Getting ready to go is a huge part of travel nursing. Get ahead of the game and start searching for your next travel nurse assignment with NurseFly. The more time you have for planning and prep , the less stressed you will feel as your time to leave gets closer.
Preparing Prior to Travel Nursing
You obviously aren’t going to be able to bring all of your belongings and what you DO need can be a challenge.
First, sort through your belongings and sell or giveaway anything you deem an unnecessary part of your life. As I was sorting through my clothes this past summer, my rule was: If it wasn’t worn in the past year, it was given away. Sell or pack away knick-knacks that will serve you no purpose as you travel.
If you need to get rid of furniture and other household items that can’t be sold, try to find a church or other organization that will come retrieve the items from your home for free and give them to people in need. Always ask around at work if the furniture is in decent condition! I was able to give away two beds to people that had growing children.
Salvation Army and Goodwill will take things in acceptable condition, or you can always try a ‘junk’ removal service if that is available in your area. Your life will feel lighter, and you’ll feel good about helping those in need.
Storage is an option for items you just can’t part with. If you don’t have a large amount of things to store, reach out to friends and family and ask if they have any room in the basement/attic before coughing up the cash for a storage unit. I posted a request on Facebook and I ended up saving money by not needing to rent an over sized unit in which I would use less than half of the space.
Other Things to Consider:
If you don’t want to feel wasteful or be stuck with a fridge full of food, try to eat everything you can before you go. Dried goods can be donated, but cold food often gets tossed in the trash. This may require getting creative with some meals, but you will most likely not be bringing a cooler as large as your refrigerator. (Bringing a small cooler along for snacks and drinks on a road trip is a good idea. It will save you money and the guilt of eating gas station snacks the whole way.)
If you are moving out of an apartment or home, plan for a day of cleaning and repair (if necessary) prior to your departure. This will ensure you receive your security deposit and won’t leave you scrambling the day before you leave. Coordinate with those traveling with you. If you travel with a roommate, avoid bringing double items and get together to discuss what is important to each of you to bring.
Planning for Travel Nursing Transit
As nurses, we love to plan for the best and the worst. This should apply to our travel journeys as well. Sometimes in the rush of packing and planning to leave our homes, we neglect to remember basic safety and comfort items.
Driving to Your Next Travel Nurse Assignment
If you are driving, optimize your car’s performance and decrease the likelihood of a breakdown. Get an oil change, check the tires/breaks, etc. It may be helpful to carry a jump-start kit/cables, a gauge to check tire air pressure, a membership to AAA, and the spare tire/jack for your car. Knowing the location of the tire and jack is important. I have a Honda CR-V and mine are located under a panel in the hatchback trunk. I remembered this as I loaded the last item in the car (packed to the roof)🤦♀️ Thankfully, I did NOT get a flat tire, but this would have been a nightmare to have to unpack on the side of the road.
It’s a good idea to clean out your car before travel. It may seem counter-intuitive, but do you want to pack all of your stuff in a dirty car and drag that dirt into your new home? Plus, you’ll feel organized and less stressed if you aren’t counting the dust bunnies on the dashboard while driving.
If you feel your car is unreliable or unsafe for long distance travel, look into purchasing a new one, or renting a truck to pack and tow the car for your trip to your travel nurse assignment.
Air Travel to Your Travel Nurse Destination
If flying to your next travel nurse location, pack an extra change of clothes and your spare battery/charger in your carry on in case you are stranded somewhere overnight. You should bring an empty reusable water bottle through security. Many airports have water fill stations to keep you hydrated. Don’t forget a neck pillow, socks, earplugs, and blanket or sweatshirt to keep you warm in that chilly recycled airplane air.
And, don’t stress if you are delayed or miss a connection. Getting worked up is the least helpful thing to do in this situation. Call your recruiter and let them know your situation. Proceed to the customer service desk of the airline for re-booking assistance.
NOTE: if you booked through a 3rd party website you may have to contact them and not the airline for help. Have their customer service number saved in your phone somewhere easily accessible.
When To Arrive for Your Travel Nursing Job
You may feel very under-prepared for your first day. Instructions for orientation are sometimes not given out until 1 business day prior. Don’t panic, you WILL get the information. For me, as an obsessive planner, this tends to give me some stress. But, the facility and agency always come through, albeit last minute, and I have the information I need by the start date.
Be patient, and have faith it will all fall into place- this is good advice for all aspects of travel nursing 😉
I do NOT suggest arriving only 1 day prior to your start date. If you are able to, give yourself AT LEAST 2-3 days, even if you have to rent a hotel room for a day or two before your agency housing kicks in (if you are finding your own accommodations, move in at least a few days before your start date). Most agencies will allow you to move in 2 days before your start date. Give yourself time to adjust a bit and get a good rest before your first day.
If you cannot arrive until the day before try to be as organized as possible and don’t stress about unpacking before your start date. You are most likely going to be there for at least 3 months, so don’t worry about getting everything done the first week.
BONUS TIP: If you don’t need the money immediately, ask your agency to work your ‘travel bonus’ into your weekly pay or into some other non bonus form. ‘Bonuses’ are often taxed exponentially more than other pay. Keep receipts from gas or airfare for reimbursement.