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14 Loose Ends To Consider Before Leaving For A Travel Nursing Job

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Health Carousel Travel Nursing
October 24, 2022
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There are thousands of things racing through your head when you’re about to leave home for a travel nursing job. You’re most likely going to be gone for at least 13 weeks, so this isn’t an ordinary vacation. In addition to packing, planning the road trip, and making sure you have everything lined up for your assignment, you also need to make sure that you have all the loose ends tied off at home. So here are 14 travel nurse loose ends to consider before leaving your staff nurse position for a new adventure.

Before we begin, it’s important to remember that everyone’s situation will be different. Some people are leaving a typical staff nurse position and a permanent home to pursue a career in travel nursing. Some people live with family or friends and other registered nurse travelers have dropped owning an apartment or single-family home altogether. Still others are leaving one assignment to head to the next. Depending on your situation, some of the items on this list may or may not apply to you. However, all of them will probably come in handy at one point or another.

Also, we’ve recently published articles on packing tips for travel nurses and road trip tips for travel nurses. You may be interested in checking out our other blog articles since they cover tons of things related to travel nursing. 

LOOSE END CONSIDERATIONS FOR ALL TRAVEL NURSING JOBS

There are several items to consider before accepting any travel nursing position, whether it be through a travel nurse staffing agency, hospital paid staffing agencies or other staffing agencies. 

1) DETERMINE HOW TO HANDLE MAIL DURING YOUR TRAVEL NURSING ASSIGNMENT

Maintaining your personal business at home is one of the ways to ensure that you maintain your tax-home for tax purposes. Part of maintaining your personal business at home is making sure that all your personal mail is delivered there. Of course, you’ll need to access your mail while you’re on assignment, so there are several options.

Open a PO Box or physical address at a UPS Store or another business that provides similar services in the area of your tax home. Then, have them forward your mail to your assignment address. Of course, you’ll need to notify everyone of your address change or have the USPS forward all your mail to the new PO Box. If you are going to be gone less than 30 days, then you can simply place a hold on your mail with the USPS.

Many travel nurses have the USPS forward their mail temporarily. To do this, you’ll need to fill out a “Change of Address Form” and select the “Temporary” option. The USPS will let you do this for 6 months at a time and up to one full year. You can also use the Premium Forwarding Service offered by USPS. They will package your mail weekly and send it to the address you designate. This service is quite expensive though at $16.50 per week!

Another option is to have a friend or family member collect your mail and ship it to you. This option is probably the least efficient and reliable, but at least you’ll have someone stopping by your house on a periodic basis.

2) PUT A HOLD ON NEWSPAPERS

If you’re the person still receiving the newspaper, then it’s a good idea to put a hold on it before leaving for your assignment. Other registered nurses travelers have dropped their subscription and started up an online news subscription instead.

3) NOTIFY YOUR BANK AND ALL CREDIT CARD COMPANIES

Banks and Credit Card Companies take security very seriously these days. When they see that your bank or credit card is being used in unusual locations, the default reaction is to suspend the card. Be sure to contact them and let them know about your travel assignment itinerary and that you work in the travel nurse staffing industry.

Also, if you use a small local bank, then it might be a good idea to designate a cosigner or guardian on the account. This has to be a highly trusted individual of course, but it can save you tons of time if you ever run across a situation when your presence and signature are required.

4) PAY YOUR BILLS

Sure, you can pay your bills while you’re on the road and chances are that you have automatic bill payments set up for the vast majority of your bills anyway. But for those travel nurses that aren’t, making sure that they’re taken care of beforehand will make your trip that much simpler.

5) FIGURE OUT YOUR TRAVEL NURSING HEALTHCARE COVERAGE

Fortunately, you’ll be reminded to consider what you’re going to do about health coverage when you discuss your travel nurse contract with your agency. The important thing to remember is that a significant percentage of travel nurses change agencies several times during their careers. This often results in a change in health insurance companies, which can affect continuity of care and gaps in insurance coverage. Or if your staffing agency cancels your assignment, then sometimes medical insurance is dropped at the end of the month. So, you might want to look into securing your own health coverage instead of relying on your travel nurse contracts for insurance. Sometimes individual health insurance carriers offer negotiated contract rates to nurses. 

Either way, it’s important to know how this will affect your ability to stay with your primary care physician. Also, it’s important to understand how your health coverage handles your moving from state to state. Different states have different rules and not all plans work in all states. As a result, it’s a good idea to get all this figured out prior to hitting the road.

6) TAKE CARE OF PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS

Dealing with prescription medications can be a nuisance while on assignment. Make sure that you stock up on as much as you can prior to leaving home. Also, prior to obtaining medical coverage, make sure that any prescriptions you’re taking are covered by the new plan. Or if they aren’t covered, ask if they offer negotiated contract rates on your medications.

7) NOTIFY FAMILY AND/OR FRIENDS OF YOUR ITINERARY

Make sure that people have a detailed description of your itinerary. Also, be sure to let someone know that you’ll be checking in daily during the migration portion of the assignment.

8) CONFIRM ALL RESERVATIONS

Prior to leaving, be sure to confirm all hotels, car rentals, apartment rentals and any other accommodations and services that you’re counting on. Also, sometimes travel nursing staffing agencies cancel or postpone start dates, pending background checks, licenses, etc. Call your staffing agency a few days prior to your scheduled travel to confirm dates. 

9) PROGRAM NEEDED PHONE NUMBERS INTO YOUR PHONE

It’s best to program numbers into your phone for all the services you’ll be relying on throughout your trip. This can include doctors, dentists, veterinarians, and many other services. Also, program the phone numbers for your recruiter, your agency, and the hospital where you’ll be working.

10) CHECK THE WEATHER ON YOUR ROUTE AND DURING YOUR STAY

Be sure to check the weather along your route just to be prepared for anything unusual. If there is a chance for inclement weather, like a snow storm, account for this as well. Many healthcare facilities and hospitals request that you work on these days. Other healthcare facilities may make it a requirement to work extra shifts during inclement weather.

11) WITHDRAW CASH AND CHANGE IT FOR SMALL BILLS AND CHANGE

Many travel nurses choose not to carry cash, but it’s important to at least have some in hand. Don’t get caught off guard at toll booths, parking, or during tipping situations.

12) CHECK YOUR CELL PHONE PLAN

Make sure that your cell phone plan won’t result in massive charges while you’re on the road. Some mobile plans are local and when you travel, you might lose service and rack up roaming charges. Work with your carrier to find the plan that’s right for your situation.

CONSIDERATIONS FOR TRAVEL NURSES LEAVING THEIR HOME BEHIND

13) DON’T TIP OFF CRIMINALS

Criminals are crafty little devils. It probably seems cliche to say that criminals use social media to help them with their crimes. In the United States, everyone from the National Crime Prevention Council to State Farm Insurance strongly advises against posting your travel plans on social media.

Facebook and LinkedIn Groups have become exceedingly popular for travel nurses and even staff registered nurses. It’s important to remember that many of these groups are completely public. The content you post on there can be viewed by anyone and everyone. It’s important to remember that when posting on these sites.

14) CONSIDER A TIMER FOR LIGHTS

Some travel nurses like to turn their electricity off when they leave their house for long periods and that may be okay. However, if you’re of the mindset that a little light around the house could ward off potential burglars, then consider putting some of your lights on timers. Timers are easy to use and recommended by many law enforcement officials.

The rest of the considerations are pretty much a checklist of things to do before leaving your house behind. Rather than waste your time with a bunch of obvious explanations, here’s the list:

  • Discard perishable food items
  • Take out all the trash
  • Run the dishwasher
  • Lock all windows and doors
  • Clear the garbage disposal
  • Set the thermostat to a proper setting
  • Close the blinds and curtains
  • Turn off the main water supply
  • Check the sump pump
  • Let the police know you’ll be out if more than 30 days
  • Sprinkle baking soda in toilets and sink drains
  • Switch off gas unless needed for heating
  • Switch off alarm clock
  • Switch off electricity if you don’t need or want to use it for anything else

If you’re worried about missing something, create a running checklist. This will help you stay focused and set a timeline for completing necessary tasks before starting your next travel assignment.

As always, we hope you’ve found this information useful. Please post any questions or comments in the comments section below, and let us know if we missed something!

Interested in learning more about becoming a travel nurse? Talk to one of our HCTN recruiters today! Our recruiters work with you to start your travel nursing career off strong.

Health Carousel Travel Nursing

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Interested in how the pay stacks up in other states not on this list? Our trusty Super Nurse sidekicks are standing by to answer any questions you have. Click below to get information on opportunities in other states!

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