How to Plan an Epic (and Easy) Road Trip as a Travel Nurse

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
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As the demand for nurses continues to grow, travel nurses have become an increasingly popular option. Travel nursing companies place nurses in healthcare facilities throughout the country. The life of a travel nurse is exciting and travel nurses understand how to make the most out of everything they do. Each new assignment brings the opportunity to explore a new city, network with new people, and gain valuable professional experience.

Many travel nurses choose to drive to their assignments, taking the opportunity to experience the cities they pass through. The freedom to stop and explore along the way is the beauty of travel nursing. Travel nurses often take detours to visit national parks, historic landmarks, and local attractions. Travel nursing road trips are one of the most exciting parts of being a travel nurse.

Another benefit to driving to your next assignment is the ability to bring personal belongings and equipment. Many nurses choose to travel with their car so they don’t have to figure out transportation to and from their assignments each day.

After you iron out the details of your travel nursing contract with your recruiter, plan an epic travel nurse road trip to experience a mini-vacation before digging your heels in your next assignment.

Why a Good Trip Is Important

Traveling is one of the best ways to disconnect and recharge. Planning a travel nursing road trip to your next destination is a great way to decompress before your next assignment. Some nurses opt to travel with a companion to make the journey more enjoyable and less lonely. Whether you make the trip alone or with a partner, family, or friend, you know you are in for a memorable and epic adventure.

Planning your travel nurse road trip can help you get excited about your upcoming assignment. Taking the time to relax on the road can help you unwind and lessen any anxiety about your new assignment. Road-tripping will help you explore new areas along your route and expose you to new people and places. It is a great time to check off those bucket list travel destinations you have been wanting to check out.

A good travel nursing road trip is important to lessen stress and boost your mood before you settle into your next assignment.

Consider these ideas for things to see and do along the way:

  • National parks: For travel nurses who are nature lovers, visiting a national park is a relatively inexpensive way to get your fix of flora and fresh air. Camping is also an option for those adventurous travelers.
  • Fun eats: Explore the best and most interesting flavors along the road to reward yourself for a long day of driving.
  • More than just parks: Use this site to help you plan your epic road trip.

Factors to Consider for a Trip

Logistics aside, the recipe for any epic travel nurse road trip includes yummy snacks, beautiful sights, spontaneous adventures, and a solid playlist. Plan out the details of your trip, such as how long it will take, where you will stay, and places you want to see along the way. Planning ahead, staying alert while driving, and taking regular breaks are all important steps to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Once you have the essentials of your trip mapped out, you can leave the rest for adventure and spontaneity.

1. Plan your drive: Find out the total drive time from your initial departure to your final destination on Google maps. Break up the drive into manageable chunks while zooming in on cities to stay in along the way. The shorter the drive time per day, the more room you will have for spontaneous activities. Try to be reasonable about how long you (and your potential driving buddy) can drive in one day. Allowing extra time to sightsee is optional but can make the drive feel less tedious.

2. Choose where you will spend the night: Consider lodging expenses when calculating your budget. Decide if you want to book a home on Airbnb or make a reservation in a hotel. Compare prices and see what makes the most sense for the amount of time your stay will be. Remember to factor in any travel stipends to help you keep costs low. If you have any family or friends along your route, you may want to ask if you can crash with them to save on lodging and while spending time with loved ones.

3.Give a little love to your vehicle: A quick safety check is necessary to ensure your car is up to date on any oil changes, lights, fluids, and filters. Make sure your brakes and tires are in good condition. Clear any check engine lights or error messages before beginning your journey. The last thing you want to do is to be stuck on the side of the road. Consider signing up with a roadside assistance agency like AAA and keep their information and any insurance and registration documents readily available.  

Depending on weather conditions you may want to pack ice scrapers and tire chains if you will be driving through snow. Check the weather ahead of time to know what to expect. You want to avoid any possible dangerous situations. It is also a good idea to make sure you have a spare tire, jack, flares, and a first aid kit with extra water, blankets, and flashlights available for worst-case scenarios. In the event, you lose your cell phone signal and are unable to access your GPS you may want to pack a paper map of your route just in case.

Pack road trip essentials: Your personal road trip survival kit should include plenty of healthy snacks, toiletries, and comfort-boosting items.

Your travel nurse road trip essentials may include:

  • Sunglasses and prescription glasses (if needed for driving.)
  • Prescription medication or any medication or supplements you anticipate needing. Being prepared will give you easy access when you need it.
  • Flexible clothing and comfortable sneakers.
  • Sunscreen: You are still getting a considerable amount of UV exposure while driving in the car. In the same vein, grab a good chapstick with SPF. Traveling tends to exacerbate chapped lips—especially if the air conditioning is running for long hours.
  • Car phone chargers and auxiliary cords for music if you do not have Bluetooth capabilities.
  • Keep a mini-cooler stocked with water within arm’s reach. Consider packing fresh and healthy options to avoid eating overly processed, high-sugar snacks. It will help you save money along the way.
  • A small blanket and pillow for comfort and taking short breaks.
  • An extra outfit in case you need to freshen up or something to wear to explore. Weather depending, you may want to add a swimsuit, workout attire for hiking, a rain jacket, or a winter coat if you are traveling through a cold climate. It is helpful to have a sweatshirt or light jacket on hand if you get cold in the car. You won't want to waste time riffling through your neatly packed luggage.
  • Self-care items to help you unwind, such as a yoga mat or a small foam roller to relieve tension in your hip flexors and neck.
  • Wipes for cleaning spills and small bags to collect your trash.

Stay safe: Make sure to stay alert while driving and take regular breaks to rest and stretch your legs.

Keep yourself entertained: Sometimes, long drives can be a time of deep contemplation and peaceful daydreaming. Although, hours of staring at the road might leave you seeking some stimulation.

There are plenty of options to keep you lively and focused on the road, such as listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and music. Whether you are listening to three hours of Justin Beiber’s top hits, your favorite travel nursing podcast dishing out travel nursing job tips, or the pristine silence of the drive whistling around you, there is a pleasure to be found in every moment of the journey.

Some ways to stay entertained include:

  • Spotify and Itunes: These services offer access to a large selection of popular podcasts and artists for a small fee. Sing along to your favorite tunes, learn about a new topic, dive into a true crime mystery, or laugh at your favorite comedian.
  • Consider downloading Audiobooks for free through public library systems or a paid service like Audible.
  • Listen to a travel nursing podcast to learn about traveler road trip essentials and travel nursing companies. Take comfort that other travel nurses understand the journey you are embarking on.
  • Go old school and turn on the radio. You never know what you may hear, and it will keep you on your toes.
  • Play car games if you have a buddy with you.
  • Call a friend and catch up with them (if it is legal to be on your phone in the area and if you can do so safely without distraction).

1. Allow for spontaneity: You do not have to take the most linear path if you have a little wiggle room in timing. Plan for a small detour if it means you can stop by that national forest or waterfall you have been dying to see.

2. Give yourself time to settle: Try to arrive at your travel assignment destination at least a few days before the contract begins. Give yourself enough time to acclimate to your new travel nurse housing and surroundings. Take a walk or drive around your new neighborhood to scope out your new surroundings. Take the time to stock up on groceries and find new restaurants. Locate the local gas station, gym, and anything else you need to be comfortable in the area. You may also want to do a practice run to the healthcare facility to know where it is and how long it will take you to get there daily.

About Health Carousel Travel Nursing

Remember that this epic road trip is only the beginning of your travel nursing adventure and there is more to look forward to during the rest of your assignment with one of the top travel nursing companies. Health Carousel Travel Nursing offers full-circle support to help travel nurses further their careers and improve their quality of life. We offer comprehensive benefits packages as well as travel nurse housing, to ensure that you are covered whether it's on assignment or during your travels. Our nurse recruiters are well-versed in travel nursing jobs and travel nursing job tips. Contact one of our travel nurse recruiters to discover your dream job and start that epic travel nurse road trip today.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

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Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

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