A reader recently asked how one finds their way around when taking a travel nursing assignment in an unfamiliar city. When I first started traveling, this would require a trip to the library or bookstore, and when available, the purchase of a street guide for the city in which I would be working. However, I’m happy to say that the days of easy Internet access and affordable GPS units have streamlined this process.
When you accept an assignment, it is usually in a place where you want to see the sites and experience what the area has to offer. This will often lead a person to study up on the location and map out the attractions they want to see. However, you must also remember to map out the places that will be a necessity on your assignment, like the grocery store. If you plan ahead, you’ll know right where to find one. Looking up directions to grocery stores, gas stations, hair or tanning salons, and electronic or houseware stores before you arrive can help you familiarize yourself with the city of your new assignment.
Remember to include not only the places that you think you will need, but also the places that you hopefully will not need such as auto repair shops, local insurance agents, doctors, or emergent care centers.
To find detailed directions to just about anything, the Internet will probably be your biggest asset. In addition to mapping out routes to the places you will need, use a site like Google Maps to take a peak at an overview of the city. This will help you to see how the city is laid out and if there are areas that may be tricky to navigate.
Most of these functions can also be done on a GPS unit. You can now find GPS units for under $100 and for the frequent traveler, they are invaluable. Just be sure to update the maps in your unit about every six months or at least every year. If you do not have GPS, you can always purchase a street guide to the city once you arrive (usually available at any gas station convenience store).
Whether you use today’s modern technology (Internet and GPS), or still prefer to “kick it ol’ school” (maps and city guides), a little pre-assignment planning can certainly remove one of the stressors of starting a new travel nursing assignment.