Travel nurses are constantly jetting off to new places. In fact, this is one of the draws for many nurses who decide to make a career as a travel nurse. Whether you are traveling to a new location or a place that you have been before, and whether you are a first-time travel nurse or a seasoned vet, there are certain things you will want to bring with you to every travel nursing assignment.
I have put together a list of ten things every travel nurse should bring with them during an assignment based on my own personal experience as a travel nurse. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, especially if you are a first-time travel nurse, so this page can be used as your guide so that you don’t forget any of these things to bring with you on a travel nursing assignment.
1. Important Documents
This item is the most essential because important documents are not easily replaced. Therefore, perhaps the most important piece of travel nursing advice we can give you is to protect and store your important documents. Gather these and store them securely so that you never find yourself in a situation where you must pay someone to have these immediately shipped to you or replaced.
You’ll need your:
- driver’s license
- social security card
- car insurance
- travel documents
- insurance policy
- roadside assistance agreement
It’s also a good idea to keep digital copies on your laptop or phone, just in case you are asked to provide them. You can also sign up on Nursa, which is a PRN nursing app, and upload and store all of your documents securely in your digital portfolio.
Also, make sure to bring:
- the contact information for your staffing company and recruiter
- address and phone number of your new workplace
- details of your temporary lodging
Finally, double-check that you have your debit and credit cards, as well as any customer loyalty cards that can earn you points in nationwide stores.
2. First-aid kit and prescription medications
It’s important to consider your own health during your travel nursing assignment. If you would like to learn more about this subject, you can read our previous blog post about decompressing and relaxing on your days off.
Part of taking care of yourself includes planning for anything. It’s important to bring a first-aid kit and all the prescription medications you are going to need (if possible) during your travel nursing assignment. Most doctors will work with you to help you get your prescriptions in advance for three months so that you do not have to fool with finding a new pharmacy and making sure they have your refills in the system while you are on assignment. The last thing you need is more stress.
Make sure to pack a fully stocked first-aid kit that includes:
- band-aids, bandages, compress bandages, and gauze
- cold compress
- breathing barrier
- a thermal blanket
Here is a basic list of toiletries that you can either pack and bring with you or buy once you make it to your destination of your travel nursing assignment. Pack enough to last a few days, which buys you some time to get settled in at the new location. Securely pack things like lotions, mouthwash, and shampoo so that they do not spill during travel.
Make sure to bring all the toiletries you need, such as:
- hand soap
- shower gel
- shampoo and conditioner
- body lotion and skin creams
- toothbrush & toothpaste
- floss & mouthwash
- perfume and/or aftershave
- razors and shaving cream
- hairbrush and comb
- contact lens solution
- nail file
- toilet pape
Scrubs come first! You will need to bring scrubs that are in line with the dress requirements at your new workplace. You can also call the facility you will be working ahead of time and find out if they maintain a high or low indoor temperature, in order to determine which uniforms to bring.
Besides just nursing uniforms, you’ll also need:
- casual clothes
- some formal evening wear
- sports clothing
Work shoes are essential. Be sure you pack high-quality ones that help you to be on your feet many hours a day. Don’t forget to pack sneakers and sandals to match your casual and formal attire. Of course, bring plenty of underwear and socks, and pack for the weather at your destination. It’s also a good idea to bring an umbrella.
5. Household items
If your new place only has furniture, you’ll need to bring a lot of items, including:
- cooking utensils
- plates & bowls
- mugs & glasses
- dish towels
- bath towels
- sheets & blankets
- pillows and pillowcases
You can buy “bed in a bag” sets that are pretty affordable and you can also find durable and cost-effective dorm dinnerware sets. Bring a flashlight and some extra batteries.
6. Pet supplies
If you’re bringing your cat or dog with you on assignment, you’ll need to prepare accordingly.
Make sure your pet is microchipped, and take a couple of clear photos on your phone so if he gets lost, it will be easier for you to find him.
Attach current ID tags to his collar. Remember to include your full name and phone number if you don’t want to update the address each time you move.
Have his medicines on hand and bring a file (either in paper or on your phone) that contains his health certificates and medical history, as well as the contact details of the vet that last treated him.
Bring his bedding and blanket, as well as his favorite toys. Having something that smells familiar to him will ease the anxiety pets often experience during travel.
7. Personal Items
Being away for one assignment can be a long time. For some travel nurses, they are gone on consecutive assignments and spend a lot of time away from their “permanent” homes. It is easy to become homesick working as a travel nurse. It’s good to bring something with you, like a photo album, that can make you feel more connected, even when you are far away. it might also bring you a sense of home to bring with you a certain item of decor or even a stuffed animal or a certain pillow.
Travel nurses often experience long drives or evenings home alone. During those times, you are going to want your favorite source of entertainment with you. Fill your device with plenty of songs to keep you entertained while commuting to work or to the destination in general.
You might also want to have a subscription set up in advance to your favorite streaming sites to have entertainment during your days off work or after a long travel nursing shift.
It’s 2020 and most of us have a plethora of electronic devices that we use on a daily basis.
Tablets. Phones. Laptops. Music players. Cameras. The list goes on. Be sure that you take inventory and pack all of the electronics you plan to use during the travel nursing assignment. Be sure that you not only pack the device but their respected chargers. Speaking of chargers, it’s a good idea to have a couple of back up ones on hand just in case you run into any problems on the road.
10. Emergency contact numbers
No one likes to think about “worst-case” scenarios, but it’s better to plan ahead just in case. Sometimes bad things happen, and it can certainly help to be prepared. Bring all your emergency contact numbers with you to your travel nursing assignment.
You should have all your loved ones, family members, doctor, recruiter, and vet written down in a separate secured notebook that is not your phone. While you should have these numbers on your phone as well, this should not be our only place.
Are you ready to look for travel nursing assignments? We want to hear from you. Give us a call today at 208-378-1338.