By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
This year Thanksgiving is looking different for a lot of people, even travel nurses who are used to spending the holidays away from family. Even if you are used to being away from home during Thanksgiving, in the past us travelers could reach out to each other and host a travel-style “Friendsgiving” if we wanted to get festive.
However, as cities start to implement stricter rules for gatherings and people are becoming increasingly cautious about socializing, many travelers may be hesitant to gather with a bunch of strangers in a home to celebrate the holiday. Instead, here are a few options you can consider to still make the day feel special without feeling too unsafe.
1. Take the time to plan something.
Instead of just letting Thanksgiving go by as if it is just any old day, take the time and effort to make the day special somehow. Do your best to go in with a good attitude and an open-minded perspective, and there are a lot of ways you can make it a good time.
2. Reach out to a small group of travelers at your facility.
At most hospitals, there are at least a few travelers working at any given time. Even if you haven’t gotten a chance to know your fellow travelers, consider reaching out and seeing if they would be interested in a small gathering. A lot of the time the other travel nurses will be feeling similarly and will be more than happy to spend some time with other travelers outside of work.
3. Look for outdoor venues for a gathering.
Research is indicating that outdoor gatherings are considerably safer than gathering in a small space. If you are currently on assignment in a warm climate–take advantage of this! Do something a little out of the ordinary like a bring-your-own picnic meet-up at a park or see if someone has a deck or patio that could host. This way you can social distance safely and still get to enjoy the company on the holiday.
4. Look up fun ways to cook for a small group.
A lot of food blogs have risen to the challenge when it comes to helping you plan for a smaller Thanksgiving celebration. Even if you are only cooking for yourself or a couple of friends, there are tons of resources floating around on this topic. I am loving these mini pumpkin pies by Fed and Fit (you could freeze extras if needed!). All Recipes also put together an entire Thanksgiving menu that can easily be modified to smaller portions.
5. Explore takeout options.
I was recently shopping for ready-made Thanksgiving dinners to see what the options were for avoiding cooking and I was pleasantly surprised by all of the choices available. A lot of local grocery stores are offering take and reheat options starting with portions for two people. Or, if you are feeling fancy I have seen options like steak and lobster with Thanksgiving sides. Also be sure to check out local homestyle restaurants, as many places are putting together meal options that can either be picked up ready-to-eat or prepped and ready to heat at home.
6. Consider volunteering.
If you just aren’t feeling up to eating a traditional holiday feel without the traditional holiday season, I highly recommend taking time to give back and fill up your cup in that way. Look for homeless shelters, youth homes, or churches in the area that might be serving the less fortunate.
7. Start a new travel nurse tradition.
For most people, travel nursing will be a short portion of their life. Even if it might seem overwhelming or sad to be alone for the holidays, the best thing you can do is try to shift your perspective and create your own unique holiday traditions. If cooking up a bunch of comfort food doesn’t sound appealing, maybe order Chinese takeout and watch your favorite movie. Take yourself to a nice hotel and order room service in your pajamas. Plan a weekend trip to explore the area you are living in. Whatever you do, your attitude towards the whole experience will be the most powerful thing you can control.
No matter where you are this holiday season, I encourage you to make the best of it. Be intentional, take the time to plan something special, and even if your Thanksgiving doesn’t turn out to be what you would “typically” picture, you will still have a memorable time.
Being a travel nurse comes with a unique set of challenges, and holidays are one of the things that many people don’t consider before becoming a traveler. However, as you grow in this career your perspective and will shift as well, and you will figure out how to make your own unique traditions.
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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