10 Things to bring on your first travel assignment
By Natalie Newman, Contributing Writer
If you have the exciting opportunity to become a travel nurse, you might be scared or nervous. I was so nervous before my first travel assignment I hardly thought about what I really needed and I overpacked. Now after doing multiple travel assignments, I’ve figured out exactly what I need to enjoy the opportunity to its fullest. Here are some important things to bring with you to make your experience fun and stress-free.
You will likely forget many of the people you meet and adventures you have while traveling as a nurse. The time goes quickly. In order to preserve the memories, I write a daily paragraph in my journal about my experiences.
I enjoy looking back and reliving the memories. Also, its enlightening to see how much I’ve grown as a person and have changed my mindset with each travel assignment. I notice that I have more fun when I have a positive attitude and zero expectations.
This website is a necessity before every travel assignment. Just type in the city you are going to and the top “things to do” will pop up. I scroll through all of them and jot down ones to try on my days off in my planner. Make sure to read the reviews first!
As nurses, we all know our olfactory senses affect our mood. Some places you will stay aren’t going to smell as lovely as the pictures look. Therefore, a nice burning soy organic candle with essential oils can make your home away from home instantly peaceful and calming. Sometimes I’ll stay in a really cheap place, but as long as I have my vanilla lavender candle, I feel like I’m at a spa.
Some of the best advice I received from other travel nurses was to travel light. Don’t get bogged down with a lot of stuff. Traveling light allows you to be free to make room for experiences. The best way to travel light and always have a stylish outfit is to have your basic clothes in black. Everything you bring should match for easy outfit options. Adding a colorful scarf enhances any basic black wardrobe.
I use a large scarf to cover sketchy pillowcases at Airbnb rentals, accessorize outfits, protect me from the sun, and keep me warm. I use this large scarf, folded up, as a pillow on a plane, and opened up, as a blanket at the movies. Basically, I never leave home without one.
Something from home
Let’s face it—being a travel nurse can be lonely at times. Bringing something from home, whether it’s a picture, a clothing item, a piece of jewelry, or a favorite pillow, can be very comforting. Anything to remind you of home or family is a must.
Your favorite cooking pot
Lots of rented cozy places that include a kitchen have used pots that are black and crusty. I found I enjoyed cooking more when I had at least one of my own cooking pots.
Sending postcards has unfortunately become a lost art. To keep the art or postcard writing alive, I send them to loved ones on every travel assignment. I love to buy postcards from a local gift shop as a way share my experiences and for others to see the landmarks or landscapes of my travel stays.
MDpocket.com has small reference cards you can attach to your hospital badge. Also, you can order any type of quick medical reference cards on Amazon, specific for your unit and needs.
When I was on a pediatric assignment, I ordered one card about pediatric vital signs and lab ranges because it had been so long since I studied pediatrics. It was a life-saver…literally!
Here are some apps I found helpful during my travels:
- Google Translate for communication in any language
- Uber or Lyft for transportation needs
- Airbnb for unique housing experiences
- Yelp for the hottest food spots.
Lastly, always bring a smile! Enjoying your time is what life is all about.
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