50 Useful Travel Nursing Tips for First-Timers in 2024

preparing for travel nursing

Are you an experienced nurse looking for some excitement and a change but not sure what options are available? Do you enjoy traveling? Does meeting new people and learning about new cultures excite you? If so, have you considered what it would be like to become a travel nurse? Perhaps you are wondering how to get started or asking, "What are some useful tips for first-time travel nurses?” If this sounds like you, the 50 useful travel nursing tips for first-timers in 2024 featured in this article are just for you!


1. learn about travel nursing and what it involves., 2. determine your availability to work as a travel nurse., 3. consider working as a float nurse at your current nursing job., 4. consider getting a compact nursing license., 5. update your resume., 6. make sure all licenses and certifications, and immunizations are current., 7. create a medical records portfolio and keep it up to date., 8. gather necessary documents., 9. get excellent letters of professional reference., 10. don't burn bridges., 11. choose the type of transportation you want to use., 12. take care of the tiny details, so you don't feel overwhelmed later., 13. do your research., 14. consider getting a recruiter or agency representative., 15. prepare for the interview., 16. be honest with recruiters and potential employers., 17. ask questions., 18. read the fine print in your contract., 19. create a budget., 20. find out what the early cancellation penalty is., 21. ask if you will be reimbursed if the hospital cancels your contract., 22. consider getting a personal liability insurance policy., 23. think about health insurance., 24. be flexible., 25. plan for housing., 26. don’t pack your whole house, 27. get to know other travel nurses., 28. don’t forget about your fur-babies, 29. be confident about your knowledge and skills., 30. try not to take things personally., 31. if you have a recruiter, stay connected with them., 32. accept assignments with an open mind., 33. don’t forget self-care, 34. arrive in your new town a few days early, if possible., 35. be early for work., 36. find a mentor., 37. learn coping mechanisms to help reduce stress and promote a positive outlook., 38. develop friendships with your new coworkers., 39. enjoy your new town, 40. embrace opportunities to learn and master new skills., 41. create a healthy work-life balance., 42. leave work at work., 43. don’t limit yourself to one agency., 44. remember, travel nurse agencies and recruiters work for you as much as you work for them., 45. consider earning a certification., 46. get experience in different specialty areas., 47. never stop learning, 48. be committed., 49. prepare for your next assignment., 50. have fun, useful resources to help prepare for your first ever travel nursing assignment, youtube videos, • travel nursing 101: what to know before you travel (don’t get played on your 1st contract) -, • travel nurses who left staff jobs reflect on newfound freedom -, • behind the scrubs: the travel nurse experience -, • atlas all access- travel nursing where you belong -, • hitting the road: a guide to travel nursing, • the truth about travel nursing, websites/blogs, my final thoughts, frequently asked questions answered by our expert, 1. is it a good idea to start as a travel nurse right out of college, 2. will travel nursing look good on my nursing resume, 3. when can i start applying for my first travel nursing assignment, 4. what do i need to make sure of in my first travel nurse contract, 5. as a first-time travel nurse, can i choose where to go, 6. i'd prefer to drive to my first travel nursing job. can i do that, 7. what if i get my first travel nursing assignment and i hate it, 8. as a first-time travel nurse, can i make my own schedule, 9. do first-time travel nurses get health insurance and 401k, 10. as a first timer, can i negotiate my pay with my travel nurse recruiter, 11. as a first-time travel nurse, how much will i make, 12. will my first travel nurse stipend be taxable, 13. can first-time travel nurses travel on international assignments.

preparing for travel nursing

preparing for travel nursing

Travel Nursing Made Easy: 25 Insider Tips and Tricks

  • Last Updated: July 30, 2023

A travel nurse is a registered nurse who works temporary assignments in different healthcare facilities and locations, often across different states or countries, to fill staffing needs and provide care to patients in various settings.

Travel nursing is a compelling and rewarding career path that allows nurses to work in different healthcare facilities nationwide. As a travel nurse, you get to experience new places, work with different patients and staff, and earn competitive salaries with bonuses and benefits. 

However, travel nursing can also be challenging and overwhelming, especially for those new to the field. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help make travel nursing easy for you. In this article, we’ll provide insider tips and tricks to help you navigate the travel nursing world with confidence and ease. 

Whether you’re a seasoned travel nurse or just starting, these tips will be valuable in making your experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Table of contents

1. learn about travel nursing & what it involves, 2. consider working as a float nurse at your current nursing job, 3. speak to other travel nurses you may know, 4. ensure your licenses, certifications, and immunizations are up-to-date, 5. make sure you’ve found the right recruiter, 6. be honest with recruiters & potential employers, 7. determine your availability to work as a travel nurse, 8. prepare for the interview, 9. understand your contract, 10. ask questions, 11. be organized and prepared, 12. gather all your necessary documents, 13. choose the type of transportation you want to use, 14. be flexible, 15. research your destination, 16. know your travel-nursing essentials, 17. plan for housing, 18. get to your new town a day early, 19. find a mentor, 20. be friendly, positive, and a team player, 21. embrace new opportunities and challenges, 22. don’t take things personally, 23. don’t burn bridges, 24. practice self-care, 25. enjoy your new town, takeaway .

Discover expert tips and tricks from experienced travel nurses to make your nursing experience more manageable, enjoyable, and successful!

Before embarking on a travel nursing career, it’s crucial to gain a thorough understanding of the industry and its demands. Delve into extensive research, engage in conversations with experienced travel nurses, and ask insightful questions to ascertain whether this unique career path aligns with your aspirations and goals.

If you’re interested in travel nursing but are still determining if it’s the right path, consider working as a float nurse at your current nursing job. This will allow you to experience working in different departments as well as gain the necessary skills for travel nursing.

Talking to other travel nurses can provide valuable insights and tips for a successful travel nursing experience. Ask them about their experiences, the challenges they’ve faced, and what they wish they had known before starting.

Before starting your travel nursing assignment, make sure all your licenses, certifications, and immunizations are up-to-date. This will ensure a smooth transition to your new job without any stressful delays.

Finding the right recruiter can significantly impact your travel nursing experience. Look for recruiters with a good track record, strong communication skills, and a willingness to advocate for your needs. Click here to discover the top-rated travel nursing agencies.

Honesty is crucial in travel nursing. Be transparent with your recruiter and potential employers about your expectations, preferences, and limitations to ensure a successful and fulfilling experience.

Consider your personal and professional commitments when determining your availability to work as a travel nurse. Be realistic about your schedule and preferences to avoid any conflicts or stress.

Prepare for your interview by researching the facility, reviewing common interview questions, and practicing your responses. Dress professionally and bring copies of your resume and licenses.

Before signing your contract, make sure you understand the terms and conditions, including pay, benefits, housing, and any penalties for canceling or extending your assignment.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout the process. Clarify any doubts, and seek guidance from your recruiter or fellow travel nurses if needed.

Stay organized and prepared by creating a checklist of necessary documents, packing essentials, and important contacts. This will help you stay on top of tasks and avoid any last-minute stress.

Before starting your assignment, gather all your necessary documents, such as licenses, certifications, immunization records, and insurance information.

Consider the type of transportation you want to use for your assignment. Options include driving, flying, or using public transport. Choose the most convenient and cost-effective option for you.

Cultivating flexibility is essential for thriving as a travel nurse. Be ready to acclimate to diverse healthcare environments, fluctuating work schedules, collaborating with various colleagues, and adjusting to new living arrangements to ensure a successful and fulfilling career.

Another important aspect of travel nursing is researching your destination. Knowing what to expect in your new location is essential whether you are moving across the country or just a few hours away. 

Researching things like the cost of living, local attractions, and cultural norms can help you better prepare for your move and make the transition easier.

As a travel nurse, there are certain items that you should always have on hand. These essentials can vary from person to person, but some examples include a good pair of comfortable shoes, a reliable stethoscope, and a laptop for documentation. Having these items readily available can make your job easier and less stressful.

Finding a place to live in a new town can be daunting, but there are several options for travel nurses. Some travel nursing companies offer housing options, while others provide stipends for you to find housing. 

Researching housing options ahead of time and working with your recruiter can help you find a comfortable and affordable place to live.

Arriving in your new town a day early can help you settle in before starting your new job. Use this extra time to get familiar with your new surroundings, stock up on any necessities, and relax before your first day on the job.

A good mentor can be a valuable resource for any travel nurse. They can provide guidance and support as you navigate your new job and surroundings. Look for opportunities to connect with other nurses in your unit or at social events to find potential mentors.

Being friendly, positive, and a team player can go a long way in making your travel nursing experience successful. You will be working with new colleagues and patients, and having a positive attitude can help you build relationships and make a good impression.

Travel nursing offers the opportunity to work in new settings and gain valuable experience. Embrace these opportunities and challenges as a way to grow as a nurse and expand your skills.

You may encounter different workplace cultures and communication styles as a travel nurse. It’s essential not to take things personally and to maintain a professional attitude throughout your assignment.

Leaving a job can be difficult, but it’s important to maintain positive relationships with colleagues and employers. You never know when you may reencounter these individuals; burning bridges can have long-term consequences for your career.

Finally, practicing self-care is essential for any nurse, especially for travel nurses who are often away from their support systems. Take time for yourself to recharge and engage in activities that bring you joy in order to avoid burnout.

Lastly, remember to enjoy the new town! Travel nursing offers the opportunity to explore new places and make new memories. Take advantage of your time off to explore the local area and try new things.

Travel nursing can be an exciting and rewarding career path, but it can also come with its own set of challenges. From being organized and prepared to practicing self-care, there are many ways you can ensure your success as a travel nurse. 

Following these insider tips and tricks can make your travel nursing experience much easier and more enjoyable. Remember to stay flexible, embrace new opportunities and challenges, and enjoy your new town. 

Nurse Luke is a CRNA who specializes in Nursing content and still enjoys a very busy career with Locum, Per Diem and Travel nursing in the greater midwest. He has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare field and received his CRNA masters degree from the Mayo Clinic School of Healthcare. He is passionate about helping nurses explore the options of becoming a travel nurse as well as spending time with his Family. 

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preparing for travel nursing

10 Ways to Prepare for a Career in Travel Nursing

Life as a travel nurse can be tremendously rewarding, letting you see the country or the world. You can even live as a snowbird, working in warm climates during the winter and moderate ones during the summer.

There are potential downsides, however, like the stress of travel, always adapting to new workplaces, and maintaining relationships with loved ones. Read on to learn the tips and tricks of personal, career, and financial success as a travel nurse .

1. Explore Travel Nursing

Travel nurse blogs are a great way to learn about travel nursing , what to expect, what to watch out for, and the pros and cons.

American Traveler is a blog for travel nurses, written by one of the top travel nursing agencies. It’s full of advice for travel nurses, especially ones who are new to travel nursing. Topics include adapting to life on the road, geographic locations that need travel nurses, and how to get started as a travel nurse.

Jackson Nurse Professionals is another top travel nursing agency with practical advice for travel nurses. Recent topics include winter locations for travel nursing, maintaining relationships while on assignment, and popular podcasts for travel nurses.

The Traveling Nurse covers the world travels of a pediatric nurse and mixes travel observations with advice for travel nurses.

The Traveling NP blog is written by a nurse practitioner who discusses career issues such as relationships with recruiters, traveling during COVID-19, and networking. She shares personal stories, recommendations for best hotels and travel credit cards, and her experiences at different work sites.

The Fabuleux Nurse blog is a compelling personal story of a traveling nurse who has multiple sclerosis. She informs and inspires, describing her life as a traveling nurse, coping strategies for stress, and career and lifestyle tips.

2. Network With Current Travel Nurses

Talk with nurses who are currently traveling. If you don’t know any travel nurses to network with, ask your nurse friends if any of their friends are travel nurses. If so, ask for an introduction so that you can get the inside scoop. Invite them out to dinner or coffee, as a return favor for being informally interviewed. Another option is to reach out to travel nurses on social media .

You can also try coordinating your first assignment with a friend or travel nurse who has already worked on your unit. Having one familiar face could make a big difference as hospital staff will all be new to you.

3. Research Travel Nursing Agencies

After exploring travel nursing, and networking with others, do homework on travel agencies. Don’t make a commitment to one agency right away. Keep your options open until you find the right company and recruiter. Travel nursing agencies vary in rules, benefits, and assignment quality. Be honest and forthright with pushy recruiters who may want you to commit from the beginning. Tell them that you are looking out for your own interests and stand firm.

4. Don’t Burn Your Bridges

Think ahead. If you are planning a career as a travel nurse , don’t burn your bridges to your former places of employment. For example, you may wish to return to your old job if you decide to take a break or decide you don’t like this area of nursing.

5. Consider Becoming a Float Nurse at Your Current Job

Travel nursing requires that a nurse be comfortable in different hospitals while performing their job with skill and ease. One way to simulate a travel nurse experience is to become a float nurse at your present job.

  • Do you hate to float because supplies are in an unfamiliar spot?
  • Don’t know your coworkers?
  • Are you upset that the patients’ rooms are not in a familiar layout?
  • Are you used to a specific nurse to patient ratio?
  • Or, would you view these issues as a challenge instead of being frustrated?

Remember when you are on assignment, you will be in an unfamiliar facility. Everything will probably be different, from the flow of parking to the computer system. If you don’t float in your own facility comfortably, you may want to reconsider travel nursing (or at least have a backup plan).

6. Have a Savings Account

Most travel nursing agencies offer a housing allowance or furnished housing. However, there will be expenses to pay upfront, even if they reimburse you. It is not a pleasant feeling to be in an unfamiliar place without cash as a safety net.

  • What if you arrive at your prearranged housing only to discover it is inadequate?
  • Do you have money set aside for a hotel room until your accommodations are replaced?
  • How about the water, sewage, and electricity deposits? Will you need to cover them or does the company?
  • Will you need to connect cable, internet, and TV?

Be sure to know what is included in your travel nurse contract and what is not. A savings account gives you a cushion until your first paycheck arrives.

7. Gain Specialty Experience in Needed Areas

As preparation for a travel nurse career, consider gaining nursing specialty experience in areas that travel nurses are most needed, or even a couple of different areas. The more versatile your skills are, the more options for assignments and locations you will have.

8. Earn Specialty Nurse Certification

You will increase your potential career worth by not only diversifying your areas of expertise, but by earning specialty nurse certification in those areas. It could set you apart when applying to popular travel hot spots and assignments.

9. Keep Your Basic Certifications Up to Date

Basic life support and advanced cardiovascular life support are needed by all nurses to work in most facilities. Also, be sure to get basic certifications that are required for nurses working in a specialty. For example, in pediatrics you will need pediatric advanced life support certification.

10. Keep Your Medical Records Portfolio Up to Date

Different travel agencies have different ways of handling medical records that are required for the nurse’s assignment sites. Be sure to keep a portfolio of immunizations, flu shots, and tuberculosis skin tests handy at all times, if requested.

Reviewed by:

Portrait of Brandy Gleason, MSN, MHA, BC-NC

Brandy Gleason, MSN, MHA, BC-NC

Brandy Gleason is a nursing professional with nearly 20 years of varied nursing experience. Gleason currently teaches as an assistant professor of nursing within a prelicensure nursing program and coaches graduate students. Her passion and area of research centers around coaching nurses and nursing students to build resilience and avoid burnout.

Gleason is a paid member of our Healthcare Review Partner Network. Learn more about our review partners .

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First-Time Travel Nursing: 7 Key Steps to Prepare For Your Assignment

preparing for travel nursing

Reviewed by Hannah Wilson BSN, RN, CCRN

Published: January 1, 2024

Read Time: 4 minute read

Have you heard the adage “jobs may fill your pockets, but adventures fill your soul”? It certainly rings true for most— unless you’re starting a career as a travel nurse.

Travel nursing provides a unique and exciting opportunity to grow professionally and help patients across the country while exploring new cities and making new friends. But as you prepare for your first adventure, you may find yourself frantically asking Alexa how to prepare for first travel nurse assignment . Fortunately, we have your answers right here. 

Read on for 7 steps for navigating your first travel nursing assignment .

#1. Research Potential Assignments and Locations

Whether you envision serving as a travel nurse in the rolling, sun-splashed hills of Napa or the vast landscape of Juneau, examining potential assignments and how they align with your preferred destinations is arguably the first and most important step in the process.

That said, you may want to shy away from gathering your information from sites designed for tourists, which usually only provide a snapshot of a locale’s leading qualities. Instead, consider seeking direction from:

  • Travel nursing recruiters
  • Fellow travel nurses and other healthcare professionals
  • Online discussion forums

From there, narrow down your search to states that allow nurses to practice with a multistate license in a contract known as the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC). To date, 38 of the 50 states allow for this, as well as two U.S. territories. 

#2. Secure Licensure and Certifications

Licensure may seem tricky for travel nurses who bounce between Baltimore and Boise, but it’s actually much less complicated than you might think: You must obtain (and maintain) licensure in the state of your permanent residence and, again, accept assignments that are part of the NLC.

Don’t see the state you’re intent on experiencing? You might be in a position to apply for a state-specific license (a process that may take some time), or, in some states, apply for an expedited track to a temporary license. 

Additionally, like all nurses, you typically must hold up-to-date certifications in Basic Life Support (BLS). However, if you’ve obtained other certifications, such as your Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) or Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), highlight it on your travel nurse resume. It may help you stand out from the competition. 

#3. Organize Important Documents and Certifications

There are few things more terrifying than finding yourself stranded in an unfamiliar city without proper documentation. To this end, ensure you have copies of your:

  • Driver’s license, social security card, and/or passport
  • Immunization records
  • Medical records and clearances
  • Certifications and licenses

#4. Prepare Yourself Financially for Travel Nursing Assignments

Fact: Contracts can fall through. 

This can leave you in a pickle— without the paycheck you were planning to use for bills and other expenses. 

With this in mind, consider holding off on accepting your first travel nursing assignment until you have enough money saved up to manage a canceled agreement.

#5. Plan Your Housing and Accommodations 

Depending on the travel nursing agency you work with, this tip may be relatively easy to achieve. This is because some travel nursing recruiting agencies offer housing assistance . Still, it may be to your benefit to explore listings on sites such as:

  • Furnished Finder
  • Transplant Housing

#6. Understand Contract Terms and Conditions

One of the greatest advantages of travel nursing is that it allows you to determine which months of the year you’d like to work (and, oftentimes, where ), but it’s vital to understand precisely what you’re getting into before signing a legally binding agreement.

This is where it’s especially helpful to have a recruiter by your side. They can walk you through the terms—such as the length of your assignment, your shifts, your duties, and your pay rate—and assist you with negotiations.

Handling it all on your own? Be sure to also negotiate travel expenses, benefits, and reimbursements. 

#7. Pay Mind to the Details

How to prepare for first travel nurse assignment well also boils down to focusing on the particulars, including:

  • Creating a plan that addresses how you are going to get to the location of your assignment, whether that entail a road trip or plane ride
  • Packing the essentials, including attire to sport on your off days
  • Learning about the location

Lastly, to make your first travel nursing assignment (as well as those to come) the most rewarding, create a list of your expectations and goals while you’re on assignment. Then, strive to meet them. 

Fulfill Your Travel Nursing Dreams with Host Healthcare

Travel nursing is an incredibly unique occupation that enables nurses to pack up their skills—literally—and offer care to patients in cities across the country. Nonetheless, a fair amount of trepidation is understandable and even expected before your first assignment. By following the steps outlined above, you can embark on your first travel nursing adventure with confidence. And Host Healthcare can help. 

At Host Healthcare, we pair nurses with dedicated recruiters who provide exclusive access to thousands of healthcare jobs in cities all over the United States. Plus, we have your back every step of the way, taking care of paperwork, negotiations, housing, benefits, and more so that you can focus on making the most out of your experience. 

Apply now to kickstart your travel nursing career into first gear!

“Nursing Compact States.” NurseJournal , 20 Dec. 2023, nursejournal.org/resources/nursing-compact-states/. Accessed 20 Dec. 2023. 

“How to Become a Travel Nurse.” ANA , 18 May 2023, www.nursingworld.org/resources/individual/how-to-become-travel-nurse/. Accessed 20 Dec. 2023. 

Faubion, Darby. 50 Useful Travel Nursing Tips for First-Timers in 2023 , Nursing Process, www.nursingprocess.org/travel-nursing-tips.html. Accessed 20 Dec. 2023. 

Yang, Y. Tony, and Diana J. Mason. “Covid-19’s Impact on Nursing Shortages, the Rise of Travel Nurses, And …” COVID-19’s Impact On Nursing Shortages, The Rise Of Travel Nurses, And Price Gouging , Health Affairs, 28 Jan. 2022, www.healthaffairs.org/content/forefront/covid-19-s-impact-nursing-shortages-rise-travel-nurses-and-price-gouging. Accessed 20 Dec. 2023. 

Morris, Gayle. “6 Tips for Negotiating Your Travel Nurse Contract.” NurseJournal , 14 Jan. 2023, nursejournal.org/articles/travel-nurse-contract-negotiations/. Accessed 20 Dec. 2023. 

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preparing for travel nursing

preparing for travel nursing

Preparing for Your First Travel Nursing Assignment: A Checklist

  • May 2, 2023

As a travel nurse, your first assignment can be a thrilling and daunting experience at the same time. It is a chance to explore new places, meet new people, and advance your nursing career. However, it can also be overwhelming to prepare for your first travel nursing assignment. That’s why we have put together a checklist to help you get ready for your first assignment. 

1. Research Your Destination

Before you embark on your travel nursing assignment, research your destination thoroughly. This includes finding out the weather conditions, local transportation options, and the best places to eat and visit. You can also learn about the local culture, customs, and languages to help you prepare better.

2. Confirm Your Assignment Details

It’s crucial to ensure that you have all the necessary information about your assignment. This includes the start and end dates, location, and shift schedules. You should also confirm the type of nursing job you’ll be doing, such as a critical care nurse, emergency room nurse, or a general nurse.

3. Secure Your Housing 

Housing is a crucial aspect of your travel nursing assignment. It’s essential to secure a comfortable and safe place to stay during your assignment. You can opt for corporate housing, extended stay hotels, or furnished apartments. Ensure that your housing meets your needs and preferences.

4. Pack Accordingly

Packing for your travel nursing assignment can be challenging. You’ll need to pack clothing and essentials for both work and leisure. Pack comfortable and functional work clothes and shoes. Also, pack casual wear for your leisure time. Additionally, ensure that you have all the necessary travel documents, such as your nursing license, certifications, and identification. 

5. Prepare for Your First Day

The first day of your travel nursing assignment can be overwhelming. It’s crucial to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. Review your job responsibilities, familiarize yourself with the facility, and introduce yourself to your colleagues. Also, ask any questions you may have to ensure you’re comfortable with your new role. 

Preparing for your first travel nursing assignment can be a daunting task, but with the right preparation, it can be a rewarding experience. By following this checklist, you can prepare yourself adequately, and confidently embark on your travel nursing journey.

preparing for travel nursing

From a Staff Nurse to Travel Nurse: Everything You Need to Know to Expand Your Career

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preparing for travel nursing

Can You Be a Travel Nurse as a New Grad: Exploring the Possibilities

preparing for travel nursing

Table of Contents

Are you a new nursing graduate looking to take on an adventure while building your nursing career? Consider travel nursing! This field offers exciting opportunities for personal and career growth. In this article, we explore the possibilities of becoming a travel nurse as a new graduate. From understanding the basics of travel nursing to evaluating job opportunities and securing a position, you'll find all you need to know to kick-start your travel nursing career.


Understanding Travel Nursing for New Graduates

What is travel nursing.

Travel nursing is a unique career path that allows registered nurses (RNs) to take on temporary assignments in various locations across the country or even internationally. These assignments typically range from 8 to 26 weeks, although they can be shorter or longer depending on the healthcare facility's needs. Grad travel nurse jobs are available for new grad RNs who are looking to use their newly acquired skills while exploring different cities and states.

Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing for New Grads

There are several advantages to pursuing grad travel nurse jobs as opposed to traditional, permanent nursing positions. Some of the benefits include higher pay, opportunities for professional development, exposure to diverse patient populations, and the chance to travel and explore new cities. Grad RNs can also enjoy more flexibility in their schedules and can take breaks between assignments if desired.

While travel nursing offers many benefits, it also comes with certain challenges. Some of the downsides include difficulty maintaining personal relationships, limited job security, less control over assignments, and the stress of frequently relocating and adjusting to new environments. It's essential for new grad nurses to weigh the pros and cons of travel nursing to determine whether it's the right fit for them.

Transitioning from Registered Nurse to Travel Nurse

Newly graduated nurses might feel overwhelmed with the idea of transitioning from being an RN to pursuing travel nurse positions. Rachel Norton, an experienced travel nurse, advises new graduates to start by networking with other healthcare workers and speaking with recruiters from travel nursing agencies to gather as much information as possible. Joining online forums and attending industry events can also help grad nurses create a support system of experienced travel nurses who can offer guidance and encouragement.

Grad Travel Nurse Requirements and Eligibility

Required nursing experience for travel nurses.

While some travel nursing positions require at least one to two years of nursing experience, many travel nursing agencies offer opportunities specifically tailored to new grad travel nurses. Some recruitment teams will work closely with new clinical professionals, such as grad RNs, to identify the right travel nursing jobs that align with their skills and areas of expertise. It's important for new grads to communicate their desired goals and skills to recruiters and potential employers to find suitable travel assignments.

Essential Skills and Qualities for Grad Travel Nurses

Apart from the required nursing education and licensing, grad travel nurses need to possess a certain set of skills and qualities to succeed in their roles. These include:

  • Adaptability: Since travel nurses work in different healthcare facilities, they must quickly adapt to new work environments and adhere to various policies and procedures.
  • Strong communication abilities: Travel nurses must effectively communicate with patients, families, and healthcare team members to ensure they provide optimal patient care.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving: Travel nurses often deal with unique situations and challenges, and it's essential to possess critical thinking and problem-solving skills to handle these cases appropriately.
  • Time management: Balancing patient care with documentation, training, and other responsibilities requires good time management skills.
  • Resilience and emotional stability: Travel nurses must be prepared to manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Educational and Licensing Considerations

To work as a grad travel nurse, candidates must fulfill certain educational and licensing requirements. Firstly, candidates must complete an accredited nursing program, such as an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

After obtaining the necessary education and passing the licensure exam, aspiring travel nurses must be licensed in the state where they plan to practice. Generally, new grad nurses should apply for licensure in their home state and obtain additional licensure for each state where they accept travel assignments. However, nurses living in a compact state can obtain a multi-state license, allowing them to practice in any of the 34 participating compact states without applying for a separate license in each state.

Many travel nursing agencies also require additional documentation, such as a professional resume, reference letters, and proof of immunizations. Candidates must ensure they meet all these requirements before starting their job search in the travel nursing field.

Preparing for a Successful Travel Nursing Career

As new grad nurses consider travel nursing jobs, it's essential to create nursing smart goals and career objectives that align with their personal values and professional aspirations. A clear career roadmap can guide their job search and help them choose appropriate travel assignments. Having a solid support system and a reliable travel nursing agency can further enhance new grad nurses' success as they embark on their journey in this exciting and rewarding career path.

Finding and Securing Travel Nursing Jobs for New Grads

Job search strategies for grad travel nurses.

As a grad travel nurse, finding and securing your ideal job can seem challenging, but it doesn't have to be. Start by getting familiar with grad travel nurse requirements and setting nursing smart goals for yourself. With the proper plan and motivation, you are well on your way to kicking off your career in this exciting field.

Begin by narrowing your job search. Identify the type of facility, patient population, or nursing specialty that appeals to you. Research the various travel nursing agencies and their offerings for grad travel nurse jobs. Develop a clear list of your priorities and preferences for your dream job, such as location, shift, and contract length.

Networking is an essential aspect of a successful job search strategy. Connect with experienced healthcare workers in the travel nursing community or create a LinkedIn profile to increase your visibility. Following travel nursing agencies and recruitment teams on social media can also help you stay informed about available travel nursing jobs and provide you with valuable resources and insights.

Your nursing school professors, clinical instructors, and preceptors can be great resources as well. Reach out to them for advice on gaining experience, writing a solid nursing resume, and obtaining strong reference letters. The connections and relationships you built during nursing school may just be the key to your first travel assignment.

Evaluating and Comparing Travel Nursing Jobs

Once you receive job offers, take the time to carefully review and compare them. Pay close attention to factors like pay, company reputation, housing options, and benefits packages. Research the locations of the potential assignments to determine their compatibility with your personal needs and preferences. Revisit your nursing smart goals, and ensure that any opportunity you consider aligns with your career objectives.

If you have graduated from an accredited nursing program and hold a nursing license but have less than one year of experience, it might be challenging to find your ideal role in the travel nursing industry. However, some travel nursing agencies have programs specifically designed for grad RNs. These agencies can help you work on honing your skills, while also offering valuable travel nursing experience and mentorship.

Keep in mind that states have their own licensing requirements. If you have a nursing license from a compact state, you have the advantage of working in any other compact state without needing an additional license. Be sure to verify your nursing license status and research state-specific requirements when evaluating travel assignments.

Seek assignments that fall within your clinical range, but slightly push your comfort zone. By choosing these roles, you'll expand your skills and knowledge base, making you an even stronger candidate for future travel nurse positions.

Partnering with Trusted Nurse Staffing Agencies

Working with a reputable travel nursing agency can make a significant difference in your job search and overall experience as a travel nurse. Look for agencies that offer a plethora of resources, such as helpful blog articles, success stories, and support from experienced recruiters. These factors can all play a role in helping you build a successful career in travel nursing.

Grad travel nurses who are new to the industry can benefit from partnering with staffing agencies that offer specialized programs for new grads. These agencies can assist you in finding suitable travel nurse positions, while also offering mentorship and resources that cater to your specific needs. Choose an agency with a strong commitment to quality patient care, a good relationship with medical facilities, and dedicated support for new grad RNs.

Before signing a contract with any agency, be prepared to ask questions. Don't hesitate to clarify anything you're unsure about or seek additional information regarding their policies, guarantees, or support services. By taking the time to gather essential information, you're more likely to select a travel nursing agency that meets your expectations and assists you in achieving your nursing smart goals.

In conclusion, embarking on your journey as a travel nurse is an exciting and rewarding experience, especially for new grads. By familiarizing yourself with the grad travel nurse requirements, conducting a targeted job search, evaluating and comparing job offers, and partnering with trusted nurse staffing agencies, you will set yourself up for success in this dynamic and beneficial profession.


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Future of Travel Nursing: Preparing for Transitions After COVID-19

Team of four nurses looking at a patient's file

Whether you were on the frontlines when COVID-19 unfolded at unprecedented speeds or in your final year of nursing school, it’s hardly news that the pandemic fundamentally changed the world—including the realm of health care.

Now, in our “post-pandemic” universe (yes, even as the illness continues to pose a threat across the globe), we’re continuing to see how COVID-19 has impacted the medical field and the nurses it employs. Additional PPE is largely required, while telehealth has moved from a niche practice to downright prevalent. Compensation has increased right alongside the demand for nurses—a shortage that has been partly fueled by professional burnout. And last but not least, nurses have become increasingly aware of their utter importance and asking for change.

But will these crucial shifts affect travel nurses in particular, and what does the future hold for travel nurses, period?

The Future of Travel Nursing in 2023

With a lot of strain on our health systems, is health care a good career path? In order to get a better handle on the future of travel nursing after COVID-19, we should first reflect upon the past and examine how the changes in nursing are impacting us today:

  • The demand for travel nurses rose dramatically during the pandemic – Travel nursing has long held widespread appeal for registered nurses searching for flexibility, solid pay, and the opportunity to explore other towns and cities. During the pandemic, the need for travel nurses positively skyrocketed: In 2020, the profession rose 35% from the preceding year.  

This was primarily due to two critical factors: 1) an overall shortage of nurses in various health care settings (keep in mind that there was a nursing shortage even before COVID-19 rocked the world), and 2) professional burnout, with 66% of 5,600 nurses surveyed by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses reporting that they’re considering leaving their profession.

  • Some states waived licensures – Nurse.org reports that, at the height of the pandemic—when a state of emergency was declared—states forewent state licensure to fill nursing staff shortages. Other states accepted temporary licenses. This paved the way for travel nurses to work at different facilities across the nation—and allowed them to provide care during a tremendous “hour” of need.
  • The need for travel nurses will continue to rise – According to some estimates, the need for travel nurses will only continue to escalate—the field is expected to rise another 40% in the future. This bodes extremely well for anyone who is weighing the pros and cons of the future of travel nursing.
  • Wages for travel nurses may escalate even more – COVID-19 may have been an exceptionally distressing time for nurses—before and after vaccines were widely released, with 76% of nurses in the survey quoted above stating that unvaccinated patients “ threatened their mental and physical well-being.”

At the same time, travel nurse pay increased as well. The average travel nurse salary grew by 25% in April 2020 at the onset of the pandemic, with some travel nurses now earning between $5,000 and $10,000 per week.

  • The interest in travel nursing has increased – Flexibility with scheduling, higher pay, the capacity to see different parts of the country, and the excellent benefits afforded by travel nursing agencies —all have motivated people to consider pursuing the profession. According to Indeed, interest in travel nursing roles has continued to ascend; searches for travel nursing positions are roughly five times higher than they were before the pandemic hit.

Lastly, more and more nurses are permanently leaving their positions, in part because of the mental and physical challenges they experienced during the pandemic. This will lead to increased shortages and—you guessed it—a more immediate need for travel nurses to fulfill these empty roles.

Ready to get started with your job search? Learn more…

How Has COVID-19 Affected Health Organizations?

Every healthcare organization around the globe was acutely taxed during the pandemic, and its employees felt it. A high level of professional burnout was felt across medical care facilities, from large city hospitals to small community clinics. 

In fact, according to a survey performed at the beginning of the pandemic by American Nurses Foundation, roughly half of nurses reported feelings of angst, overwhelm, and irritability.  

Meaning, nurses were desperately needed, but they were also tested.

Indeed, if there’s one thing that the pandemic has reminded the world, it is this: People in the medical profession are invaluable . 

Travel nurses may have started bringing in a more lucrative income during the pandemic, but they were also working exceptionally hard: in January of 2022, the number of hours travel nurses put in rose 23% from the previous year.

Now, nurses have become empowered—and are advocating for change and health equity. Typically, nurses are:

  • Exploring new avenues in their field that extend beyond bedside care and into medical research, home care nursing, and telehealth
  • Requesting higher pay
  • Asking for stronger mental health policies
  • Demanding better protection for themselves
  • Petitioning for block booking

And because the need for nurses isn’t going anywhere anytime soon—the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the field will continue to grow by 6%—nurses may be in a better position than ever to receive what they request.  

To this end, many nurses are choosing to work with reliable travel nursing agencies to pair them with places and opportunities that will fulfill their wishes.

How to Adapt as a Travel Nurse

Whether you have just launched a career as a travel nurse intent on capitalizing on the positive wave of change in the profession or have recently started exploring traveling nursing jobs , you may be feeling a tad… daunted by what is ahead of you.

And yet, with some advance planning, you can easily adapt as a travel nurse. Here are a few tips:

  • Embrace (and hone) flexibility – It goes without saying that working as a travel nurse necessitates working in numerous facilities in numerous locations—and each facility will have their own way of running the proverbial ship. 

“Go with the flow” may be overused, but it’s imperative in this particular career. Embracing new policies and adapting to new procedures, knowing that it is part of your role, is key to dodging frustration and becoming a trustworthy, helpful member of any medical team.

  • Consider self-care one of your primary responsibilities – When it comes to nursing, you know that you must put on your own oxygen mask first in order to survive and be of assistance to others. This takes on a new degree of urgency and importance in the travel nursing field. On top of caring for your patients and working with a new staff, you are also adjusting to a new home environment and, in some cases (and at some times), also recovering from traveling. 

This is where, why, and when self-care becomes an absolute necessity for travel nurses. Ensure that you clock in consistent, quality sleep, eat often and nutritiously to maintain your energy levels, hydrate frequently, take adequate breaks, and decompress between assignments.

  • Call upon your communication skills – Adapting to a new environment—and oftentimes environments that operate at a fast pace—is no easy feat and deeply admirable. But one of the golden tickets to ensuring that you make a snag-free transition each and every time is through communicating . Ask questions whenever one arises for you, especially in facilities where management may overlook (or be too pressed for time) to share essential pieces of information with you.
  • Build bonds – You may only be on assignment in a certain facility for six weeks—but that’s still six weeks in which you can develop friendships with others on the staff you’re joining. Having a friend and confidante at your temporary place of employment may bring substantially more satisfaction to your job while partnering up with a local nurse (or another healthcare employee) may introduce you to new parts of the city or town you’re staying in on your assignment.
  • Work with a travel nursing agency – A solid and reputable travel nursing agency can be an indispensable resource. Whether they arrange for your housing, negotiate your contract, optimize your compensation, or provide you with mental health resources to help you avoid that professional burnout we discussed, they may prove to be a superb ally and advocate on your working adventures.

Elevate Your Nursing Career with MAS Medical Staffing

The pandemic radically changed life for countless people across the world—and life for innumerable nurses. Nurses are now in a prime position to ask for what they want and, importantly, deserve . From better, more realistic pay to enhanced protection, they’re speaking up for themselves and increasingly turning to travel nursing jobs to obtain the lifestyle and income they’ve worked so hard to achieve. 

MAS Medical Staffing is the partner to bring along on your foray into travel nursing. As one of the top travel nursing agencies in the country, we work hard on behalf of nurses to place them in desirable positions, all the while helping them make enormous strides in their careers. With terrific benefits and per diem pay, we can help you reach your professional and personal goals while giving you the chance to explore new locales and accrue fresh experiences.

Reach out to us today to start the conversation—and prepare for a rewarding and meaningful time, one in which the future of travel nursing is yours.  

Rasmussen University. COVID-19 and nursing: 6 ways the pandemic has made an impact.


Health Affairs. COVID-19’s impact on nursing shortages, the rise of travel nurses, and price gouging.


American Association of Critical Care Nurses. Hear us out campaign reports nurses’ COVID-19 reality.

Hear Us Out Campaign Reports Nurses’ COVID-19 Reality – AACN

Advisory Board. Why travel nursing will likely outlast the pandemic.


Trusted Health. Transition back from crisis: the future for travel nurses after COVID-19.


National Nurses United. Nurses call on FTC to investigate hospital contracts that place onerous burden on RN graduates.


U.S. Bureaus of Labor Statistics. Registered nurses.


American Nurses Foundation. American Nurses Foundation Releases Comprehensive Survey About Nurses. https://www.nursingworld.org/news/news-releases/2021/american-nurses-foundation-releases-comprehensive-survey-about-nurses/  

Reviewer Bio

Heidi Lough, Principal Recruiter:  Heidi has worked as a recruiter at MAS since September of 2020, right in the middle of the COVID pandemic. She came in and saw our company growing exponentially due to the pandemic which resulted in a severe need for healthcare providers. She is a top performer and loves the hustle of recruiting and helping professionals find their next adventure in their nursing specialty. Outside of work, she enjoys being in nature, being involved at church, and hanging out with her cat, dog, 6 chickens- oh, and husband.

Samantha Mednikoff

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How To Prepare for a Travel Nursing Interview

A travel nursing interview with hospital administration can be nerve-wracking for travel nurses especially because it may be their only opportunity to talk to the facility and ask questions before accepting a position. It’s important that travel nurses make a good first impression as there are generally other applicants for the position.

Nailing the interview component is key in securing a coveted position. This is not a time to be timid or shy about your accomplishments. Brag about yourself and tell them why you deserve to be their frontrunner.

Interviewing does require some preparation besides knowing how to answer their questions. Make sure that you are:

  • Familiar with the healthcare facility/system
  • Familiar with the unit including specifics about the patient population

Looking for a travel nursing assignment? Talk to a recruiter today.

The Travel Nurse Interview Process

Generally, travel nurses will go through several rounds of interviews including with an HR representative for the healthcare facility, the nurse manager of the specific unit, and possibly the nursing director and another staff member. These interviews are utilized to find individuals that will fit the needs of the unit as well as be flexible, dynamic, and well versed in bedside care.

Common Travel Nursing Interview Questions

Most interview questions are fairly similar for travel nurses because the managers want to know how you will respond in a medical emergency, how you will handle a difficult patient, how you will mesh with your co-workers, and more importantly what makes you stand out amongst the others.

Travel nursing interviews usually occur while still on another assignment so they frequently occur over the phone which can be helpful. It allows a potential travel nurse to have a list of questions and possible answers ready in case they get nervous.

So what kind of questions could a manager ask? Here is a list of common questions seen during travel nurse interviews:

  • Why are you the best candidate for this position?
  • Tell me about a specific time you had an encounter with a hard to handle patient/family member/staff member.
  • What are your specific strengths as a nurse?
  • What are your specific weaknesses as a nurse?
  • How do you respond to high-stress situations?
  • What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
  • Why do you want this specific position?
  • What type of hospitals have you worked in before? Teaching? Trauma? Community?
  • What kind of patient ratios are you used to?
  • What unit(s) have you worked in?
  • How do you stay current with the nursing profession?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges facing nursing today?
  • What specific skills do you have that set you apart from other nurses?
  • Why did you leave your current position? (if a first-time travel nurse)
  • What are your future career goals?
  • What changes have you contributed to established practices to improve patient care?
  • Can you describe frustrations you have personally dealt with as an RN and how you resolved them?
  • What was a typical day in your previous job like?
  • Tell me an example of a time you disagreed with the plan of care for the patient.
  • Do you consider yourself a good team player? Why?
  • How do you prefer to learn? By doing, explanation, demonstration?

The interview is also a time to ask the hospital representative, nurse manager, or staff member questions about the position, unit, and patient population. Most managers are expecting questions so even if you think you know the answer from research or other hospital employees — it is always best to ask the manager directly.

Ready to start travel nursing? Start here.

Questions To Ask When Interviewing As A Travel Nurse

You might only have one chance to ask these questions so it’s important that you feel comfortable with all of the information so that if you are offered the position you have all of the answers.

Commonly asked questions by potential travel nurses include:

  • What is the typical patient to nurse ratio on the unit?
  • What are the major short/long term objectives for this facility?
  • Will I be floated to other units in the hospital? If so, what units?
  • How does the cancellation of travel nurses work in your unit?
  • What are the current challenges of nurses in the unit?
  • What is the typical patient population? Census? Bed number?
  • What is the orientation process like for travel nurses? How many days of orientation will I receive?
  • What other medical professionals do nurses collaborate with on a day-to-day basis?
  • Is overtime available? Is it ever mandated?
  • What are the strengths of your unit?
  • What is the policy for escalating a problem or concern?
  • How many travelers do you staff on the unit?
  • Why do you currently need travel nurses?
  • s there a uniform requirement?
  • Am I allowed to pick my own schedule or is it assigned to me? How does the switch process work?
  • Does this assignment carry the possibility for an extension?
  • What charting system is used? Will I be expected to act as a translator for other nurses? (Ask if bilingual)
  • What is the policy for breaks/lunch?

Interviews are an essential component of the hiring process for travel nurses. Becoming comfortable talking about yourself, your accomplishments, and your abilities is key in securing your next contract.

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The Best Bath Toys

A bunch of our picks for best bath toy displayed together in front of a blue background.

It shouldn’t be difficult to find good bath toys. And yet the world is full of slimy, revolting, sludge-filled options that may as well have been custom-made for the purpose of harboring mold and bacteria.

As a parent, I had seen plenty of bath toys break bad over the years—foam blocks felled by suspicious speckles, a once-frisky Paw Patrol floatie subdued by splotches. But my call to arms was a plastic ballerina elephant squirter: It shot a cascade of slimy, greenish-black flakes into my toddler’s bathwater and sent me on this epic, sudsy quest for better alternatives.

I researched hundreds of bath toys, and I spent over a year testing more than 50 of them with my family. (It turns out you’re never too old to appreciate some mid-shower entertainment.) The 15 toys we recommend are thoughtfully designed, fun to play with, and low-maintenance. They’re intended for a range of ages. But, as always, it’s important to consider your child’s individual developmental stage when you’re gauging whether a toy is appropriate.

Though no bath toy is totally immune to fungal growth— this comes with the territory —our picks are uncommonly resistant. In other words, unlike much of the junk out there—I’m lookin’ at you, Elephant in a Tutu—they’re actually well suited to life in the watery trenches.

The research

Who this is for, floating bath toys, stacking bath toys, suction bath toys, creative bath toys, how we picked and tested, how to clean bath toys.

If you’re familiar with bath toys, then this won’t come as a surprise: They tend to get grody fast. And it’s no wonder—many have design features that make them hard to clean, or they have holes that let water in but not completely out. Plus, their natural habitat is a tub or a shower, where the constant moisture, residue from soap products, and traces of bodily fluids provide the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria.

The good news is that most kids probably won’t get seriously ill from yucky bath toys—though the risk is higher for those who are immunocompromised or have a mold allergy. “It’s mostly just the ick factor,” Jennifer Foersterling , a pediatrician at Premier Pediatrics in St. Louis, Missouri, confirmed.

With that said, some water-trapping bath toys—such as plastic squirters—could harbor potentially nasty creepy-crawlies. Bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa , Enterococcus faecalis , and Staphylococcus aureus , as well as the fungus Exophiala , could all cause infections if they got into open wounds or eyes, Foersterling said. So it’s best to steer clear of these types of toys entirely.

If you’d prefer for your child to bathe surrounded by items that don’t make your stomach curdle, the toys in this guide can help. They’ll also last a lot longer than their mold-attracting counterparts. “I see no reason to throw away [bath] toys that can be easily cleaned and do not hold water,” Foersterling said. “We had bath toys that lasted through all [our] kids—at least eight years!”

The Green Toys Tugboat, one of our picks for best floating bath toy, in front of a blue background.

Green Toys Tugboat

Versatile vessel.

Compact yet sturdy, this high-quality plastic tugboat opens for cleaning—and its front spout doubles as a hair rinser.

Buying Options

Green Toys makes some of our favorite toys for land, and this company’s tub game is just as strong. The Green Toys Tugboat stands out for its perfect dimensions—at about 9 by 5 inches, it fits comfortably in smaller hands, while still feeling substantial. This tub toy also has a handy pour spout, so it can double as a hair rinser. It’s made of thick, BPA-free plastic with a high-quality feel; it’s also dishwasher-safe and comes apart, so the inside can be cleaned. If you’re interested in building a full-on armada, my daughter is a fan of the (much larger) Green Toys Ferry Boat and the Green Toys Disney Baby Mickey Mouse & Friends Linking Boats , a trio of smaller vessels with removable Disney character captains.

The Skip Hop Zoo Light-Up Baby Bath Toy Unicorn, one of our picks for best floating bath toy, in front of a blue background.

Skip Hop Zoo Light-Up Baby Bath Toy Unicorn

Bright idea.

Best for younger tots, this sweet-looking floatie—equipped with sensors that make it light up when it touches the water—brings a bit of magic to bath time.

I had some initial reservations about the Skip Hop Zoo Light-Up Baby Bath Toy Unicorn —should I really put anything that lights up into my kid’s tub? But I was quickly won over by this guileless, approximately 4-inch plastic unicorn and its sweetly rounded features (there’s also a dinosaur version ). As promised, when this bath toy gets wet, it lights up—or, rather, it glows gently, in different colors—thanks to water-activated sensors on its base. (This toy is fully sealed, to keep out water.) The magic of an illuminated floatie never got old for my daughter, but given the simplicity of this toy, it’s probably best for younger kiddos.

Note: After about a year, our unicorn went permanently dark, but since it costs less than most deli sandwiches, I’d still consider that a pretty good run.

The Wild Republic Rubber Zebra Duck, one of our picks for best floating bath toy, in front of a blue background.

Wild Republic Rubber Zebra Duck

Next-gen rubber duckie.

This cheeky spin on the traditional bath-time companion comes in many silly designs. It’s hole-free to keep water out, yet it still floats like a champ.

No bath-toy review worth its Epsom salt would be complete without this classic entry. The Wild Republic Rubber Zebra Duck fits the, er, bill because it’s fully sealed (essential for keeping out water), yet it’s capable of floating without tipping (floating toys without holes often lack buoyancy and balance). This bath toy is made of a hard, smooth plastic, and it’s stayed like new for more than a year. Though natural rubber sounds good in theory, the floating toys we tested made from that material (including Kala the Whale and the Oli & Carol Origami Boat ) turned slimy fast and then developed mold. Admittedly, this unconventional zebra-duck design might make waves with rubber-duckie traditionalists—as would Wild Republic’s equally disruptive peacock duck , cobra duck , T-rex duck , and zombie-duck .

A set of Boon Fleet Stacking Boats, one of our picks for best stacking bath toys, in front of a blue background.

Boon Fleet Stacking Boats, Set of 5

Fleet of fancy.

These sleek vessels float, pour, and stack—and they look good doing it.

The Boon Fleet Stacking Boats are simple yet well executed. The fleet consists of five streamlined boats (6 by 2¾ inches each) in refreshingly non-kiddie colors, like navy and eggplant—so adults might not mind having them docked indefinitely in their bathrooms. On the tops of the boats, small holes (in varying patterns) create a pleasing rain-shower effect with the bathwater, and the rims work well for more-serious scooping. (Multiple Amazon reviewers noted that they use these boats as rinse cups .) The boats can be nestled on top of each other, though they must be placed in the correct order to achieve a flush stack—a fact that my toddler found either frustrating or rewarding, depending on the outcome.

A set of Skip Hop Multi Zoo Stack & Pour Buckets, one of our picks for best stacking bath toys, in front of a blue background.

Skip Hop Multi Zoo Stack & Pour Buckets, Set of 5

Buckets of fun.

In a sea of subpar stacking cups, these adorable, animal-themed mini plastic nesting buckets stand out for their clever, mold-defying design.

There are tons of stacking cups out there. How different could they possibly be? Well, the starfish-shaped Green Toys Stacking Cups seemed promising, but thanks to deep internal crevices, they also proved to be mold magnets. Ditto for the Mushie Stacking Cups —though they were chic and brimming with Danish hygge, they had an infuriating hollow lip that kept gathering gunk. The Skip Hop Multi Zoo Stack & Pour Buckets were just right, though. These five handled buckets are blissfully free of ridiculous crannies, and they’re made from smooth, hard plastic that wipes clean. Each bright, 3-inch-tall vessel has a cheerful animal face and a different perforated pattern on its base that drains water—entertaining during bath time and useful afterward in helping the buckets to dry.

A set of Bilibo Mini Primary Colors, one of our picks for best stacking bath toys, in front of a blue background.

Bilibo Mini Primary Colors Combo Pack by Moluk, Set of 6

What’s the scoop.

These quirky plastic scoopers are surprisingly versatile, and they inspire all kinds of creative play, in the bath and at the beach.

I adore these funky little scoopers, which look like Darth Vader helmets that have been sunnily upcycled for the Light Side. The Bilibo Mini Primary Colors Combo Pack by Moluk set has become one of my go-to birthday and holiday gifts—it appeals to kids of various ages and interests, and it’s unusual, in a good way. (These scoopers are also available in a pastel set , as well as in a larger, 16-inch size , which we recommend in our guide to gifts for 2-year-olds.) The Mini Bilibos are made from a tough, non-bending plastic; each one measures about 5 inches in diameter. (All six scoopers can be stacked together, and in summer, you can keep them permanently stashed in a beach bag.) The Mini Bilibos defy categorization—their exact purpose is unclear—and, as a result, they remain fresh and continue to invite imaginative play. My daughter pretends hers are tiny hot tubs for other toys to enjoy, and sometimes she uses them as cookware—she once used them to “bake” a blueberry chocolate cake in the shower.

A set of Boon Pipes & Tubes & Cogs, one of our picks for best suction bath toys.

Boon Pipes + Tubes + Cogs Bundle

Changing gears.

With this 13-piece suction set, any kid can be an engineer. The spinning pieces work individually or as components of a larger, interconnected system.

Granted, the Boon Pipes + Tubes + Cogs Bundle is pricey for a bath toy—but once you take inventory, there’s a lot to discover. This set contains 13 pieces and is essentially a combination of three other sets. (If you’d prefer a smaller assortment or want to add even more pieces, they’re sold separately as Boon Pipes , Boon Cogs , and Boon Tubes .) All of the components have suction cups, so your kid can stick them to slick surfaces. Some of the pieces have internal spinners, and many can be connected to one another to create an elaborate system. Part of the challenge is figuring out how they work together (or don’t). Though the manufacturer recommends this toy for children 12 months and up, I think kids will get more out of it as they mature. Also, although we didn’t have any issues with this set, some online reviews have complained of certain parts not spinning as they should or of insufficient suction (which could be related to the tub or tile surface).

A Haba Bathtub Ball Track Set, one of picks for best suction bath toys, in front of a blue background.

Haba Bathtub Ball Track Set

This deceptively simple toy—you design your own ball track with pieces suctioned to the wall—is deeply satisfying.

If I could choose only one bath toy, it would be the Haba Bathtub Ball Track Set . The concept is simple: Create a “course” by suctioning three track pieces and a paddle wheel to a vertical surface; then send a ball down the run. The included ladle can be used to launch the ball or for other bath-time business. This set had my fourth-grader suddenly taking decadently long showers as he experimented with new configurations (we found it works best when you’re standing). The track set also left me wondering how I’d survived so many decades of bathing without it.

I do have a few small gripes. The set comes with only one ball, which is easy to misplace, and it’s more fun to deploy multiple balls down the track in quick succession. (Suggested remedy: Haba also makes the Bathing Bliss Waterslide , which comes with four balls. It’s a tad snoozy on its own, but when it’s combined with the Ball Track Set, you have a dream team.) Also, after about a year, the suction cups on (just) one of my track sections began developing dark mold spots. And there have been complaints— online and from a fellow Wirecutter editor—that the suction could be stronger.

A set of Fat Brain Toys Waddle Bobbers, one of our picks for best suction bath toys, in front of a blue background.

Fat Brain Toys Waddle Bobbers Bath Toy

Slip and slide.

These multitasking penguins float, stack, hold water, and then slide onto their iceberg landing pad.

May be out of stock

“Junk,” I thought to myself when I first laid eyes on the Fat Brain Toys Waddle Bobbers Bath Toy . With its flimsy-looking suction slide, “iceberg” landing pad, and five hollow-headed penguin sliders—reminiscent of shot glasses you might get at a theme restaurant if you ordered peppermint schnapps—this set felt destined for a landfill. But dang-it if it hasn’t granted us hours of entertainment (and stayed mold-free—nothing sticks to that slick plastic). Like our Haba Bathtub Ball Track Set pick, this is a toy that makes things go zooming downhill. But the Waddle Bobbers are better for younger kids because there’s basically no room for human error: The slide always delivers. Plus, the cartoony penguins are beguiling; my daughter likes tucking them into their iceberg divots, stacking them high, and filling their small noggins with soapy water.

The Moluk Boi Bath Toy, one of our picks for best suction bath toy, in front of a blue background.

Boi Bath Toy by Moluk

Weebly wobbly thingamajig.

This oddly endearing toy—which swerves unsteadily, floats (kinda), and sticks to walls with its silicone “beak”—can be whatever you need it to be.

Just look at this ridiculous thing: The Boi Bath Toy by Moluk is a 4¾-inch-tall piece of plastic that vaguely resembles a Canada goose, by way of Plato’s cave. Once it’s in your orbit, though, it’s hard not to be charmed. The Boi toy seems perpetually optimistic and up for anything. It’s not afraid to be the butt of the joke: When you stick its silicone “beak” to the shower door, it’ll hang there indefinitely. In water, it bobs with uncertainty, unable to fully hoist its tummy to the surface. On land, it’s a modern-day Weeble that wobbles but doesn’t fall down, spinning and swerving like a drunken prima ballerina. It’s fully sealed, so there’s nowhere for water to sneak in or mold to camp out. What does it do ? I’m still not entirely sure, but my daughter spent a year putting this toy to work as both her shampoo bottle and her cellphone.

A Mudpuppy Ocean Life Stickable Foam Bath Shapes set, one of our picks for best suction bath toys.

Mudpuppy Ocean Life Stickable Foam Bath Shapes

It’s hard to find a good bath toy made out of foam, but these ocean-themed shapes beat the odds—and they even come with a mesh storage net.

Mudpuppy Ocean Life Stickable Foam Bath Shapes are the only foam toys that made the cut for this guide. Some dark sorcery managed to keep them pristine while all of their foam brethren—including the Blockaroo Magnetic Foam Blocks , Nuby Bath Tub Alphabet Set , and Lakeshore Learning Design & Build Water Blocks —became mold-speckled. For foam shapes, they’re a bit on the thin side; perhaps that’s part of the key to their success (but for kids who bite or play rough, they may be too flimsy). They’re also adorable, printed with vibrant images of uncommon sea creatures (a blowfish, an oyster). And if marine life isn’t your jam, other themes include bugs , unicorns , and letters . Bonus: They come with a mesh storage bag that suctions to the tub; this keeps them from getting mixed together with other toys and helps them dry out between uses.

A Moluk Oogi Family set, one of our picks for best suction bath toys, in front of a blue background.

Oogi Family by Moluk

We are family.

These four stretchy silicone characters stick together—and to the wall of your shower or tub.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. In the case of the Oogi Family by Moluk , it’s a silicone brood with featureless heads, comically long arms, and squat, arched legs. Their suction-cup appendages cling mightily to flat, slick surfaces and to one another—when you try to pull them apart, the Oogis stretch until they can stretch no more, and then they emit an entertaining “pop!” as they release. It’s difficult to look at them without smiling or feeling amused. (They’d make good fidget toys for a grown-up’s desk—or so I’ve heard.) The four Oogis we’ve been testing are all still looking good, but should you ever lose one to mold—or get a hankering to add to your brood—they’re also sold individually in different sizes and colors , including baby pink, beige, and glow-in-the-dark.

A Haba Bubble Bath Whisk, one of our picks for best creative bath toys, in front of a blue background.

Haba Bubble Bath Whisk

Whisk-y business.

This hand-cranked whisk gets water churning—which is really fun for kids but can also get a little messy.

The Haba Bubble Bath Whisk stirs up good, clean mischief. The roughly 10-inch-tall yellow-and-orange plastic gadget (there’s also an aqua-and-green version) works like a rotary egg beater. When the crank-style handle gets turned, the paddle within the whisk spins surprisingly fast, dishing out an instant lesson in cause and effect—and a whirlpool of sloshing waves. (Just to manage expectations: Your kid should know that this won’t create new bubbles as much as it will relocate existing ones.) If the whisk is used too exuberantly or too close to the edge of the tub, the situation can get out of hand pretty fast—our daughter’s babysitter has emerged from bath time looking like she just visited the splash zone at SeaWorld. But the pure glee this whisk elicits is (usually) worth it. And you can always give it a time out in the play kitchen.

The Green Toys Tide Pool Bath Set, one of our picks for best creative bath toys, in front of a blue background.

Green Toys Tide Pool Bath Set

Swell shells.

With six individual ocean-themed pieces made from durable, dishwasher-safe plastic—plus a sturdy storage basket—this well-priced set is a self-contained mini collection of bath toys.

The Green Toys Tide Pool Bath Set is a treasure trove of aquatic delights. If you’re just starting a collection of bath toys and looking to scale fast—or if you need a stash to bring on vacation or keep at a relative’s house—this assortment is not overly expensive, and it offers a nice variety. And it comes with its own sturdy, handled storage basket. The set includes three shells and a starfish, but the true premium items at this seafood buffet are the squid and jellyfish: Their legs spin, and their hollow heads can be dunked and drained upside down or right side up. Like other Green Toys products, these are made from a thick, pleasing-to-the-touch plastic that’s BPA-free and dishwasher-safe.

The Pluï Rain Cloud by Moluk, one of our picks for best creative bath toys.

Pluï Rain Cloud by Moluk

It takes just the right mix of patience and dexterity for little ones to make it rain with this plastic cloud.

Why not encourage delusions of grandeur in a small child? The Pluï Rain Cloud by Moluk is a 3-by-4-inch hollow plastic toy that lets my daughter control the weather in our bathtub. With great power comes great responsibility: To create this micro-climate, she must fully submerge the rain cloud in water and wait patiently for it to fill up; then she has to manage the flow of the downpour using a small plug hole at the top. (Pulling all of this off is no small feat, so it’s a win when it happens.) The cloud comes apart in two pieces, for cleaning and drying.

A bunch of bath toys that are still wet from being played with, inside a big plastic tub.

As Wirecutter guides go, this one is a bit of an odd (rubber) duck. Before deciding on the criteria for the best bath toys, I had to focus on the absence of something: mold and bacteria.

Why do certain bath toys turn vile in a matter of weeks, while others stay spotless for years? After a decade of dealing with my own kids’ (often horrifying) bath toys, I had some theories to chase. I sought out expert advice and scientific studies , combed customer reviews, watched nauseating videos , and fell down Reddit rabbit holes .

The consensus: Plastic squirt toys are public enemy number one because they’re a breeding ground for cooties. Those were obviously out, along with any other toys that trap water.

Beyond that, I considered the following factors:

Materials: Certain materials are more resistant to fungus than others; in particular, I looked for toys made from hard plastic and silicone, since they tend to fare better than softer, more porous ones.

Design: A toy’s shape, features, and functionality all impact how easy it will be to keep clean and how hospitable it will be to microorganisms. I tried to zero in on toys with qualities that would be helpful (for example, if you could open them and clean their interiors) and to steer clear of toys with likely trouble spots (nooks and crannies).

The fun factor: Hygiene is only half the battle—a bath toy also has to be delightful, or else what’s the point?

In the fall of 2022, 53 bath toys arrived at my house—to the excitement of my 2-year-old daughter and 9-year-old-son, and to the dismay of my minimalist husband. I labeled the assortment and divided everything up among three bathrooms, where we regularly take baths and showers. Then I periodically rotated the toys, to account for the locations’ differences in ventilation, humidity, and drainage. I made sure my daughter interacted with every toy at least once, but I allowed her to focus on favorites.

As for cleaning and maintenance , I opted to do the bare minimum. If I noticed something sketchy brewing on a toy, I’d give it a quick wipe with a cloth or a scrub with my grout brush . The toys stayed in the tub or shower—definitely not recommended—where they were perpetually subjected to moisture. I made no effort to dry them between uses, though they were kept in storage containers with good drainage. (My favorites were the Skip Hop Moby Stowaway Bucket and the Ubbi Freestanding Bath Toy Organizer .) I figured this approach would help surface the true superstars, and it’s also exactly what I’ve always done.

Nature took its course, and fungus claimed one toy after another—sometimes piecemeal, other times en masse. (About six months into testing, we had our very own Red Wedding .) And yet, some of the toys defied the odds, emerging from this steamy gauntlet virtually unscathed—after more than a year—to become our picks.

I didn’t use any special measures to clean the bath toys I tested for this guide. But it’s a good idea to keep your toys spick-and-span. And doing so will likely prolong their lifespan.

Manufacturers offer care recommendations for individual toys. But, in general, hard plastic toys (like our Green Toys picks) and silicone toys (such as ones from Moluk) are dishwasher-safe in the top rack.

If a toy develops dark splotches or specks, the following cleaning methods may salvage it. Alas, some toys are past the point of no return, and it’s best to dispose of them.

Vinegar-soak method

  • Fully submerge toy(s) in cleaning vinegar; soak for at least 30 minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly, and allow to dry fully before returning to the bath.

Bleach method

  • Place toy(s) in a dilution of one part bleach to 16 parts water for one to five minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly to avoid accidental ingestion of bleach, and allow the toys to dry fully before returning them to the bath. Also note, bleach may fade the colors or patterns on toys.

This article was edited by Amy Miller Kravetz and Kalee Thompson.

Meet your guide

preparing for travel nursing

Ingela Ratledge Amundson

Ingela Ratledge Amundson is Wirecutter’s supervising editor for style coverage. She has previously contributed to publications including The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Time, Parents and Cosmopolitan.

Further reading

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The Best Baby Bathtubs and Bath Seats

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We tested 10 baby bathtubs and bath seats and found the Fisher-Price Sling ’n Seat Tub  is the best basin and the Angelcare Baby Bath Support is the best seat.

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The 28 Best Gifts for 1-Year-Olds

by Caitlin Giddings and Wirecutter Staff

Some of the best gifts for 1-year-olds are those that engage kids’ rapidly developing motor skills, sensory exploration, and boundless curiosity.

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5 AI careers of the future—and the Amazon skills-training programs to help you prepare

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A photo of a person sitting at a desk working at a computer. Behind them are graphics that reflect predicted top 5 AI jobs of the future: a nurse, farmer, restoration specialist, cosmic reality engineer, and virtual tourism producer.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming how we work. Machine learning (ML) and generative AI tools are improving operational efficiency and worker productivity in fields like finance, IT, sales, and marketing, among others.

An infographic that features an illustration of a school and states, "60% of educators believe foundational AI skills should be taught from Grade 6 through university.

To better understand how AI skills are taught in classrooms and used to enhance learning, Amazon collaborated with Access Partnership to survey more than 400 sixth grade through university educators in four U.S. regions (Tennessee, Ohio, California, and Seattle). The study found that over 60% of teachers believe that having AI skills will be necessary for their students to obtain high-paying careers of the future.

An info graphic that features an illustration of a laptop device and a cloud. Copy on the image states, "1.5 AI courses are expected to increase a modest 1.5x across surveyed institutions in the next five years.

However, 69% of educators noted they lack the resources to teach the subject. Educators reported they need more teaching materials, including free teaching software, and more “train the trainer” programs to help students get ready for AI-enabled professions. Knowing there are potential benefits of using AI to enhance learning, AI skills courses are expected to become more available by roughly 1.5 times across surveyed U.S. schools in the next five years. Additionally, over 40% of educators expressed interest in receiving training on how to use AI-enabled curriculum research and development tools.

How Amazon can help students and educators prepare for AI-enabled careers

A photo taken behind a person sitting at a desk working on a laptop device, which shows AWS Skill Builder on the screen.

According to additional research , three quarters of the employers who said hiring AI-skilled talent was a priority weren’t able to find the AI talent they need. Equipping students and working adults with foundational AI skills will help prepare them for a tech-enabled workforce and a variety of career possibilities most would otherwise not consider. Amazon helps educators and students explore career pathways and skillsets in a number of ways:

  • Funds high-quality STEM Curriculum & Teacher Training to help schools implement K-12 computer science initiatives and help educators build student awareness of career pathways and job readiness.
  • Awards Amazon Web Services (AWS) Generative AI Scholarships to more than 50,000 high school and university students globally to help them access the new Udacity course, Introducing Generative AI with AWS for free.
  • Offers the Careers of the Future Index , virtual class chats, career tours, and project-based learning modules through Amazon Future Engineer , our global philanthropic education program that helps students explore STEM through real-world experiences.

“AI is the world’s fastest growing technology, yet in our sample of U.S. regions, only 24% of surveyed education institutions incorporate some form of AI skills training as part of their curriculum,” said Victor Reinoso, global director of education philanthropy at Amazon. “Now is the time to inspire students through career exploration, providing both a window and mirror into to tech so they can not only learn about the variety of roles across our industry and others, but see themselves in careers of the future and develop the skills to pursue them.”

Top five AI-enabled career of the future predictions

For students and professionals trying to envision how AI skillsets might be leveraged in the next 15 years, Amazon partnered with Tracey Follows, CEO of Futuremade, to predict AI-enabled careers that could be on the horizon.

Some of roles have titles that today’s HR teams have yet to imagine—like “cosmic reality engineer”—and span from agriculture to health care to entertainment fields, requiring both industry knowledge and AI skills. Here are the top five AI-enabled careers:

Precision farming analyst: Adding AI from farm to table

AI jobs of the future

Agriculture has become an increasingly technical science, and these AI-trained analysts will further revolutionize the farming industry as they maximize yields, while being as efficient as possible with resources required for food production. AI models will help analysts predict and mitigate the impact of climate change as they assist with crop selection and the allocation of resources like water and fertilizers. AI will also integrate with robots that can plant and harvest, while also monitoring crops in real time.

Virtual tourism producer: Shaping the future of travel

AI jobs of the future

Imagine being able to plan a summer vacation with a virtual reality preview. Virtual tourism producers will create immersive virtual reality (VR) experiences using AI to showcase destinations and activities. They’ll curate and update VR content to highlight the latest news and cultural developments in different regions, while partnering with tourism boards to market travel experiences.

Artisanal restoration specialist: Making the old new again

AI jobs of the future

Craftspeople in the specialized field of artisanal restoration will leverage advanced AI systems to repair and restore luxury goods—from couture fashion to antique furniture. Specialists will use AI to identify and source original materials and assess the most effective techniques for each restoration to maintain the item’s original aesthetic, historical significance, and value.

Cosmic reality engineer: Bringing invisible galaxies into view

AI jobs of the future

These experts in the field of interstellar studies will harness human imagination and advanced AI skills to visualize the distant, and sometimes invisible, parts of the cosmos—from stars and planets to entire galaxies. With a deep understanding of astrophysics, cosmology, and astronomy, these engineers will contextualize AI-generated data and translate the abstract into visually stunning simulations that educate others about space.

AI nurse: At the intersection of empathy and analytics

AI jobs of the future

AI will play a big part in helping nurses and other medical professionals diagnose illnesses, monitor vital signs, and track medications and wellness plans for patients. Nursing has always demanded exceptional interpersonal skills and strong medical knowledge. But nurses of the future will also have familiarity with AI tools and data analytics to interpret AI-driven insights and translate complex analyses about diagnoses and treatment plans into language that patients can understand.

A photo of an underwater camera recording a school of fish.

“Now is the time to explore how next-gen technologies will create new roles and enhance existing job opportunities in the workforce of tomorrow and we will need people at every stage of the process,” said Follows. “These career predictions can help plant the seeds for innovation across every industry, including new career clusters and pathways that don’t exist today.”

Learn about Amazon’s AI Ready Commitment . For additional AI-enabled career predictions and more findings from the Accelerating AI Skills Through Education surveys, click below.

  • AI-enabled Career Predictions
  • AI Skills and Education Survey | U.S. Key Insights
  • AI Skills and Education Survey | Tennessee
  • AI Skills and Education Survey | Ohio
  • AI Skills and Education Survey | California
  • AI Skills and Education Survey | Seattle

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