Ask a Travel Nurse: I’ve accepted a travel nursing assignment. Now what do I take with me?

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If you are looking for a minimalist answer, I might not be the one to ask. On my current assignment, I loaded my full-sized truck with everything that would fit and then, just for good measure, added a 6×10 enclosed trailer full of stuff (including my motorcycle). You certainly want to take everything you think you will need, but I doubt that everyone will require as many toys as I do.

When first deciding what to take with you, try to anticipate how long you will be there. If you start an assignment in Northern California in the summer, you might get away with shorts and tee shirts; however, if you extend into the fall/winter, you will very likely require jeans and sweaters and possibly cold weather attire. The length of your stay can also affect the toys you might take. For example, if your assignment in Colorado starts in late spring, you might pack your tent and all your hiking gear. However, if you extend your assignment into the fall or winter, you might want to also pack your skis as well.

Once you have accounted for the time you might spend in any given location, consider where you will be staying. If you are staying with a friend or relatives, you might not need a lot. However, if you will be moving into an apartment, you need to consider even the smallest things like shower curtain rings.

When you first confirm your assignment, start making a list. Keep it somewhere handy so that you can add to it as you think of things. On your first few assignments, you will undoubtedly take too much. Eventually you will learn what things you cannot do without and what things you can leave behind to allow a little extra space in your car (to fit all the crap that you inevitably acquire while on assignment).

After your first few assignments you will fine tune your list and hopefully have one less concern when it comes time to pack up again.

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About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

3 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: I’ve accepted a travel nursing assignment. Now what do I take with me?"

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  1. Becky says:

    One great online resource you should check out for travel nurse advice is the Cirrus Medical LinkedIn Group (name: The Traveling Nurse). The Traveling Nurse posts a variety of job opportunities in tons of U.S. cities and provides members with information on the most recent trends in the nursing field. Join today!

  2. Becky says:

    One great online resource you should check out for travel nurse advice is the Cirrus Medical LinkedIn Group (name: The Traveling Nurse). The Traveling Nurse posts a variety of job opportunities in tons of U.S. cities and provides members with information on the most recent trends in the nursing field. Join today at http://bit.ly/8Hf2o

  3. Carol says:

    I have been traveling for 2 years now and I have found using large plastic storage tubs with lids is great for the stuff I know for sure I want. I have one for kitchen stuff, one for clothing and 2 small ones for bathroom, (they fit under the sink easier). The boxes pack well (I have a CR-V) and they are color coded.

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