As a travel nurse, you’re constantly on the go to new locations and facilities. It is easy to feel overwhelmed before your travel nursing assignment, and that’s perfectly normal. It’s a feeling that travel nurses experience no matter how many assignments they have under their belt.
Whether it’s your first contract or one of many, there are certain things you want to have and accomplish on every travel assignment. Everything goes much more smoothly when you’ve done some planning and have the right tools in place. Here are a few tips and tricks for your travels.
Before Your Travel Nursing Assignment
Before you take off, you should properly prepare for the weeks ahead. Ensure your home is in order, you have all the necessities, and notify those who should know how long you will be away. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Research Your Destination. This step is the most important. You need to know where you’re headed and what you should be expecting. When you arrive, will there be warm weather, or should you break out the heavy coats? Are there activities that suit your interests nearby? What about food? Thorough research will let you know exactly what to expect.
- Pack Light. While it may be tempting to pack up everything you own, traveling with a large load only makes moving from one place to another more difficult and time-consuming. If you’re not really going to use something throughout your 13-week travel assignment, leave it at home. You will most likely purchase souvenirs during your stay, so you’ll need to leave room for the extra items.
- Prepare Your Primary Home. Of course, your specific family situation will help determine what needs to be done before you leave. Let your post office and bank know you’ll be out of town and set up your mail or forwarding address. Another consideration is making sure you have family or friends who can keep an eye on your house, pets if you have them, take care of your lawn or garden, etc.
En Route to Your Travel Nursing Assignment
Related to researching your destination, mapping out your route beforehand will save you so much time and stress. If you plan to road trip your way to your travel assignment, you’ll feel more confident when you know how far it is to the next stop. Check the location for rest stops, gas stations, and well-reviewed local eateries to know where and when to stop. Long hours of travel feel easier when broken up with chances to stretch and have a snack. Be sure to also schedule regular maintenance for your vehicle before the long drive. A full-service evaluation should include examining and testing brakes, lights, fluids, transmission, cooling and heating systems, and tires—the most common parts of a vehicle to fail.
If you decide to catch a flight to your assignment, there are a few tips to note. You’ll definitely want to minimize excess baggage charges by packing your luggage as efficiently as possible. Like driving, map out where you will be when you land so you don’t hit the ground scrambling. If you’re not renting a car, where is the nearest public transit? How far are you from work, the grocery store, and any other place you may need access to?
Home Sweet Home
It can be lonely and a little nerve-wracking once you’ve made it to your new home. Creating a living environment that is comfortable and relaxing is essential for your health and happiness throughout your assignment. There are a few ways you can quickly become accommodated to your new surroundings:
- Unpack Right Away. Nothing says “this is not my home” like living out of your suitcases or boxes. The best way to get rid of that temporary feeling is to unpack your things within the first couple of days. Putting away all of your belongings will help you accommodate more quickly and eliminate any unnecessary clutter.
- Fill The Blank Spaces. Meaningful mementos placed throughout can make your housing feel comforting and more familiar. Inexpensive artwork, wall decals, posters, and tapestries help decorate generic walls and add a little personality.
- Get Straight Into Your Routine. Travel nursing jobs provide the opportunity for spontaneity and adventure, but it is still essential to have some form of a routine while you’re on the road. Drinking a cup of coffee in the morning, writing in your journal daily, or even consistent bedtime practices can make you feel more at home in your new place.
- Prepare For Your First Day! The day before you go in for your shift, set out your uniform, fill up your equipment bag, and double-check to ensure that you have everything you need. Pack your lunch and make sure you have the necessary paperwork, including your ID, certifications, and licenses. It’s going to be great.
Making sure you’re adequately prepared for any travel assignment can take some time. Once you’ve gotten into the swing of things, successful contracts can be a door opening to an exciting, adventure-filled career as a working tourist.