Thursday, March 18, 2021

Travel nursing with family and pets? It can work!

My family had been stuck in our Chicago apartment for six months when Little E's school system made the decision to start the school year with online learning. Papa E was already working remotely, and we were keeping our distance from friends and family due to my ongoing risk of COVID-19 exposure while working as a nurse. With the ability to take school and work on the road, we suddenly found ourselves with an odd bit of freedom despite the many restrictions in place. One week after the school announcement, I signed my first travel nursing contract. I am now on my third contract, and traveling has been an awesome choice for our family (even our two cats!). Keep reading for answers to a few of the most common questions I am asked.

  • How did you choose an agency to travel with?
    • I ended up selecting an agency that was recommended by a friend who currently travels. I also did a lot of online research and spoke with several recruiters before making a final decision. Making a list of questions and priorities was helpful for me.

  • How do you manage long drives with your cats?
    • Our cats get very anxious in the car and are more comfortable when they can be together. Rather than using the small individual carriers that we typically use for things like trips to the vet, we purchased a large travel kennel that would give them space to stay together while still being able to move around. The 32" size took up two seats in the back of our Ford Fusion and left enough room for my son to sit comfortably. We maximized his space by using this backseat organizer from Amazon. We likely could have gone a little bit smaller but wanted space to be able to fit a small litter box during stops.

  • Which hotels let you stay with cats?
    • There are actually many hotels that will allow you to bring cats or dogs along for an additional fee, but even within some of the major chains this can vary from location to location. Always call ahead to verify prior to making a reservation. Motel 6 is a standout because they allow up to two pets to stay totally free across all of their locations. This is a good no-frills option when you just need somewhere to spend the night while driving. Check out this article from Go Pet Friendly for a list of nine hotel chains that allow cats.
  • Is it difficult to find pet-friendly housing? What about housing with more than one bedroom?
    • Working with a housing stipend rather than agency-provided housing gave us a lot more flexibility. Finding housing that allows pets can be difficult, but it is not impossible. We had good luck finding a cat-friendly unit with two bedrooms on Furnished Finder. Expect to pay a pet deposit, or even monthly pet rent in some cases. 
    •  Availability can also vary quite a bit by location. If you're interested in traveling to a specific area, do a quick search on Furnished Finder or other housing sites with the appropriate filters (entire unit, allows pets, 2+ bedrooms, etc.) on to get an idea of how many options are available. Do this before submitting for contracts in an area to avoid a high-stress situation later on.
Let me know in the comments if there are any specific questions you would like answered!

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