It’s time! You’ve signed your contract, and soon you’ll be off on your travel nursing assignment.
But wait …
Now, you’re wondering what to pack as a travel nurse.
Unlike a week-long vacation, travel nursing requires a multi-week — or even multi-month — commitment. Forgetting to pack certain things can end up being costly and frustrating.
That’s why the travel nursing experts at Trusted Nurse Staffing have created the ultimate list of travel nurse essentials so that you can hit the road feeling confident that you’ll have everything you need to succeed!
Table of Contents
- What to Cross Off Your Travel Nurse Packing List: Typical Items Included in Company-Provided Housing
- The Ultimate Travel Nurse Packing List by Category
- 9 Travel Nurse Packing Tips
- Trusted Nurse Staffing Is Here to Help You Make Sure Your Travel Nurse Packing Checklist Is Complete
What To Cross Off Your Travel Nurse Packing List: Typical Items Included in Company-Provided Housing
The first thing you’ll need to consider before heading off on your travel nurse adventure is what to expect from your company-provided housing. Basic housing will almost always include furniture items, such as:
- A bed and mattress
- A dresser
- A nightstand
- A table and chairs
- A sofa
- End tables
- Appliances; and
- A television
It’s important to speak to your recruiter about anything above and beyond basic furnishings. Depending on the agency, your housing could include linens and housewares as well.
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.
To speak to a Trusted Nurse Staffing agent about what you can expect in your free accommodations, contact us 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 pack items you wouldn’t otherwise consider.
Some household items that you will definitely want to remember to bring along include:
- Personal bath towels
- Your pillow (comfort is key after long shifts!)
- Dishtowels; and
Before you head out, check with your recruiter to find out if the following housewares are included. If they’re not, you’ll want to plan to pack a box with these items:
- Cooking utensils
- Dishware and glasses
- Pots and pans
- Kettle/coffee maker
- Shower curtain and bath mat; and
- A 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.
Since you’re taking this trip primarily to work, the things you’ll need to do your job are some of the most important items you’ll pack. These include:
- Your stethoscope
- A few pairs of scrubs
- Comfortable shoes (any of these will make those 12-hour shifts a little easier)
- Your favorite pens (you know how nurses are about their pens!)
- A lunch bag and water bottle or travel coffee mug
- Your signed travel contract and employee handbook
- Contact info for your nurse manager and recruiter
Be sure to pack these items in a separate, easily accessible space so you’ll be ready to go for your first shift even if you haven’t had much time to unpack.
Electronics are a part of daily life, and quite frankly hard to live without! Here’s a list of must-haves for any travel nurse:
- An 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; and
- An eReader
This list will prepare you with the basics, but you may have other digital devices that would 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 should be prepared, but you obviously 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 of the clothing items we recommend:
- Casual clothing
- Exercise clothing and swimwear
- A few dressy options
- Sleepwear and slippers
- Sweaters and jackets (seasonally); and
- 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.
If you or your dependents (including pets) require prescription medication, 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, then make sure you have called local doctors to find out who may be accepting new patients. Your at-home physician 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 bringing along some items that will make them feel at home is wise.
- A bed or blanket from home
- Their favorite toys
- Their food dish
- Their leash
- The food they usually eat; and
- 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.
- Spa products
- A cozy quilt from home
- Your favorite bottle of wine
- Specialty food items; or
- Whatever you consider a “necessary luxury”
Treating yourself while on the road can make the experience that much richer.
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
Other hobby items can be purchased easily on the road, such as:
- Crafting supplies
- Cards or board games
- Painting and art supplies
- And more
If you’re an outdoorsy type, then 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, then you will want to research the type of equipment needed for this terrain.
If you’re headed to sunny Florida and are dying to try some ocean sports, then you should consider wetsuits or rash guards.
If the great outdoors is what keeps you sane on your days off, then 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; and
- Your 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 things.
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.
9 Travel Nurse Packing Tips
#1: Before You Start Packing, Ask Questions About What’s Included With Your Accommodations
Be sure to check with the point person for the place you’re staying to make sure you don’t bring things that are already provided for you. Some places will be very bare bones, requiring you to pack more necessities, while others — especially if you’re staying at a vacation rental — could have a full kitchen including even spices and cooking oils.
Besides what household items are included, other specifics you may want to know are:
- Is there a microwave?
- If you need to pack your own bedding, what size is the bed?
- Is there a smart TV that will allow you to sign in to your favorite services?
- Does the place you’re staying have amenities like a gym, pool, or tennis court?
The answers to these questions can affect at least some of what you put on your travel nurse packing list.
#2: Do Research on Your Destination’s Climate
Even the shortest travel nursing assignments can span two seasons, so preparing for any possible weather is important.
For example, spring 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.
#3: Have a Minimalist Mindset
While you want to be comfortable and well-stocked on your travel nursing assignment, you don’t need to bring every single thing you have access to at home on a daily basis.
Try to mostly stick to the basics so packing and unpacking your car and luggage every 13 weeks or so doesn’t seem like such a chore. If you have worked other travel nursing contracts, think about things you didn’t use at all on those trips and leave them behind this time.
#4: Bring Items That Help You Feel at Home
While you should embrace minimalism for these trips, you will want some of the comforts of home. Whether you’re gone for 8 weeks or a year, bringing along a few personal items can help stave off feelings of homesickness.
Consider items such as:
- Photos of family and friends (a digital frame is a real space saver!)
- Scented candles
- Mementos; or
- Fridge magnets
#5: Be Realistic About What You Should Take
Think about how long you’ll be at your next travel nursing assignment. The typical contract is 13 weeks. You’ll probably be working full-time, plus you may want to pick up overtime or per diem shifts to make some extra cash while you’re there.
You’ll also want to travel and explore the area. So how much time will you really have at your temporary home to practice the harp or make slow cooker meals?
Don’t get us wrong — if you consider these items necessities, then take them if you have room. But if there’s something you don’t use very often when you’re at home, you can safely leave it off your travel nurse packing list.
#6: Remember That You Can Always Buy or Rent Things You Need While You’re There
If you get to your travel destination and discover you’ve forgotten something or you thought you’d have access to items that aren’t there, it’s not a huge deal. You can always make a quick Target run, or Amazon may be able to deliver necessities to your door within hours.
Many pro travel nurses like to pick up basic items at a thrift store when they get to town, then drop them back off before leaving. This is a great way to get what you need on the cheap without having to take up valuable space needed for other travel nurse essentials.
If you’re traveling to an area where you’ll need skis, a surfboard, or other large gear, you may want to rent those when you need them instead of letting them take up the entire backseat of your car.
#7: 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 bag, 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 finding them when you get there vs. bringing goods from home.
Either way, having a …
- Travel nurse packing list
- A to-do list; and
- A “what to buy” list
… will make life easier when on the road!
#8: Utilize Packing Hacks
These days, there’s a YouTube video for pretty much everything. From minimalist packing to how to fit everything you need into a carry-on bag to how to use packing cubes, these videos will have you traveling like a pro.
Many tech-savvy travel nurses also enjoy using packing apps to help them make lists, plan ahead, and more.
#9: Don’t Procrastinate!
It may seem like you have plenty of time to get everything together before your next assignment, but just be sure you don’t wait until the last minute to begin planning, making lists, and packing.
Procrastination not only gives you less time to get the job done, but it can also cause you to panic and forget necessary items. Be efficient with your time and don’t forget to use your travel nurse packing list!
Trusted Nurse Staffing Is Here To Help You Make Sure Your Travel Nurse Packing Checklist Is Complete
Packing for your travel nursing assignments 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 trip, you’ll have the opportunity to reevaluate your needs while away, making it easier to pack for the next adventure.
The recruiters at Trusted Nurse Staffing are here to help! We work with our nurses to ensure they feel completely comfortable in their new surroundings.
In addition to our many benefits, we offer free furnished accommodations. Or you can choose a housing stipend and find your own home-away-from-home. In either case, be sure to get an inventory list of what is provided in the home before you arrive.
For more information about travel nursing with Trusted Nurse Staffing, get the Pronto app and pick your perfect post from thousands of available jobs. With its simple and intuitive design, Pronto makes it easy to find great opportunities right when you need them and empowers you to take control of your career.
If you’re a veteran travel nurse, feel free to navigate Pronto on your own. If you’re new to the scene, one of our recruiters will be happy to help you find jobs and housing accommodations.
Contact us today to get started.