Our Favorite Summer Road Trips for Travel Nurses
By Jennifer Larson, contributor
Sometimes, the best road trips for travel nurses are the ones that get squeezed in between travel nursing assignments. So pack the car and hit the road a few days early! Whether you have a new job starting soon, or some time to kill before your next assignment begins, our guide to summer side trips can spur some fun new adventures.
Hopefully, you’ll also have some great stories to tell your friends back home, or to your new colleagues at your assignment destination.
Still need ideas for your next travel nursing assignment? Check out our Relocation Guide.
Make the time for adventure
First, if you’re dreaming of taking a road trip, don’t put it off until some distant point in the future. Life can sometimes get in the way. Plot out what you could do this summer—especially as more locations around the country are opening up after months of lockdowns and capacity limits from the COVID-19 pandemic.
You could take the scenic route on the way to your next travel nursing assignment, or drive to a specific destination with nothing but R and R on your agenda. It doesn’t have to be a long trip if you can’t spare the time. Just allow enough time for a new adventure. Even using your days off can allow the chance for some short day trips or weekend getaways.
“Take the time,” encouraged Jenn Halpin, BSN, RN, who was all about the adventure during her three years of travel nursing.
Halpin, who’s from New England, deliberately took travel nursing assignments in places she’d always wanted to visit, especially on the West Coast. She estimates that she spent maybe two out of 13 weekends in her apartment during one California travel nursing assignment; she was always hitting the road to places like San Diego and Las Vegas.
But even when she was between assignments, she found ways to explore and have fun. She loved to check out natural hot springs or see the sights when she was driving between travel nursing assignments. She made time to visit several national parks, like Glacier National Park in Montana and Zion National Park in Nevada.
And of course, there was the solo cruise to Alaska that Halpin took along the inside passage that really opened her eyes to the beauty of our northernmost state. She wound up asking for a travel nursing assignment so she could spend more time in Alaska. She now lives there full-time!
Halpin’s advice for figuring out what kind of trip to plan: “Ask yourself, ‘What’s on your bucket list?’” she suggested. Then go from there.
Use these summer road trip ideas for inspiration
Ready to pack up and go? Here are a few summer road trip ideas for travel nurses to consider:
- Route 66. Often called “the Main Street of America” and “the Mother Road,” U.S. Route 66 is one of the very first highways in the U.S. highway system. It was established in November 1926, and it’s been a road trip favorite ever since. Although many people think of the part that’s out west in California, the route actually stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles. Travel along all or part of this historic roadway, stopping along the way to visit iconic sites. One to suggest: the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.
- Blue Ridge Parkway. If you’re living or working in the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic part of the country, a summer drive along the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway is a must-do. Noted for its scenic beauty, the parkway links the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park. Detour off the road to visit fun spots like Asheville, North Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia.
- Pacific Coast Highway. If you have enough time (and enough desire), you could drive the entire length of the West Coast, from Olympic National Park in Washington State to San Diego, close to the Mexican border. That’s 1,650 miles of coastline! You’ll find gorgeous views and lots of fun towns along the way.
- Hudson Valley. Looking for a shorter road trip that doesn’t take you too far away from civilization? Explore New York’s famed Hudson River Valley by car. Don’t miss the chance to visit Sleepy Hollow, the site of the famous, creepy Washington Irving story, and hop out of the car to explore the charming village of Nyack-on-Hudson on foot.
Have your own ideas to add to our list of best road trips for travel nurses? Share your pick on TravelNursing.com’s social media pages.
More tips for planning your perfect road trip
- Pick something you like to do or see or eat, and plan a road trip around it. Love lighthouses? Scout out a few lighthouses within driving distance of each other in the Northeast. Love barbecue? Pick out a few BBQ joints in the South or Midwest that you’d love to visit and plan your road trip so you can visit them in sequence. Love seafood? Try driving around the coastline of Massachusetts and stopping at roadside seafood shacks along the way.
- Ask a friend to join you. A fellow travel nurse or a friend from home might be enthusiastic about hitting the road with you. Plus, you can trade off the driving responsibilities.
- Consider camping. Pack a tent and your sleeping bag. Use an online campsite reservation system like Reserve America, Recreation.gov, or Go Camping America to lock down campsites along the way to your destination.
Travel Inspired: 25 Quotes for Travelers
TravelNursing.com can get you on the road to adventure with thousands of travel nursing jobs across the U.S. Whether it’s summer, fall, winter or spring, you’ll find some great destinations just waiting to be discovered—and getting there can be half the fun!
APPLY TODAY to start your travel nursing adventure.