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Meet Rachel: The Type A travel nurse who finds freedom in letting go

Bringing Along Family/Friends/Partners, Dating on the Road, First Time Travelers, Outdoors Across the U.S., Traveling With Pets

“Just go with the flow” is a phrase we often hear when someone is trying to get us to do something we don’t entirely want to do — like sampling a strange new cuisine or attempting an extreme sport. Calmly letting things happen comes naturally to some people, but Aya travel nurse Rachel admits that she is not one of those people. She credits travel nursing with helping her discover the ability to let go and laughs as she recalls her previous Type A tendencies. Rachel says that she’s now learned to “let life happen and just enjoy it.”

Rachel, her boyfriend James and their two golden retrievers are really learning to kick back on their current assignment in Dayton, Ohio. When asked how she ended up in the Buckeye State Rachel says, “Really, Dayton chose me. If you told me a year ago that I’d be working in Ohio I would have thought you were crazy, but that’s what makes it such a great experience. The best thing about travel nursing is that we get to go places we might never choose on our own.” The whole household has found the smaller town vibe of Dayton to be a nice break from their usual chaotic pace. Rachel’s first two assignments were in Seattle and Boston, where she, James, Boozer and Molly packed each day full, constantly living in manic vacation mode. Pushing themselves to see it all has led to magical and mysterious encounters, from a sunset sail around the San Juan Islands to a Friday the 13th ghost tour in Salem. While local attractions definitely hold their appeal, Rachel and James’ true impetus behind travel is not what they can do or see, but who they can meet.

Rachel explains, “I love that I’ve gotten to connect with so many people. And whether I meet them for one day or they continue to stay in my life, it makes me grow as a person.” Rachel has discovered that all across the country, NICUs are both team-oriented and friendly. Spending 30+ hours a week with other nurses means that it’s been easy for her to make friends. As a photographer, James makes quick, but real connections with his subjects — and that’s actually how he and Rachel met! Rachel hired him for a photo shoot and says, “we started talking and haven’t stopped talking since.”

Not long after they got together Rachel and James decided their careers were ideally suited for travel. Not only have they made new friends, seen new sites and opened the door to new career opportunities, but they’ve also discovered a new gratitude for home. Rachel says, “Between assignments, we’ve been coming home to Denver and it ’s like…ahhhhhh. Travel has given me an appreciation for my own home more than anything.”

Rachel may have rediscovered her love of the Rockies, but she’s not ready to settle back into her beautiful mountains just yet. She and James have plenty more places to cross off of their nebulous bucket list. You can picture her shoulders shrugging as she confesses, “We don’t know where we are gonna be next.” And when asked how others can achieve this serenity while travel nursing, Rachel says, “My only advice would be to go into it without a plan.” In that way, you leave yourself open to all possible experiences. Planning not to plan isn’t always easy. “At first I HATED it,” Rachel admits. And her love of control wasn’t the only thing Rachel feels had the potential to hold her back. “I could have made 1,000 excuses not to travel and I tried — ‘I own a house and I have a great job already and I have dogs and I have a boyfriend…’ until I thought, if I want to make this happen I absolutely can.”