“Go bags” aren’t just for emergencies anymore. For travel nurses, picking up your life and moving to a new area is a regular occurrence. If you plan on making a career out of travel nursing, you need to learn to stay organized no matter what happens. So what should be the most important items on your packing list? Keep these items nearby, and you’ll be ready to tackle whatever your next travel nursing contract throws at you.
Essential items travel nurses should pack on every assignment
1. Must-have household essentials
Whether you take company housing or arrange your own lodging with your housing stipend, you can expect to be setting up shop in a new home regularly. Though many basic household items may be provided, your house will never feel like a home if you don’t have a few of your favorites around. Something as simple as a great set of sheets or your favorite kitchen appliance can instantly transform your new digs into a cozy environment. One of our team members has a favorite spa towel she brings on trips, just an idea!
2. Your entertainment
In just a few years, digital media has reshaped the way we entertain ourselves. VHS tapes gave way to DVDs, and today it’s common for our books, movies and music to be stored almost entirely in the cloud. Regardless, you still need a way to access your favorite pastimes. Whether you bring along a box of your favorite books and movies or simply access them from your tablet or computer, make sure you put some effort into your R&R on each assignment.
3. Prescriptions and a first-aid kit
When you’re busy with the big move, you might not have time to make it to a pharmacy if anything comes up. At times, obtaining important medicines can be difficult when you are far from home. To avoid any problems, make sure you have at least a week’s worth of any prescriptions before you take off for your new contract. In addition, a simple first-aid kit will help you manage any unexpected scrapes and injuries you sustain when you’re rushing to settle in.
4. Your scrubs, stethoscope and other work items
When you’re focused on leaving one job behind and moving to the next, it’s easy to leave a few essential items behind. Since we often keep uniforms and other work items at work in our lockers, you might realize (too late) that you left behind some of your most vital tools. What do you know you’ll need on every shift? Keep these items together so they’ll be easy to pack.
5. Your sense of adventure
Every one enters travel nursing for different reasons. If you’re taking a contract in a new area and your only goal is to work, work, work, you may be missing a big opportunity to sight-see. Whether your interest is art, music, food or outdoor sports, be open to taking advantage of the time you’re not saving lives, hero. For example, you could bring some basic outdoor gear that will allow you to explore your new area in comfort and safety.
6. Comfortable shoes
No one appreciates comfortable shoes as much as nurses do. When it comes to choosing the right footwear you don’t want to take any chances. Though you might feel like packing light should be a priority, this is not an area in which you should be stingy. Make sure you bring enough shoes to fit every need, especially at work.
7. Small, personal items
Styling utensils, photos of loved ones, fidget toys, phone chargers, and similar items are important to remember unless you want to spend some of that awesome stipend on travel versions. We don’t recommend that!
8. Personal documents
Many legal documents are irreplaceable. At the very least, it can be extremely difficult to replace or get a copy of a personal document when you are far from home. Unless you enjoy being on hold with the DMV or another government agency, make copies of vital documents such as your social security card and driver’s license and bring them with you on your trip. You will also find it very valuable to bring hard copies of your insurance; liability and health insurance specifically but perhaps you need to bring car insurance as a hard copy as well. I know a few people on our team who don’t keep that on hand since it’s available online, but regret it later!
9. Professional documents
Of course, the biggest potential disaster would be to arrive at a new contract, far from home, and realize you don’t have all the documents that you need to start working (and to arrange your next contract). To avoid any potential hiccups, keep your nursing license, professional certifications and other important documents in one secure place. Nurse credential management gets super tedious, we know. Keep it simple and easy on your shoulders by leveraging online tools and cloud storage, unless a hard copy is absolutely necessary.
10. A mattress cover (optionally all bedding items)
We don’t need to talk about bed bugs, do we?
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