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Have you just become a travel nurse and are deciding where to start your first assignment? Did you just accept an assignment and are uncertain what to do next? 

Yes, travel nursing provides unique benefits and is a great way to grow your career, but starting down this path can be overwhelming. 

As a travel nurse, you will:

  • Discover new destinations
  • Meet new people
  • Learn new skills; and 
  • Do what you love 

However, before packing your suitcase, there are some things you need to know before you begin your career as a travel nurse. 

In this article, you will learn more about: 

  • Travel nurse essentials
  • How to start travel nursing
  • Preparing for travel nursing; and
  • More

 

 

Table of Contents

 

preparing for travel nursing

 

New Travel Nurse Advice: What Do I Need to Know?

As a new travel nurse, you have probably narrowed down a few locations you’d like to work in, but please take the time to plan and prep before packing your suitcase. 

What Should I Know Before Travel Nursing? 9 Travel Nursing Tips

Taking on travel nursing is a great way to see the world and earn a paycheck simultaneously.  

However, it can be beneficial to have a few tips and tricks under your wing to navigate your new role easily and understand and enjoy your new responsibilities.

#1: Use Your Recruiter

Travel nursing veterans will tell you that finding a great recruiter is an essential part of the job.

When meeting with potential recruiters, make sure you ask plenty of questions upfront to determine if your personalities and communication styles are compatible with the recruiter. Then, once you find a great recruiter, he or she will be by your side the entire way.  

Remember, however, that your relationship with your recruiter is a two-way street. Therefore, you should provide them with all the necessary information regarding the types of jobs you are looking for, so they can help you find the best contracts. 

Travel nurse recruiters not only help you find the best contracts that fit your desires but they can also:

  • Prep you for interviews
  • Obtain new state licenses
  • Advice on what you might need to bring to your new job
  • Have instructions for your first day at the new facility
  • Know what documentation is required
  • Arrange travel and housing; and
  • Much more

It’s important to communicate openly with your recruiters once the two of you are working together to ensure a successful recruiter-travel nurse partnership.

#2: Understand Your Contract

Travel nursing contracts are probably the most crucial aspect of travel nursing.

Make sure you understand everything in your contract before you sign. It’s essential to verify that the contract will benefit you. 

It may seem obvious, but you should never begin to drive to the contract site before signing. If the assignment situation changes for some reason, you have nothing to fall back on. As with any business agreement, get everything in writing and review the contract carefully before signing.

A few things are typically included in a travel nurse contract: 

  • Contract length
  • Hours
  • Pay (i.e., overtime, holidays)
  • Time off
  • Housing and travel arrangements
  • Stipends (i.e., lodging, meals, incidental)
  • What happens if the contract falls through; and
  • More

Trusted Nurse Staffing works hard to secure you a good contract that pays well. In addition to helping you navigate travel, we offer assistance, answer questions, and address any concerns you may have during your job.

 

travel nursing tips

 

#3: Be Flexible

As a first-time travel nurse, a travel nurse company may tell you they can place you anywhere you want. But, in reality, you might not always get your first choice. 

If you are flexible about …

  • Location
  • Setting; and
  • Facility

… you will be able to get a travel nurse job quickly. After you have experience, you can be more selective about where you work.

You are more likely to find opportunities if you are flexible. However, this does not mean you should settle — be clear about what you are willing to compromise on. 

#4: Use Other Travel Nurses You May Know

Naturally, you have a lot of questions about traveling nursing. In the same way that you can get information from your recruiter, you can also speak to other travel nurses you might know. Travel nurse advice from other travel nurses can be extremely valuable. 

Maybe a classmate from nursing school is now a travel nurse? Reach out to them and ask any questions you might have. 

Another great place to ask questions is online communities and forums with other travel nurses. Those travel nurses can provide answers to your questions.

#5: Be Organized and Prepared

Every travel nurse is (or becomes) organized at some point. That doesn’t mean you should color-code your closet, but you should make sure all your paperwork is in order. 

You need to keep the following records up to date: 

  • Licensing information
  • Any certifications; and
  • Health and immunization records  

Along with keeping these records up-to-date, it’s essential to know when they need to be renewed. Mark these dates on your calendar and give yourself enough time to renew them.

 

travel nurse advice

 

#6: Research Your Destination

You should not show up at your new destination blind. There’s a good chance you’ve already chosen your destination, but it’s still wise to do your research. 

New travel nurses can prepare for almost anything by doing a little online research. 

When you are a travel RN, a few things you should know include:  

  • What the weather and climate will be like
  • Your housing location
  • The safety of the hospital and housing
  • Methods of transportation available to you; and
  • Attractions you would like to see while you are there

Another important thing to research is how long it will take you to get to work. You do not want to show up late on your first day. 

You can practice your first day as a travel nurse before your first assignment: 

  1. Get up and ready at the appropriate time
  2. Plan on arriving at your location at the scheduled time
  3. Locate a parking space and determine how to reach your floor. 
  4. Decide if you will need more or less time to arrive on your first day.

#7: Know Your Travel Nurse Essentials

Do not forget to make a packing checklist; you can’t bring everything from home but want to make sure you do not forget any essentials. Packing apps, such as Packing Pro and PackPoint, can make packing easier.

One important tip is to not pack “just in case” items. Instead, pack only what you need. You can always buy anything else you need when you get to your destination.

The following are some things you might want to make sure to pack:

  • Any important documents
  • First aid kit
  • Toiletries
  • Scrubs and “off work” clothing
  • Prescription medications
  • A dependable watch
  • Entertainment items (i.e., books, tablets, etc.)
  • Emergency phone numbers

You can ask your recruiter or housing specialist what furnishings and appliances are provided in the housing arranged by your travel nursing agency to know what you’ll need to provide.

#8: Figure Out Home Details

It is vital to figure out what will happen when you leave your home for your travel assignment.

Some questions to think about include: 

  • How will you handle your mail? Are you going to forward it or have someone check it for you?
  • Do you have any deliveries scheduled?
  • What about utilities? Should you cancel them or keep paying? 
  • Do you need to write checks to pay your bills, or are they set up online?
  • Do you have pets? If so, are you taking them with you, or do you need to arrange for their care?
  • Do you have a spouse or children? If so, how will you stay in touch with them?

There are many things to consider before beginning your first travel nursing assignment. However, do not overlook the small things.

#9: Go for It

It can be intimidating and scary when you are new to travel nursing. Most likely, you will not be familiar with the place you are going to or the people with whom you will be working — it’s all about learning.

Just remember, you are equipped with the skills and requirements needed to succeed, so do not let fear stand in your way.

When you …

  • Take advantage of your knowledge and resources
  • Ask questions when necessary; and 
  • Are open to learning

… the experience will likely be much better than you imagined.

 

travel nurse essentials

 

How to Start Travel Nursing

You might think that travel nursing sounds like an exciting career path, but you must know the requirements for becoming a travel nurse before taking the leap.

  • Licensing requirements — Besides being an RN, you also need to be licensed in the state where you work. The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) enables RNs to hold a single nursing license that is valid in multiple states. However, NLC does not cover the entire nation, so checking your state’s licensing requirements is essential.
  • Taxes — The IRS will require you to have a “tax home.” In other words, you need to prove that you live in your home full-time when not working.  
  • Experience — A nursing staffing agency will usually require nurses to have at least a year of bedside experience before signing them up; if you plan to work in a specialized unit, such as labor and delivery or an intensive care unit, the agency may require more time.

Ready to Travel Nurse? Trusted Nurse Staffing Can Help You Find a Position Today 

Trusted Nurse Staffing helps you find temporary nursing jobs that give you work flexibility and travel opportunities. 

When short-term staffing is needed, nurses and healthcare professionals fill in temporary assignments at:

  • Health care facilities
  • Hospitals; and
  • Long-term care centers  

Why work with us? Our experienced team can help you: 

  • Find work
  • Obtain required training, and
  • Support your position. 

As a traveling team member, you will benefit from many benefits that suit your needs and fit your lifestyle.

We want to assist you in finding the best travel nursing position for you, so get in touch with us today to get started.

 

travel nursing tips