Very few professions are as exciting as that of a travel nurse. Working as a travel nurse provides you with a lot of opportunities to live the type of life most people only dream about. The chance to visit a lot of new places, work with new people, and have exciting experiences.
Of course, planning for your new posting is not always easy. What should you pack for a few weeks assignment, seeing as you will likely spend the duration of your assignment in a hostel or hotel? Packing enough to be comfortable will be ideal, but this is not always realistic. That’s why we have put together this ultimate guide to help travel nurses plan for their next travel assignment.
Know how long your assignment is
Before packing for your travel nursing assignment, you should first know how long the assignment is for. The length of your stay will determine what you should pack, and how many of each item you should go along with.
One of the strange advantages of working as a travel nurse is that you may not need a lot of personal clothes on your travel assignment. This is because you will likely wear a uniform during your shift.
Travel nurses typically work 12 hours shift, and the remaining 12 hours will be spent resting or enjoying your downtime. Even though travel nursing is an opportunity to travel, chances are you will have very little time to see the sights, which means very little time to wear your personal clothes. It is important to point out here that this is agency-specific. Some agencies allow you to work in your personal clothes as long as it is clean and has something to identify you with, but this is the exemption rather than the norm.
Remember essential documentation
Your travel nursing assignment will end before it begins if you forget to pack the essential documents you need to work in a new city. If you are travelling to a city in the same country, you may not need your passport, but you cannot travel to a new country without this important document.
Apart from your passport, other essential documents you should not travel without are your social security card or national insurance identification (for UK citizens), professional licenses, driver license, agency agreement and identification, agency contact information, and any other document you usually carry when travelling.
Don’t pack what you can buy
As you pack for your travel nursing assignment, you may discover that your packing list is getting quite large and that you will need more suitcases or travel bags. This can be a problem if you have to consider travel costs. You can decide to go with the flow and keep all the items on your list, or you can remove some or all of the non-essentials and consider buying them when you arrive at your destination.
Regardless of which city you find yourself in, you will surely find discount stores, thrift stores and secondhand goods stores where you can buy the things you need. You will also find a variety of drug stores where you can buy toiletries and other cleaning essentials. Removing these items from your travel list will give you space to put in more of the things that are actually useful, or save money on luggage.
Travel experts divide travellers into two groups: those that travel light, and those who insist on packing all that they own.
Travel nursing assignments typically vary between 4 to 26 weeks, with a standard assignment lasting for 13 weeks.
You may also want to find out if you have multiple travel assignments, and if they will be taking place back to back. If this is the case, you will not be going back home before going on your next travel assignment, then you have to consider this in your packing.
Know the location of your assignment
Different travel locations have different climates, different activities, and different cultures; these are factors that will significantly influence your packing. For instance, in some cultures, it is illegal for women to wear trousers, and you should take this into consideration when visiting such locations for work.
You will also have no need to carry your winter gear when travelling to Florida in the summer. Therefore, always consider the location, and factors unique to that location when packing for your travel nursing assignment.
Consider what your agency provides
If you have worked with the same agency for some time, you will have an idea of the type of provisions they make, and this will also aid your packing. For example, some travel nursing agencies provide housing in some cities, and this may include housewares, furnishings, and cookware. If you work for such an agency, you only need to pack your clothes, toiletries, electronic devices, and maybe a bit of food. Other agencies provide only housing and furnishings, while some make arrangements for a hotel or hostel.
Because of the difference in agency provisions, it is important to find out exactly what your accommodation options are, and what it will include.
Once you have enough information for the three points above, you will have a better idea of how to pack for your travel nurse assignment.
Make a list of the things you use regularly
Everyone has a different lifestyle and living habit, and these habits play a huge role in how we pack for trips. For example, some travel nurses exercise regularly and must travel with their workout kit, while some don’t.
Experts at Gifted Healthcare Travel Nursing suggest that you make a list of the items you use regularly when planning for your next travel nurse assignment as we are pretty much creatures of habit, and these items would make up a major part of what you will need to be comfortable at your travel destination.
While it can be tempting to stock your bags with everything in your house, travelling with large luggage will only make your journey stressful and time-consuming.
The key is to prioritize the things that are important, that you cannot live without for the duration of your assignment, and have these items make up the bulk of your travel gear. The rest you can borrow, rent, or buy when you arrive at your assignment destination.