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What To Pack For Your First Travel Nurse Job

Jan 19, 2021
Portia Wofford, LPN

You landed your first travel nurse job! Now that the background checks, credentialing, and interviews are done, it's time to pack up your life for four to thirteen weeks. You don't want to overpack, but you want to make sure you take the essentials. 

Before you go on your first assignment, here is a checklist of essentials you don't want to leave home without!

Deciding What to Pack When Traveling

You should probably cut down on what you bring with you. Before you decide what to take, consider how you're getting to your assignment. Are you driving? Flying? Taking a bus or train? Your packing could depend on your mode of transportation. 

Vacuum-seal bags, packing cubes, and plastic storage bins or totes are great for packing but can also double as storage containers when you arrive at your new place.

Make a list of all the items you cannot live without for the length of your assignment. Then, have another look at that list and see what you can leave behind. 

Consider your housing arrangements. Is it furnished? What amenities are included? Will you have a roommate? Check online and search for nearby grocery stores, supermarkets, or department stores to see what you can pick up when you get to your new destination.

Once you've arrived and unpacked, you can figure out what else you need.

woman packing her car travel nursing what to pack on your first assignment

Important Documents

Take all important documents with you. Important documents are those that help identify or insure you, such as:

  • Drivers license
  • Passport
  • Social security card
  • Proof of car insurance 
  • Proof of health insurance 
  • Nursing license or nursing credentials

Keep digital copies, in password-protected cloud storage, in case you need them for any reason.

First Aid Kit and Prescription Medications

Don't leave home without your medication. Be sure you have refills before you get on the road. A first aid kit is also a smart idea. You can find ready-made first aid kits at your local pharmacy or department store.

Start with the basics:

  • Band-aids
  • Wound or cleaning solution
  • Absorbent dressings
  • Sterile gauze
  • Tweezers
  • Emergency blankets
  • OTC meds like Tylenol or Ibuprofen

The Red Cross has a first aid kit list.

Appropriate Clothing

What color uniform do you need? How's the weather? Does the temperature drastically change at night?

Depending on the time of year, at a minimum, you should pack:

  • A coat (fall and winter)
  • A light jacket for chilly days and nights
  • A lab coat or jacket for a cold unit
  • Appropriately colored scrubs
  • Jeans
  • T-shirts
  • Two pairs of comfortable, durable sneakers
  • Workout gear
  • Loungewear
  • Shorts and a comfortable pair of sandals (spring and summer)
  • Houseshoes or slippers
  • Two or three versatile outfits that you dress up or down

Personal or Sentimental Items

Being away from home can cause homesickness. Bring nostalgic items or those that you can't live without, such as:

  • Your favorite pillow
  • Pictures of loved ones
  • A blanket or throw
  • Scented candles
  • Small items that remind you of home
  • Your Keurig or favorite coffee or tea maker 

Electronics and Entertainment

You'll be away from home for some time. When you're not at work, you'll need something to do to keep you entertained or pass the time. 

Don't forget to pack:

  • Books
  • Cell phone
  • Laptop
  • Extra charging devices
  • Batteries
  • Camera
  • Extension cords 
  • Power strips
  • Surge protectors
  • Firestick or other streaming devices
  • Tablet or Kindle

Emergency Phone Numbers

Keep emergency phone numbers in two places — a digital copy and a written copy. It should be easily accessible so that it won't be a hassle if you or someone else needs to find these numbers. Consider storing them in a notebook and on Cloud storage. 

Here are some numbers you should have:

  • Your physician
  • Emergency contact
  • Agency recruiter
  • Family members

Toiletries and Household Items

Depending on your housing arrangements, consider bringing essential household items and toiletries, such as:

  • Hand soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Body wash
  • Shampoo
  • Toothbrush
  • Hair dryer or straightener
  • Comb and brush
  • Makeup kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels and washcloths
  • Cooking and eating utensils

Depending on your budget, it may be easier to purchase these items when you arrive at your destination (this is true for the other packing categories, too).

Bedding

Every housing arrangement may differ. You may go from a hotel to an Airbnb, an apartment, or even stay with friends or family. It's a good idea to pack bedding such as linens and a blanket or comforter. 

Work Items 

Do not leave home unprepared for work. Remember to bring your stethoscope, pens, comfortable shoes, a watch, and any other essentials you'll need to competently and adequately do your job

Credit and Debit Cards 

If available, try to bring debit cards and credit cards with available limits. You never know when you might be in an emergency and need access to cash or credit fast. 

Be sure to let your bank know that you'll be traveling for an extended time so that your account doesn't get flagged for fraudulent activity. Be responsible and don't cause yourself unnecessary debt.

So, remember to pack these items for your next assignment and say hello to a seamless transition!

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