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Top 10 Items to Pack as a Travel Nurse

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Health Carousel Travel Nursing
May 2, 2022
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Are you packing for your first travel nursing assignment and feel unsure of what to bring? Or maybe this is a new assignment and last time you forgot a few items. Below are the top 10 recommended essentials to pack on your next travel nursing assignment. 

Considerations Before Packing

There are several important things to consider before beginning your packing journey. First, research the climate and weather of your anticipated destination. For example, the weather in Colorado during the summer versus winter can be drastically different. Consider bringing weather appropriate items in case the weather has an out-of-season day that would require a coat in a warm climate or a bathing suit for an indoor pool in a chilly location.

Are you staying in a hotel, short-term rental, or with family? Depending on which place you are living, determine if there is a kitchen, microwave, and what other amenities the facility has to offer. When deciding what to bring, consider your hobbies and activities to do for your days off. If you want to go to a nearby beach make sure to bring your swimsuit and sunscreen. 

How long is your travel nursing assignment? If your contract is for one month, try not to overpack and ask yourself if you are going to need each item.

Top 10 Items to Pack

1.  Work Items

Needless to say, since you are working as a travel nurse it is crucial to include work items on your packing list. This can consist of scrubs, shoes, compression socks, etc. Make sure to bring non-clothing essentials as well, such as your stethoscope, pens, and a watch. Also, some hospitals do not provide lockers for travel nurses so bring a carrying case or backpack for work.

2. Personal Items

It is imperative to consider your time outside of work. Some personal items to include are casual clothing, loungewear, workout gear, and undergarments. Make certain to bring a dressier and business casual outfit. Sometimes dressier clothing is needed for work orientation or a surprise upscale dinner. 

3. Important Documents/Paperwork

Most of the time your important paperwork and documents have been completed ahead of time. It is important to still bring these along just in case they are needed. Sometimes you may need them to receive a hospital identification badge or a car rental. Some documents to consider bringing are your passport, driver’s license, and nursing certifications.

4. Toiletries

Depending on where and how you are traveling, essential toiletries can vary. For example, if you are flying to your destination you may want to consider not packing those industrial size shampoo bottles. If you have a special hair product that is hard to find, pack it in case it is not available at your new location. Some important toiletries that travel nurses often forget besides the essentials are sunscreen, cosmetics, contact lens solution, and contact lens cases. 

5. Electronics and Entertainment

Think about the travel to and from your travel nursing assignment. What types of entertainment will you need for that long four-hour layover at the airport? Consider bringing headphones, a cell phone, chargers, or magazines. What is your after-work ritual to unwind? Include items that support relaxing after work such as new books if you like to read or your tablet to play your favorite games. 

6. Medications/First Aid

Travel nurses love to come prepared when it comes to first aid. So make sure to pack your first aid essentials such as a thermometer, wound care bandages, and antibiotic ointment. Pack prescription medications and check if you can get refills before you leave to prevent running out of your prescriptions. Over-the-counter medications are important too, like ibuprofen or Tylenol. You never know when you might need to use them. 

7. Household Items

Depending on where you are staying during your travel nursing assignment determines what household items you might need. If the hotel has a small kitchen, ask if they provide cookware, dishes, and utensils. In addition, some travel nurses like to bring a pillow or blankets from home.

8. Outdoor Living Items

What kind of activities are you interested in outside of work? If you are an avid skier who is traveling to Washington during the winter, you may want to pack your snow gear and skis. If you are flying to your travel nursing assignment and have large gear, consider shipping the items ahead of time, or decide if it is worth driving instead.  

9.  “Comforts of Home” 

Everyone gets homesick at one time or another. So think about bringing something that reminds you of home. Some suggestions are photographs, fridge magnets, or your favorite water bottle.

10. Pet Supplies

Are you bringing your pet along with you to your next travel nursing assignment? Make certain to include their essentials on your packing list. Food, collars, leashes, toys, vet records, and medications are essential. 

Every travel nurse's packing list will look different each time they take a new assignment. Making a checklist before you begin packing is an easy way to stay organized and reduces the likelihood of forgetting something. Happy travel nurse packing!


Bio

Amanda Marten NP-C, MSN has been a certified nurse practitioner for over three years. With eight years of nursing experience, she has worked in a variety of specialties including urgent care, travel nursing, post-surgical, and intensive care.

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