Being a travel nurse, something that I love the most is the freedom and ability to explore new places both in the form of new cities while on assignment, and leisure vacations in between contracts. I love planning trips and finding unique experiences to do within that destination!
Over the years, I've made some expensive and timely mistakes, but also researched and learned lots of great tips and tricks for traveling both domestically and internationally. Check them out below!
Be Loyal. Something I was told a long time ago and wish I did sooner- pick an airline or hotel chain & always book with them! While it may be a little more expensive upfront, once you have points accumulating and frequent flyer status, the benefits absolutely make up for it! I'm a hardcore Delta girl and status has gotten me so many free flights, free baggage, upgrades to Comfort or First on almost every flight, free drinks, lounge access, & free companion passes. The best option for this is to get a credit card with the airline or hotel! Those usually come with even more benefits!
Get a travel credit card & start accumulating points & status . There’s many great options from all major companies & brands! Chase Reserve and Delta American Express Reserve are a few of my faves
Always book direct on the airline or hotel website. Booking direct saves you the time and hassle of having to go through a third party company (Travelocity, Expedia, etc) if you run into any issues, cancellations, etc.
Pack in a carry-on bag as often as you can! This will save you time, money, and the stress of if its going to get lost!
If you do check a bag, place an AirTag in it to track it yourself & gives you peace of mind!
Under federal law, every domestic flight can be canceled within 24 hours of booking for a full refund.
Set a price alert on Google Flights with your destination and dates. They will email you of a price change and if it goes down, most airlines will let you rebook & give you credit for the price difference.
Get TSA PreCheck! Literally the best $85 you can spend and good for 5 yrs. Most travel credit cards will offer it for free & you will save sooo much time in the security line, especially if you’re usually running late like me!
Global Entry will expedite customs when coming back into the US. This is also free with most credit cards and also includes PreCheck. The recent issue with this is you need an in person interview for approval and most cities have no appointments available or are booked over a year out. A great trick for this is, once you land, ask for the Global Entry office and do an "Interview on arrival." You don't need an appointment and get instant enrollment. I just did this last month
Buy a SIM card! This is also something I wish I knew sooner, instead of paying $10/day for Verizon coverage. SIM cards are super easy to set up electronically and way cheaper, have faster data, and better coverage! I recommend using WhatsApp for texts and calls internationally
Never use an ATM or currency exchange in the airport . Wait to get into the city or near your hotel. Airports always have the worst exchange rate. When checking out at an international shop or restaurant- they’ll give you the option to charge in the local currency vs USD. Always pick the local currency and the credit card company with convert at the current (better) rate.
A great option for solo travel is a private room in a hostel. A private room is a great way to meet other solo travelers and partake in all the hostel activities and excursions with added privacy and comfort instead of a shared dorm.
Extended layovers. Certain airlines want you to visit their country of origin and will built an extended layover into your flight plans. Some examples are TAP Portugal, Erica’s, Air Canada, Finnair, Turkish- you can stay in a city for 1-7 days (based on the airline) and they also offer incentives like free or cheap hotels to promote visiting there. Google search this before you next trip!
Hope these are helpful! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and share any other useful tips you have with me!
Written by: Ashley Bylsma Travel RN and MedVenturist