Travel Nurse Housing: How to Make a Comfy Home Away from Home
Even the boldest adventurer, or the wandering-est wanderer can feel homesick or nostalgic for familiar comforts, especially this time of year. Travel nurses whether seasoned or new to the niche (not so niche anymore, is it though?) may struggle more these next two months than at any other time of the year. Due to the fact that we know our traveling clinicians struggle more this time of year, we’ve put together a list of tips to help your temporary housing away from home, feel more like your home. Without further ado, here are our travel nurse tips!
When it comes to packing for your travel assignment, there are of course limits on what you can bring. Furniture is generally impractical, particularly since the rise of popularity and availability of fully furnished beautiful homes and apartments on Airbnb. Most of us have hundreds if not thousands of pictures stored away on our phones (and Facebook or Instagram accounts), however, when was the last time you actually printed even a few of them?
Ask yourself the infamous Marie Kondo question, what brings you joy? Look for a few knick-knacks in your home that will bring you cherished memories or feelings of comfort and tuck those away into your suitcase.
Head over to the photo print kiosk, and print out some of your favorite photos of family and/or friends to put up around your housing. Consider picture frames that are plastic or lightweight and therefore easily added to your suitcase. We recommend that you remove the glass pane from the frames. Put up pictures on the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, and the bedside table. Place knick-knacks on top of the kitchen cabinets, a shelf in the living room or the coffee table. These small touches will bring a familiarity to the stranger’s home in which you are staying.
It’s rather unlikely that you’ll have the space in your suitcases to bring all of your bedding. Nevertheless, our sleep is a necessary component of physical and mental well-being. Do you have favorite sheets? Or a favorite pillow? Or maybe a throw rug for snuggling on the sofa?
Nothing makes one feel more like an outsider than not knowing where anything is. Take a few days to explore your neighborhood. Buy a day pass for the public transportation and ride the lines, and on another day, sign up for a walking tour. Locate the nearest pharmacy, drugstore, grocery store, and movie theater. Ask your housing host for a list of restaurants and local hangouts. Are there antique stores? Are there thrift store shops or Saturday neighborhood garage sales? Are there popular shopping malls with big names and trendy cafes? What about community events and festivals? Is there a group that does yoga in the park? Or a dance studio that offers aerobics or Zumba classes?
Most humans have strong associations to smells. Consider every time you walk into someone else’s home you notice how it smells, as opposed to when you walk into your own home. Buy some scented candles to light for the hours you’re at your new home, and consider some oil diffusers as well that don’t require flame or electricity to have a comforting scent permeate the space. Alternatively, invest in a few plug-in air fresheners that are easy to refill with a variety of scents and small enough to pack and take with you.
This one requires more planning, you’ll need to be sure your temporary housing allows pets for one, and then follow requirements with whatever airline you may be flying with. Still, having your pet with you is a no-brainer if they’re of a character to settle into new spaces easily. About a third of traveling clinicians do this, so it’s not that unusual. Be warned however that often landlords will require a separate pet deposit, and to bring your pet on the plane typically involves additional fees as well.
If your travel plans keep you on the ground instead of a plane, consider taking one of your plants. Furthermore, if you don’t have any plants, spend a sweet little Saturday morning at the local nursery and find one. It isn’t a requirement to have a green thumb to keep a plant alive, but there are some plants that are lower maintenance than others. A gardener at the nursery should be able to give you a recommendation, nevertheless we suggest the hardy yet beautiful philodendron, succulents, umbrella tree, Chinese evergreen, or if you’re really nervous, a cactus.
We’ve already discussed the importance of learning the city and finding the nearest grocery store, but it must be said that food can be of great comfort. It’s easy to find yourself caught up visiting restaurants and taking advantage of the food delivery apps when we’re tired after a long shift. Yet, taking the time to cook a favorite meal can do wonders for your heart (as well as your tummy). FaceTime your friend or your mom while you ask for tips on cooking their recipe, make it about connection as much as it is about nourishment.
Avoid the mistake of living out of your suitcase and digging for things every time you need to change clothes. Your first day in your new spot, take a few hours to empty your suitcases and put them away in the closet or under the bed. Unpack and move into your housing, all the way.
Are you one of those people that has hundreds of friends on social media that you rarely see? Reach out to your network and find out who has family or friends in the city where you are staying! Meeting up with a friendly, even if unfamiliar, face can set a welcoming tone for your next eight to 13 weeks. Maybe someone you know has an old college friend, or sister, or brother in the city. They might not meet you more than once, but could give you some insight to your temporary hometown.
We hope even one of these tips can make a difference for your travel career. Travel nurses and clinicians are a vital part of the medical industry, and the happier you are with your lifestyle the better for all. At Elite Specialty Staffing, we offer generous housing subsidies to all of our travel healthcare clinicians. Learn more on our benefits page.