurses would travel from low-impact areas to high-impact areas, chasing that gold rush. They left their stable incomes to forge their own paths in different areas of the country.

Travel nurses worked for agencies that would hire them out to healthcare facilities. The agency gets paid for every travel nurse contract they secure. Healthcare facilities would double, triple, and even quadruple their rates to land these contracts.

As the COVID-19 pandemic peaked throughout the country at different times, travel nurses were called to those areas. Travel nurses worked in schools to implement state-wide testing programs. They worked at the health department to help track COVID-19 cases. In some areas, they helped administer much needed vaccines.

But, COVID-19 cases are finally retreating after 4 long, long years. And so is the need for travel nursing. Agencies are starting to reduce their rates to reflect the lowered market demand. With healthcare facilities needing fewer nurses, there are fewer assignments available.

Travel nurses are having their contracts canceled before they even begin. Or, they’re renegotiated for less than half the price. The gold rush is over.

Travel nursing isn’t going away entirely. It’s always been here and it likely always will. There is still a national shortage of nurses. So, some parts of the country will still pay more for nurses to meet their coverage. But the weeks of $10,000 paychecks are long gone. Travel nursing salaries and opportunities are starting to become more aligned with the rest of the nursing industry.

So what’s next for travel nurses?

Why choose travel nursing?

Most travel nurses are highly skilled. They’ve spent years at the bedside before they transition to a full-time travel role. Most travel nurses work in an ICU, medical-surgical role, or operating room. Only about 2% of nurses are travel nurses.

Travel nurses crave their freedom. They perform a more autonomous role in many cases. Without their bosses breathing down their necks, they are in their own bubbles as they work.

Financially, most staff salaries can't match travel nursing salaries. When a hospital is willing to pay 4x your regular salary, it’s hard to pass that up. On average, travel nurses make $479 more a week than staff nurses.

The highest-paying city is San Francisco, California. A labor and delivery nurse in San Francisco can make almost $2,000 in a single week. An anesthetist can make

102% more as a travel nurse than as a staff nurse. They can rake in $3,600 in a week.

You can make enough money to work for 3 months and take an entire month off to reset. Not many other jobs set you up for this work-life balance- besides freelance writing.

And then comes one of the biggest perks: traveling. Travel nurses can pick their assignments all over the country. Curious about Denver? Pick up a 3-month contract and spend your downtime skiing all winter. Not your vibe? Just move on at the end.

Close to total freedom.

So what’s next for travel nurses?

It looks like travel nurses are looking for options away from the bedside. After four long years of COVID, nurses are burned out. They may be looking for low-acuity options. Stepping away from the bedside is an excellent choice for travel nurses who need a reset but still want their freedom.

Solopreneurship is the next obvious choice for travel nurses. For people that love

flexibility, freedom, autonomy, traveling, and money, freelancing may be the perfect solution. As a travel nurse, you were never quite your own boss, but you were close. As a solopreneur, you are in charge of every aspect of your career.

Freelance writing can be your next travel assignment. It can offer you the total freedom you’re used to and the salary you’re looking for.

You can:

  • Set your salary

  • Set your own hours

  • Work as little or as much as you want

  • Take as many vacations as you want

  • Decide exactly who you want to work with

  • Work remotely from anywhere in the world

Sound familiar?

How long does it take to become a freelance writer?

It doesn’t take long to become a full-time freelance writer. You can be up and running in a month with paid clients. The best part about freelance writing is that you need absolutely no start-up capital. All you need is a computer and the Internet.

You need no special credentialing or degree to become a freelance health writer. You don’t even have to write about your previous work experience. You just have to have a basic understanding of English and how to research medical topics.

Can you really make a similar salary to travel nursing?

You may not make the same as you did as a travel nurse at the height of the pandemic. I’m not sure many industries can match $10,000 weeks. But, you can make $10,000 a month as a freelance writer. And you can make even more as a medical writer.

But this doesn’t happen overnight. For some people it does. But for others, it can take a couple of years to get there. It depends on how quickly you raise your rates and how much effort you put into your new career.


Travel nursing during COVID-19 was the wild, wild west. You could pick your own contracts anywhere in the country while making more money than you ever had. But the wild, wild west has seen its end. So what’s a travel nurse to do?

If you’re looking for a flexible schedule and the ability to work from anywhere in the world, check out freelance writing. Set yourself up with a competitive salary as your own boss. With no startup capital needed and no prior experience, freelance writing may be just the solution travel nurses need.

Curious about how you can become a freelance writer?

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