6 Packing Tips Every Travel Nurse Must Know

Travel nurses are faced with a unique situation when it comes to packing for their travel nursing jobs. It can be stressful, especially when it’s your first assignment or your first time visiting a specific destination. 

When you’re moving so frequently, having a list and some handy tips and tricks ready can save you time, headaches, and frustration. Luckily, we have a few to share so you can spend less time worrying about packing your bags and more time enjoying your trip. 

Ready to hit the ground running? Check out these 6 tips to make the most out of your packing experience!

6 Must Know Travel Nursing Tips

1. Make Sure You Know Where You’re Going

There’s nothing worse than packing for some fun in the sun when you should have grabbed your heavy-duty winter clothes. Don’t get caught in unexpected weather. From sunny and warm to cold and snowy, the climate you’re headed to has a significant impact on what you’ll pack, so before leaving on your travel nursing assignment, it’s important to check the weather.

Check the weather as far in advance as possible, but trust your gut if your destination is notorious for being hot or a little chilly (you would never need snow skis in Miami, Florida). Try searching for detailed information such as seasonal temperature averages and rainfall amounts.

2. Always Bring Paperwork And Important Documents

While clothing can be relatively easy to replace, it can cost a lot of money and time to get important paperwork replaced or shipped to you by a family member. Gather all of your documents and put them in a secure location. You may need your:

  • Driver’s license
  • Nursing license and credentials 
  • Social security card
  • Birth certificate
  • Travel nursing contract and other documents
  • Insurance policy

Bring a list of emergency phone numbers as well, with a hard copy in your wallet and a digital list on your phone. Include your primary doctor, travel nurse agency, and insurance agent.

3. Prioritize Your Items

While your travel nursing assignment isn’t a permanent relocation or a short trip, you don’t need to pack like you’re never returning home. Before packing anything, really think about what items are absolutely necessary and what can be left behind. Also, consider what items can be purchased when you arrive at your destination. This is an ideal option if you’re flying and want to upgrade your travel-sized toiletries. Don’t bring anything you rarely use. Items you don’t use now probably won’t be used during your travel nursing assignment either.

4. Maximize Your Space

As mentioned above, prioritizing what you pack will make traveling more manageable. 

But you should also think about packing smarter. What does that mean? For clothes, pick things you can easily mix and match, including your scrubs, and opt for functional clothing & shoes you don’t mind wearing on repeat. Use strategies like rolling your clothes instead of folding them so you have more room for a few extra options or space for your other essentials. Utilize space cubes or compression bags if you need to pack a lot but don’t want to check numerous suitcases. 

Consider what tech you need and how it may be downsized. In the market for a new laptop? Consider a smaller, sleeker model so it fits easily in a carry-on with room to spare. Travel bags specifically designed for electronics and your toiletries come in handy to make sure your tech is secure and won’t get damaged.

Be thoughtful about how everything is organized so that when you have to unpack, you don’t have to dig around to find the essentials. 

5. Label Everything

For longer travel nursing assignments, the more organized you are in your packing, the better. Give each room its own suitcase or tote and clearly label everything. This way, your things will be easy to find, and unpacking will go a whole lot smoother. Packing with space cubes can be a great option for organization because they come in different colors, allowing you to stay organized while color-coding your luggage. 

6. Try A Packing App

There’s an app for everything nowadays, including packing! These apps can conveniently save your packing lists and create lists for different situations and destinations. What you need for 2-week travel nurse assignments will vary from what you need for an 8-week travel nurse contract, and these lists can help you track those differences. They will even pre-populate a list of recommended items you can keep or discard at your convenience. They have the potential to save you a lot of time in the long run.

If you don’t want to download yet another app, there are a few websites that can generate packing lists for you. Enter a destination, weather conditions, duration of stay, accommodations, and other details, and these sites will develop a list based on that criteria.

7. Have Fun

Last, but not least make sure to make the most of your time. When you’re traveling, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy yourself. Take pictures of your favorite places and post them online, take the time to meet new people, and truly enjoy this opportunity. The preparation and packing can seem daunting, but it’s important to always keep the end goal in mind.

With a bit of forethought and planning, packing up and moving doesn’t have to be difficult or frustrating. Keep these tips in mind, and you can focus on what’s really important – your travel nursing career and love of travel! If you’re ready to find your next destination, view our job board for available travel nurse jobs in the top travel nurse locations!

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