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Travel nursing is a rewarding and unique career path with plenty of detours along the way. Travel nurses are often put in situations that require outside-of-the-box packing habits for their varied assignments. It can be stressful, at times, especially when it’s your first assignment or first time visiting a new destination.
When you’re moving so frequently, having a list and some handy tips and tricks ready can save you time, headaches, and frustration. Luckily, we have provided you with a comprehensive list to prepare you for your travels so you can spend less time worrying about packing your bags and more time appreciating the journey.
Ready to gear up and get going? Check out these 5 tips and tricks to make the most out of your suitcase, and nursing experience!
- When & Where
With proper planning and preparation, there is no reason you should get caught in unexpected weather. Nothing is worse than packing for warm weather, only for Northern California to have its coldest and wettest spring on recorded.
You may need to pack a range of clothes for different temperatures, especially in the spring or fall when weather can be inconsistent. To avoid being underprepared or overdressed, we recommend you check the weather patterns for your assignment and duration of stay.
We all have different lifestyles and daily habits. Some travelers will prioritize cooking equipment like a handy crock pot; while others will prioritize activities they can enjoy in a certain location. You can’t bring it all, so you’ll have to make decisions based on your priorities during your assignment.
While your travel nursing assignment isn’t a short trip, you don’t need to pack like you’re never returning home. Before packing anything, think about what items are necessary and what can be left behind. This is a good place to recognize that important documents like your driver’s and nursing license, social security card, and birth certificate are probably more important than the DVD copy of Survivor, season three.
A great technique to whittle down the number of items you’re bringing is to make a list of things you use and activities you do over a one to two-week period. We’re all pretty much creatures of habit, so this list should encompass the vast majority of what you’ll need to maintain your habits and lifestyle while on assignment.
In terms of organizing your bags, your car, or your future-temporary home, the tricks available to travel nurses seem to be endless. An electronic accessory organizer and toiletry bag will help keep your essentials organized and easily accessible. A set of Compression Packing Cubes will come in handy as you try to stuff bulky jackets and sweaters into your carry-on or checked bag – just be sure to confirm your airline’s luggage size and weight restrictions before you go!
While usually associated with fish and cold beer, Tackle Boxes receive rave reviews on the effectiveness and usefulness of their storage capacity. It may sound gimmicky, but tackle boxes make excellent tools for packing away small but crucial items.
- Flexibility & Adaptability
Each location and assignment will come with its perks and challenges, and we ask that you keep an open mind and a level of flexibility in your approach. While a small-town assignment has a slower-paced life and friendly people, it may lack the availability of your favorite late-night snack or specific cosmetics.
As you develop your packing list, there is a strong chance that you’ll notice it becoming large, perhaps too large for your liking. One option to reduce the size of your list is to consider purchasing various items at second-hand stores, thrift stores, and discount variety stores when you arrive at your destination instead of packing them. At the end of each assignment, you can determine whether the items get packed up for the next assignment or are donated to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army.
- Consider Technology
There’s an app for that! Including packing! Packing apps conveniently save your packing lists and create lists for different situations and destinations. What you need for a 2-week travel assignment will vary from what you need for an 8-week assignment, and these lists can help you track those differences.
If you don’t want to download yet another app, there are a few websites that will generate packing lists for you:
Enter a destination, weather conditions, duration of stay, accommodations, and other details, and these sites will develop a list based on that criteria.
The work of a travel nurse is stressful enough, without the added pressure of packing for each assignment. Become an expert packer in no time by taking advantage of these useful tips and tricks.