By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
Reaching out to new people can be scary at first, but more than likely the travelers in your area also want some new friends to hang out with. By making the first move, you could be opening yourself up to a brand new, awesome friendship!
1. Try to Connect During Orientation
While a lot of orientations are being modified due to Covid, some hospitals are still doing a socially distant version for travel nurses. These days are usually short and sweet, so the best way to make connections here is to be direct.
After engaging with a fellow travel nurse, simply say “I think it would be great if we exchanged numbers, in case we need to get in touch later or if we need someone to have a post-shift beer with”. Sounds cheesy, but it will usually do the trick. I would say 99% of the time, the other traveler will be thankful you reached out and appreciative that they have a reason to exchange numbers with someone locally.
2. A Little Facebook Stalking Also Works
I promise this is not as creepy as it sounds. If you are a little nervous to reach out in person, or you simply do not get the chance, try to find a few travelers you met in orientation on social media. I have found that most travel nurses have a wider array of friends than people with permanent jobs might, so they are probably fine with a friend request even if you don’t know each other well.
You could also just use this as a way to reach out and start a friendly conversation without actually sending a friend request!
3. Find a Fun Public Outing for a Group
It is a lot easier to make plans with a group of people you don’t know well if you have a solid outline of what you will actually be doing. This can help eliminate any awkwardness or discomfort that comes with getting to know someone new.
This time of year it is great to look for local holiday displays or events. Even with Covid, a lot of communities are finding ways to have socially distant events or promoting more outdoors–you might just have to bundle up!
While you don’t have to have a rock-solid “itinerary” planned, a general layout for the time is a good idea. That way if conversation hits a lull or one thing turns out to be a bit of a bust, you can move on to the next activity.
5. Find Area Specific Travel Groups
While there are a lot of general travel nursing groups out there, you would be shocked at how many city-specific groups there are as well. Particularly in larger cities like Phoenix, Seattle, and San Francisco, you can find Facebook groups specifically for that area.
These are great because if you want to get a group together you can simply post an open invite there and likely get a decent turnout. My best tip for this is to simply pick a time and date–trying to find a date that will accommodate multiple nursing schedules can be a pain.
6. Ask Your Recruiter
If you find yourself in a situation where you are the only travel nurse on your unit, it can be tricky to figure out where to go to meet friends. In this case, try reaching out to your agency or recruiter to see if they have any other travelers on contract in the area!
Even if they don’t personally have anyone on contract there, they may have a coworker who does. You just never know, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.
7. Attend the Traveler’s Conference
Networking is a huge part of having a successful travel career, and also helps with the loneliness that can come with the travel nurse lifestyle. One way to meet a whole bunch of travelers at once is to attend the Traveler’s Conference, also known as TravCon.
This is an educational conference held every September in Las Vegas. Typically it attracts close to 1500 travelers from all specialties. There is food, educational breakout sessions, and a ton of opportunities to meet other people you can connect with the rest of the year.
I realize a lot of this article almost seems like a series of bad dating tips–but please rest assured that social norms are just a little different when you connect with fellow nurses who have also moved hundreds of miles away from home with no real connections or friends nearby.
Get out of your comfort zone a little bit, reach out to new people, and do not let your fear of rejection stop you from sparking what could be a lifelong friendship!
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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