Being a Travel Nurse And Working the Holidays

This is the first year of my nursing career that I have been assigned to work all three major holidays.


So far, I have worked Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. I will also be working New Year’s Eve this year. When you work in the hospital as a nurse and you are permanent staff, you rotate holidays every year (i.e work Christmas, off Thanksgiving, work Christmas, off New Year’s, vice versa). The minor holidays fall into that as well like Labor Day, Memorial Day, MLK Day, etc. but you can work those out easier than the major holidays. Major holidays are typically required for all staff, literally all hands are on deck (including travel nurses) during the three major holidays of the year: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s. The higher-ups frown upon you calling out on any of these days unless it is an absolute emergency.

FUN FACT: HOSPITALS STAY OPEN 24/7/365/366 (on a leap year).

Holidays are a non-factor when it comes to working in a hospital. People still get sick. People still get hurt. Accidents happen. Crises occur. Families need support. Patients need care.


Regardless of my smile in the picture, I honestly did not feel like working on Thanksgiving. I had missed the Thanksgiving holiday with my family due to me having to come back to Richmond to work. I scheduled myself to work on Thanksgiving because my mom had hip surgery that same week and I had to make up my time since I took off for her surgery. Like I always tell y’all if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. PTO is non-existent for a travel nurse. But, since I worked Thanksgiving, you think I would have Christmas off and possibly work New Year’s Day right? WRONG. When I saw the schedule and realized that I was also working Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, I was devastated. As a travel nurse, I stand up for myself when necessary so I did go to my manager about my concerns and to let her know that it wasn’t fair to have me work every major holiday. To make a long story short, there was nothing I could do about it.


On the bright side, I was off on Christmas Eve and my family actually made their way up to Virginia and spent the Christmas holiday with me. We got an Airbnb in a beach town called Gwynn, Virginia. It was a little over a hour away from Richmond, but I was perfectly fine with making the drive to see my family. I had a great Christmas and enjoyed the time with my family so much. We had our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve and opened up presents early on Christmas Day. I still had to go to work that night and yes sleep was sacrificed, but I would do it all over again. It truly made me happy that even with me being scheduled to work, I still got to spend time with my family and have a great holiday. 




Being a travel nurse itself is hard enough. You are away from your family and friends so you miss out on certain events and special occasions. You do not get PTO or sick leave so if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Imagine all of that, plus working the holidays which sucks all on its own if family and quality time is important to you. In this life, it is not always about what happens to you. It is about how you handle it. Yes, I was disappointed but at the end of the day, I realized that it is bigger than me. There are patients in the hospital who don't want to be there probably as much, if not more, than I do. My sister-mentee Anita tells me that I am special to be taking care of other people’s families on the holidays. Sometimes as a nurse, you do not realize the impact you make on people until someone reminds you. The holidays will definitely put that in perspective, at least it did for me.

I want to share six tips that my travel nurse company, RN Network, put together on how to stay happy while working the holidays as a travel nurse. I am just going to list them, but you can read the full article written by Lindsay Wilcox by clicking this link:

  1. Remember that you’re helping others.

  2. Take advantage of extra holiday pay (can be very convincing sometimes).

  3. Focus on making new traditions.

  4. Celebrate holidays on the day after your shift.

  5. Take extra time off later.

  6. Keep in touch with family during your shift.


So yes, I am working New Year’s Eve while my friends and family will be out celebrating and spending time with loved ones. But guess what? I’m off New Year’s Day so my first day of 2019 will start off with me taking care of patients and getting much needed rest afterwards :)) Hope you all stay safe, have a wonderful holiday season, and a Happy New Year! 2019, we’re ready for you!

Live life, love always, and don’t forget to smile,