Staying Positive During Holidays as a Travel Nurse
By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
One of the hardest times to be away from family and friends is the holiday season. After Halloween, it seems most people are kept busy with holiday parties or other social events. Everyone decks their house out with fall decor followed closely by Christmas trees, and there are constant reminders that this is the time of year to be spent with the ones we love most.
Meanwhile, most of this excitement only serves to remind travelers how lonely it can be if loved ones do not live close. Even if you get to go home for the actual holiday the weeks leading up are usually full of activities that you cannot attend if you are miles away from friends and family.
Last year was the first year I was not able to be home for an extended period of time around the holidays. My assignment was about 8 hours from home, and my contract ended a couple of days before Christmas. I learned quickly not to focus on the negatives but to figure out ways to bring some holiday warmth and cheer to our home. As a travel nurse, space and practicality often play a part in what we can buy or how we decorate, but I have some great tips for brightening up your home and keeping busy even if you are solo around the holidays.
1. Stock up on cheap decor
- My favorite place to buy a few cheap but cute holiday decorations is Dollar Tree. They seem to be pretty widespread and they have everything from seasonal dishes to mini Christmas trees.
- Last year I made myself a challenge to spend $20 to decorate our Airbnb. We got a Christmas tree, garland and window clings, among other items. This helped bring some warmth to our place. After that assignment, we donated a few items and kept a few for our next holiday travel contract.
2. Buy seasonal candles
- I like to keep an eye at Bath and Body Works and Yankee Candle for sales leading up to the holidays. Scents like Pumpkin Spice or Gingerbread are perfect for giving your space a feeling of holiday cheer.
- If you are at a hotel or somewhere that does not allow open flames, the candle warmers work just as well! I like to look at Target for clearance candle warmers. Last year I got a cute hedgehog warmer for five dollars and we used it every day.
3. Treat yourself to a seasonal drink
- Nothing says holidays like eggnog or peppermint mocha. Google some of the local coffee shops or bakeries in your area and see which ones are known for gourmet lattes or homemade syrups.
- Even if you aren’t into coffee drinks, opt for peppermint tea or an adult holiday beverage. Lots of local wineries and breweries do special edition releases for the winter season, so look up locations near you and go check them out!
4. Scout out local holiday light displays
- Christmas light displays are a hallmark of holiday traditions. We have found tons of free displays in the different cities we have lived in, and they are so much fun!
- If you are having trouble finding them yourself, ask a coworker if they know of anything in the area. You could even suggest you make a night of it with a group of coworkers or other travelers in the area.
5. Reach out to other travelers on Facebook or MeetUp.
- If you are away from home and feeling a bit lonely around Thanksgiving and Christmas, chances are there are people nearby feeling the same way. Many travelers are not able to return home for the holidays and could be eager to meet up if they know someone is close.
- Try initiating a traveler get together on one of the Facebook groups for travel nurses. I have seen holiday travel parties with as many as a dozen people.
- You could also talk to HR at your hospital and get a feel for how many other travelers are in your facility, or see if there is a way to put out the message at work.
Being away from home around the holiday season may not be the most ideal, but you can definitely make the most of it with these simple steps. I have learned as a traveler that you have to focus on what you can be thankful for, rather than what you might be missing out on when you are away. We get the opportunity to see and experience so much, but sometimes the cost is loneliness in between.
During this time of year, the lonely feeling can be a bit pronounced. With that in mind, make plans you can look forward to by taking steps ahead of time. Make the first move to make new friends or connect with other travelers. Put in a little extra effort to find local activities to attend. Be prepared with ways to bring excitement to your situation even if the excitement looks different than it might if you were home for the holidays.
Alex McCoy currently works as a pediatric travel nurse. She has a passion for health and fitness, which led her to start Fit Travel Life in 2016. She travels with her husband, their cat, Autumn and their dog, Summer. She enjoys hiking, lifting weights, and trying the best local coffee and wine.
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