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Navigating the Nursing Holiday Rotation Schedule

Amanda Lundberg, RN, BSN
November 21, 2023
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As the festive lights begin to twinkle and holiday carols fill the air, travel nurses across the country are gearing up for what can often be the busiest time of the year in healthcare. 

For those new to travel nursing or considering taking the plunge, questions about holiday rotations and holiday pay are at the forefront. Here’s what you need to know about the nursing holiday rotation schedule and how it can impact your yuletide plans.

What is a Nursing Holiday Rotation Schedule?

In essence, a nursing holiday rotation schedule is an agreement where nurses commit to working certain major holidays well in advance. It’s a systematic approach to ensure that healthcare facilities remain adequately staffed during critical times, while allowing nurses to plan their holidays. Some may work Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving Day, and Independence Day one year, then rotate to other holidays the next.

But how does this play out for travel nurses, who move between facilities and may not be bound by a single institution’s calendar?

Travel Nurses and Holiday Rotations: A Flexible Approach

Travel nurses often enjoy a degree of flexibility that is unparalleled in the profession. Unlike their counterparts in permanent positions, travel nurses can choose contracts that align with their holiday plans. Want to spend Christmas at home this year? You can select a contract that ends before the big day. However, if your contract does fall over the holidays, be aware that facility requirements can vary.

Some key differences between regular staff nurses and travel nurses in holiday rotation schedules include:

  • Assignment Length: Travel nurse contracts may last only 13 weeks, meaning they could be working at a new location when the next holiday rolls around.
  • Facility Policies: Each hospital or health system may have different expectations for working holidays.
  • Contract Flexibility: Travel nurses can often negotiate holiday time off before signing their contract.

Make Holiday Rotations Work For You

Beyond the festive decorations and spirited atmosphere, you'll want to navigate your holiday rotation schedule smartly. Whether you're angling for extra holiday pay or aiming to spend cherished times with loved ones, a strategic approach can help you manage the seasonal demands of your role. Here’s how you can cleverly handle the holidays as a travel nurse:

  • Maximize Holiday Pay: If your travel nurse position offers holiday pay, consider working on the actual holiday. Not only could this mean earning a higher wage for the day, but it can also reduce your travel costs significantly.
  • Fly Smart: After working the holiday, you can often find less expensive flights on off-peak dates. This strategy allows you to enjoy post-holiday family time while also saving on airfare.
  • Prioritize Your Holidays: Decide which holidays mean the most to you and plan your schedule accordingly. If having Thanksgiving with family is a must, offer to work Christmas or New Year's instead. This way, you can enjoy your cherished traditions without compromise.
  • Flexible Celebrations: Embrace flexibility by celebrating holidays on alternative days. If you work on Christmas Day, perhaps you can have a 'Christmas celebration' on a different date. This allows for family traditions to continue, albeit on a different schedule.
  • Connect with Colleagues: Holidays in the hospital can often come with a special camaraderie. Consider gathering with colleagues for a potluck if you're away from home. Celebrating with those who understand the demands of the job can be particularly comforting.

You can manage your holiday rotations in a way that aligns with both your professional goals and your personal life, ensuring you get the best of both worlds during the festive season.

Holiday Pay: The Icing on the Gingerbread

When it comes to holiday pay for travel nurses, the waters can get a bit murky. Not all facilities offer the same holiday pay rates, and some may not offer extra pay at all. Typically, holiday pay might be 1.5 times the regular hourly wage ("time and a half"), but this can differ based on the agency you’re contracted with.

How Trusted Health Makes It Simple

At Trusted Health, we aim to cut through the confusion. When you travel with us, holiday pay is straightforward:

  • Standard Rate: We offer a holiday rate of 1.5 times your regular pay, across all facility-specified holidays.
  • Defined Hours: Holiday pay applies from 7 PM the night before the holiday, through 7 AM the day after.

This simplifies planning and ensures that, no matter where you are, you’re compensated fairly for your holiday work. To learn more, check out our full holiday policy, or contact your Nurse Advocate. 

To Work or Not to Work on Holidays?

Deciding whether to work over the holidays is a personal choice, with various pros and cons:


  • Extra Pay: Working holidays can boost your income significantly.
  • New Experiences: Spend the holidays in a new location and maybe even start new traditions!
  • Less Hectic Work Environment: Some facilities might be quieter during holidays.


  • Away From Family: Working on holidays can mean missing out on family traditions.
  • Fluctuating Work Pace: The holiday season can bring unpredictability in patient volume.

Final Thoughts

As a travel nurse, your holiday season can be what you make it. With Trusted Health, you have the autonomy to decide if and when you work during these special times, without the worry of unexpected holiday pay policies. Why not browse our list of travel nurse or allied health professional jobs to find the contract that fits in with your holiday preferences?

Remember, while you care for others, it’s important to also plan for your own holiday cheer. So whether you choose to wrap presents or wrap up patient charts this holiday season, make sure it’s a decision that brings you joy.

From all of us at Trusted Health, we appreciate your dedication and wish you a joyful holiday season, however you choose to spend it! Explore new opportunities and plan your next move with us today!

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