Proud Pug Mom Finds Adventure on Land and Under the SeaCutting-Edge Clinical Techniques, Outdoors Across the U.S., Taking (Lots of) Time Off, Travel Nurse Pay, Traveling With Pets California
Aya travel nurse Brandi’s eleven-year-old pug has seen more of the world than most people. Together Brandi and King Louie have hit more than 15 U.S. states and Canada! They recently drove across the country to her current assignment in America’s Finest City – San Diego. As a USD alum, Brandi knows the sandy shores of SoCal well, raving “I have a special place in my heart for San Diego. No place quite compares.”
Brandi began travel nursing two years ago and it has proven to be the right move for her and King Louie, who is the perfect co-pilot for long-haul drives. Brandi says travel nursing provides a certain income level that will allow her to pay off the condo she owns back home in Michigan by the end of her current assignment. But the money isn’t everything. She is close with her recruiter, Danielle (who is also her former sorority sister) and explains, “As I’ve said to Danielle before, “I don’t work for free. But I don’t think travel nursing will work if you are in it solely for the money. You have to have that type of personality where you get out and meet people and see stuff and experience areas too.”
When it comes to experiencing different areas Brandi is an expert. As a staff nurse, she found she wasn’t always allowed to use the vacation days she had accrued so finding the time for far-flung adventures was difficult. But travel nursing is different. Not only does she get to indulge her passion for wandering stateside, but she has now visited more than 30 countries and counting. Her U.S. highlights include some surprises. For instance, she “had no expectations of Rhode Island” but enthuses that she “absolutely loved it.” In Little Rhody she could wander past Newport’s Gilded Age mansions, explore the islands and lighthouses dotting the coast, then shoot over to Vermont to see the fall colors or be in Boston in an hour. And her international trips have been just as exciting. As a self-described “warm water wussy” who finds that even the tropical waters of Hawaii can get too cold, she heads to the Caribbean every year for her birthday where she spends time scuba diving amongst shipwrecks, chasing sea turtles and settling into “island time” where things move a little more slowly.
These vacations are a necessity because slow is not Brandi’s usual pace. Her penchant for adrenaline provides a big hint regarding her chosen profession…since as in her own words, “there is a special personality that is attracted to ER.” But even the constant stimulation of the emergency environment isn’t always enough for Brandi who admits, “I get bored.” Fortunately, travel nursing mitigates her unrest by providing a frequent change of scenery. She is checking out a peds ER for the first time and the atmosphere at Rady Children’s has taken some getting used to. Everyone has been…entirely friendly. “I’m like, you people are sooooo cheerful. Is it the sunshine or is it just because you deal with little kids all the time? People are just nicer,” she laughs. Brandi often asks the same question of her Aya support team: “nobody ever seems unhappy…is it because they are in Southern California? They’re amazing and that actually takes away some of the stress of traveling.” Luckily when this tough-as-nails ER nurse feels the need for a reprieve from California’s sunshine and cheer, she plans to take King Louie and head through the Pacific Northwest all the way up to Alaska, where natural beauty abounds but sunlight isn’t quite so ubiquitous.