Travel nursing is a wonderful experience that will expand your career, but it does not come without its unique challenges. You’re living your dream, packing up and heading out to new destinations and experiences, serving patients with great care. You enjoy your life and your work–but it also means temporarily moving to a new location. For some people, this means spending a season apart from your friends or family. Here are some tips to maintain your long-distance relationships while you spend time as a travel nurse.
Make an effort to stay in touch
This sounds obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of work and travel. One day quickly blurs into the next and before you know it it’s been days or weeks since you’ve been in contact with the important people in your life. Set a goal before you leave for your first job that you will make those relationships a priority, no matter where you are.
This means making time. It means staying up an extra hour or getting up an hour early to talk to your children or partner before the day begins. It means setting aside time on your days off to engage in communication with friends, to make sure you call your mom. Put regular “dates” on your calendar to call or Facetime with your mom. Set a reminder on your phone to text your significant other at the same time every day, just to let them know you’re thinking about them. Send random messages to friends, maybe with a funny meme or a video you’ve discovered.
Some of the greatest advances in technology are available to us these days. Want to talk to that special someone halfway across the country? Want to send a birthday greeting to a friend? There are so many opportunities available to make that happen.
Platforms like Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, and even social media platforms have made it easy to connect. Set up accounts before you leave, and make sure your cell phone or other device is connected to those apps. Then schedule your calls! Seeing a loved one’s face while thousands of miles away can go a long way toward maintaining strong connections.
Consider setting up group chats with all of your family members or a bunch of friends. Text them all at once, and engage in conversations. Text is often an easy way to keep conversations flowing, as people can read and respond to each other when they are able.
Many people have discovered with streaming services like Netflix that they can still watch TV shows or movies together, even across the miles. Set a time to hop on Skype or Facetime, set your movie or show to begin simultaneously, and then enjoy the show!
Social media is a great way to stay in touch. Posting pictures of your travel adventures, being sure to notice and “like” events and happenings in your friends’ lives, even sending quick messages on the apps are little ways to keep in touch.
Letter writing doesn’t have to be a lost art form. Imagine what a wonderful surprise it would be for people to open up their mailboxes and find a handwritten letter from you. Send a card, with a “thinking of you” message. Stamps are still readily available, even in our age of email. And although emails are a quick and convenient way to communicate, taking the time to handwrite a message and then physically mail it says so much about your connection.
Send gifts, meals, or groceries
Technology gives us so many opportunities to reach out. Consider using Instacart or another grocery delivery service to send necessities to someone. Have a special meal delivered (there are even ways to have wine delivered if you are so inclined!) for a special day, or even just because. Nothing perks up a ho-hum Tuesday like a favorite meal showing up at your doorstep.
Send a gift via Amazon or other services. Many websites offer to ship for their wares, and picking out just the right present and having it delivered has never been easier.
Invite people to visit you
If possible, have your people plan a trip to visit you. Especially if you’re on assignment somewhere like San Diego or New York City, it might be an exciting idea for friends to come to where you are. They can enjoy the scenery and benefits of the location while getting to spend time with you! Look for museums, beaches, or other attractions. Take the time to enjoy your locale with your special someone.
Plan a romantic getaway with your partner when they visit. Pick out restaurants or other destinations they would like. Have flowers or other gifts ready when they arrive; your planning will speak volumes.
Even if you’re not somewhere exotic, having a partner or a friend come to visit you is a great way for both of you to stay connected to each other. And if you have children, having them come to visit Mom or Dad is almost non-negotiable!
Ultimately, it’s possible to continue to care for the people in your life while you’re away; all it takes is some intentional effort on your part to structure your schedule and your priorities in such a way that you make time for the important people in your life.
Travel nursing is exciting but can be lonely at times. Working to maintain important relationships in your life will go a long way toward mitigating that, and can even be a fun way to grow those relationships!