The time has come. After finding an assignment and signing your contract, there’s just one thing left to do: pack.
You’re excited to start this new journey, but you always find yourself packing at the last minute. And when you do manage to avoid procrastinating, without fail you discover you packed too much.
Traveling to a new state for work is an adventure you need to be adequately prepared for, but not so over-prepared that your luggage is bursting its seams.
So how do you find the fine line between an underprepared, last-minute-packed traveler and an eager, over-encumbered pack rat?
There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to deciding what you should bring along while working as a traveling nurse. But fret, not. In this article, we discuss what items you’ll want to include on your travel nurse packing list.
Table of Contents
- What’s the Deal With Overpacking?
- What To Cross Off Your Travel Nurse Packing List: Typical Items Included in Company-Provided Housing
- The Ultimate Travel Nurse Packing List by Category
- 4 Travel Nurse Packing Tips
- Trusted Nurse Staffing Is Here To Help Make Sure Your Travel Nurse Packing Checklist Is Complete
What’s the Deal With Overpacking?
Traveling is fun — but certain parts of the journey just aren’t.
One study, conducted by OnePoll and Trunk Club, found that 65% of Americans say packing is one of the biggest challenges of traveling. Packing is a personal act and for some, this pressure can be overwhelming.
To mitigate this, people sometimes feel the need to overpack. The same study by Trunk Club also found that 62% of surveyors admit to overpacking.
As a traveling nurse, you may feel the need to bring everything you could possibly need to help you find your comfort zone in a new place. While it can never hurt to be over-prepared, packing too much might hinder you in your journey and cause additional stress.
What To Cross Off Your Travel Nurse Packing List: Typical Items Included in Company-Provided Housing
The first thing to consider before heading off on your travel nurse adventure is what to expect from your housing situation. Some traveling nurses find it easier to stay at an extended-stay hotel while working shorter contracts. Others prefer to work with their traveling nurse agency to secure housing.
Whether you are staying at a hotel or taking advantage of the company-provided housing option, both typically include furniture items, such as:
- Bed and mattress
- Table and chairs
- End tables
It’s important to speak to your recruiter about anything above and beyond basic furnishings. Depending on the agency, certain agency-associated housing options could also include linens and housewares.
Other questions you may want to ask your recruiter include:
- Is a microwave included?
- Are there any amenities (pool, tennis court, etc.) nearby or provided by the complex?
- What size is the bed (to discern what bedding you should bring)?
At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we make it our mission to provide the best possible housing for our nurses. We believe in your comfort, so our company-provided housing is among the most well-equipped in the industry.
Our company was founded by veteran traveling healthcare professionals for traveling healthcare professionals. Whether you’ve been around the block or are just starting out, we will help you navigate housing options and answer any housing-related questions you may have.
Pronto makes it even easier for our traveling nurses to find and manage assignments and housing options for all traveling nurses — green or seasoned. Begin your adventure by searching for travel nursing jobs on Pronto today.
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Packing List by Category
Who doesn’t love a good list?
Nurses, by nature, are very organized people — we get it! That’s why we want to ensure you have everything you need for your assignment.
As you skim through this list, highlight the items you know you’ll want to have, but also take a walk around your home. As you go from room to room, imagine what items you don’t want to live without for the length of your assignment.
If you’ve decided to take back-to-back assignments, remember that you’ll be gone for quite some time, and you may want to bring items you wouldn’t otherwise consider.
Also, don’t forget to check out our Pronto job search to look for your next travel nursing assignment. With Pronto, your next big adventure is only a few clicks away.
Some travel nurse household essentials that you will want to remember to bring along include:
- Personal bath towels
- Your pillow (comfort is key after long shifts!)
Before you head out, check with your recruiter to find out if the following housewares are included. If they’re not, plan to pack a box with these items:
- Cooking utensils
- Dishware and glasses
- Pots and pans
- Kettle and/or coffee maker
- Shower curtain and bathmat
- Small vacuum
Remember when traveling alone, you don’t need to bring more than what’s needed for a single person — usually no more than 2-3 place settings to account for dirty dishes and occasional guests.
If you plan to stay longer, you can always hit up a local Target or Walmart for some additional items to entertain with.
Unless you’re staying at an extended-stay hotel, you’ll likely be expected to clean your housing unit during your stay. Most housing options will have larger cleaning equipment (like a vacuum, broom, and mop) but you should always check with the host or your travel agency.
You may be expected to bring smaller cleaning supplies like:
- Paper towels
- Trash bags
- Disinfectant wipes/spray
- Bathroom cleaner/toilet bowl cleaner
If you’re driving to your assignment, consider adding cleaning supplies to your travel nurse packing list. They’re small enough to fit in without sacrificing valuable space, and there’ll be fewer things you’ll need to buy during your “just settling in” grocery trip. However, if you are flying, you may want to wait to buy cleaning supplies once you land.
Electronics are a part of daily life and are hard to live without. Here’s a list of must-haves for any travel nurse:
- Alarm clock
- Batteries and electronics chargers
- Laptop or tablet
- A good watch
- Wi-Fi router (if one is not included)
- Bluetooth speaker or a small stereo
This list will prepare you with the basics, but you may have other digital devices that will make your trip more meaningful, such as an underwater camera or a GoPro.
If ever there was a time to implement a capsule wardrobe, this could be it! You’ll be engaging in various activities, so you’ll want to be prepared, but you won’t be able to take your entire wardrobe.
First things first. Where are you going? What special outings do you have planned?
Consider your daily life, as well as any excursions and explorations you plan to do, and pack accordingly.
Here are some clothing items we recommend:
- Facility uniforms (if not provided)
- Casual clothing
- Exercise clothing and swimwear
- Dressy clothing
- Sleepwear and slippers
- Sweaters and jackets (seasonally)
- 3–4 pairs of shoes
Before your assignment, it’s a good idea to find out what local clothing retailers are in your area, just in case something comes up, and you need a fresh new outfit or “souvenir.”
As a nurse, you understand the importance of having a backup plan regarding chronic medication. Should your prescription run out or become lost, you may need to quickly procure a new one.
If you or your dependents (including pets) require prescription medications, it’s not only important to bring them along, but also to have refill prescriptions called into the local pharmacy in your assigned city.
If you plan to take a longer assignment, it’s a good idea to ensure you have called local physicians to find out who may be accepting new patients. Your at-home practitioner may be able to make a referral.
Supplies for Your Pet
Planning on bringing your fur baby? Just like you, your pet will be adjusting to their new surroundings, so bring along some items that will make them feel at home.
- A bed or blanket from home
- Toys they love
- Their food dish
- Their leash
- The food they usually eat
- Some treats for the road
Your pet will be feeling displaced, and possibly stressed from the flight or road trip, so whatever you can do to make them feel at home will be beneficial to you both.
Luxury is in the eye of the beholder. That being said, luxury items can be anything that makes you feel ultra-comfortable.
- Home spa products
- Your favorite blanket for the couch
- Specialty food items
- Whatever you consider to be luxurious
Treating yourself while on the road can make the experience that much richer and the trip a little more bearable.
When on the road, travel nurses may find themselves getting lonely. Bringing along hobby items to keep yourself entertained can make a huge difference in how you enjoy your time off.
Pared down, almost any hobby can be brought along on your assignment, including:
- Camping gear
- Sporting equipment
- Musical instruments
Some tools of your craft can be purchased easily on the road, such as:
- Crafting supplies
- Cards or board games
- Painting and art supplies
To avoid overpacking, you may want to bring the essentials of your hobbies. For example, instead of taking your entire camping arsenal, just pack your sleeping bag and hiking shoes, but rent a tent and other supplies. Or bring your crochet hooks, but not your 15 skeins of unused yarn.
If you’re an outdoorsy type, packing for the elements will come naturally to you. But, if not, it’s important to consider that your new location may require special gear.
For example, if you’re moving to Colorado and have never hiked the mountains before, you will want to research the type of gear needed for this terrain.
If you’re headed to sunny Florida and are dying to try some ocean sports, consider wetsuits or rash guards.
If the great outdoors is what keeps you sane on your days off, outdoor gear is an especially important consideration for you.
Your standard identification, such as your driver’s license, will be necessary for travel, but you’ll also want to remember to bring:
- Digital or physical copies of your nursing license
- Any other professional certifications that pertain to your position
- Immunization records
- Emergency contact list
Being a nurse, this may seem like a no-brainer! But, let’s face it, you already have a lot on your mind, making it easy to forget the obvious.
A basic first-aid kit can be a huge help when the unexpected happens. Being prepared with bandages, gauze, over-the-counter medicines, etc. can be beneficial, especially when living alone.
4 Travel Nurse Packing Tips
#1: Research Your Destination’s Climate
Even the shortest assignments can span two seasons, so preparing for any possible weather is important.
For example, springtime can be cool and wet in Michigan, while summer can get hot and humid. Rubber boots and a raincoat will be necessary, as will planning to dress in layers. And don’t forget the bug spray!
Arizona nights can get quite cool, while the days will feel hot and dry. You’ll need sunscreen for the scorching desert sun!
Quick research on the type of weather to expect can help you prepare for anything.
#2: Bring Items That Help You Feel at Home
Whether you’re gone for 8 weeks or a year, bringing along a few personal items that feel like home can help stave off feelings of homesickness.
To feel more comfortable in your temporary home, consider bringing personal items such as:
- Photos of family and friends
- Scented candles
#3: Get Organized
Getting organized before you go — and when you’re wrapping up — will make the trip that much smoother.
If you’re planning to bring more than a suitcase and carry-on, consider plastic totes that can be labeled and shipped, or added as extra cargo to your flight.
Or, you might consider making a checklist of the things you’ll need for a shorter assignment and weighing out the option of hitting up a Target vs. bringing goods from home.
Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a few household goods that can be donated or packed into your bags when you leave.
Either way, jumping into a new assignment will be easier if you have a:
- Travel nurse packing list
- To-do list
- “What to buy” list
#4: Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
Your travel nursing recruiter and agency are there to help you!
At Trusted Nurse Staffing, no question is too big or too small to ask. We are a travel nurse agency composed of traveling health professionals who have been exactly where you are right now.
While we can’t tell you if you’re packing too many pairs of sunglasses, our 24/7 recruiters are there to help you find out every detail of your housing arrangement and traveling stipend.
Trusted Nurse Staffing Is Here To Help Make Sure Your Travel Nurse Packing Checklist Is Complete
Unless you’re doing back-to-back assignments, packing doesn’t need to be a colossal chore. Remember to pack the essentials, but don’t plan to bring the entire contents of your home.
After your first travel nurse assignment, you’ll have the opportunity to re-evaluate your needs, making it easier to pack for the next adventure.
One thing you won’t need to pack, but do need to remember: Pronto can help you find your dream travel nursing assignment at the touch of a button.
You can even begin looking for a new assignment while preparing to leave for your current one. With thousands of positions and locations to explore, Pronto makes it easy to find your next big adventure.
Add Pronto to your travel nurse packing list and find available assignments today.