How to Stay in Contact with Friends and Family as a Travel Nurse
By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
When I first set off on my travel nursing adventure I could see the mixed emotions cross the faces of my loved ones. My mom had just gone through my brother moving out of state and I could tell the idea of having her children spread across the country made her a little sad. Meanwhile, a lot of my friends had experienced how people can drift apart as a result of college and grad school so they knew a move certainly changes the dynamic of relationships.
In the end, I had to do the thing that was best for myself and my family. In my heart, I realized that if I did not explore travel nursing I would always spend my life with a nagging “what if” in the back of my mind.
That being said I also valued my relationships with my family and close friends. I knew the balance between adventure and happiness would best be found by making time to keep in touch with all of my people back home a priority. By keeping this in mind from the get-go, I have found it easy to stay in touch and when I go home it hardly feels like I have been away. Here are some of my best tips for continuing your relationships as you move around the country.
Utilize social media
While I know some people are very anti-social media, I believe it is incredibly useful in keeping friends and family updated on your life. While I don’t use this as my number one form of communication, it makes everyone back home feel a little up to date with where I am and what I am doing even if we don’t talk super regularly.
I particularly love sharing photos because I can also use this to catalog some of my adventures. I am probably one of the few people who actually still uses the album and caption feature on Facebook, simply because it’s an easy way to make notes about photos I post. My family especially loves seeing photos as well, so I try to do a photo dump every month or so.
Make an effort to do more than text
Texting can be great for quick updates or to say I love you or check-in, but the deeper personal interactions cannot be conveyed via text. In a day and age where we have so many ways to connect virtually, I see texting as the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to real communication.
Instead, make a point to actually speak on the phone with the people you love back home. Better yet, use an app such as FaceTime, Zoom, or Marco Polo to video chat. This lets you read people’s voices and facial expressions and greatly cuts down on the feeling of distance between you and your loved ones.
Schedule time to connect with the people you care about
Each new location brings a whole host of new adventures to be had. Days off on travel nurse assignments can look very busy, so time seems to fly by. Before you know it you are four weeks in and all of your days off have been spent adventuring and you haven’t spoken to your best friend in over a month.
Instead of relying on pockets of free time to connect with people back home, schedule a time to chat just like you would schedule lunch or coffee if you were home. I usually text my best friend every other week or so and get a rundown of her schedule so we can pick a day to talk. Usually, we are able to actually catch up and talk for an hour or so rather than just getting snippets of life updates here or there.
Encourage people to come to visit.
One of the ways I convinced people to get excited about me traveling was to remind them that each assignment meant a new place for them to come explore. Some members of my family rarely traveled before we started moving around, so it’s been cool to see how us traveling has inspired them to get outside of their comfort zone and see the country as well.
Each of my apartments has been small but we always keep an air mattress and a few extra blankets on hand. Not only is it so fun to spend one on one time with the people who visit, but we love getting to show them how we live as travelers.
Prioritize the people in your life who you want to keep in contact with
This sounds a little harsh but the reality is you simply can’t keep up with every friend/coworker/family member/gym buddy from back home once you hit the road. Some people may be more likely to reach out to you, and you will find yourself realizing who is most important to keep up communication with as you go along.
Luckily I was at an age where I had a pretty solid list of the people I knew were important for me to keep up with. Aside from family, I had about three friends who either made an effort to reach out regularly or who I knew would be there for me no matter the distance. When time at home or time to chat was cut short, I made a point to prioritize these people first. By having this list in my head, it made it easier to figure out who I needed to schedule time with whether that was at home or via video or phone on assignment.
In the end, the little bit of extra effort is worth it
Thankfully we live in a time when staying connected is so much easier than it was even ten years ago. Leaving my friends and family behind was such a hard decision, but between technology and visits home between assignments, I rarely feel like I am missing out on too much. Putting a concerted effort into keeping in touch definitely makes a difference, and having those solid relationships to fall back on when you have a tough day or two on assignment can be such a relief.
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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