Travel Nursing Tips: Coping With Life On The Road [Opinion]

Are you launching a career as a travel nurse, or even considering it? This unusual career can be very rewarding, but whether you’re brand new to the nomadic lifestyle of travel nursing, or a seasoned veteran, here are some tips to make the process go smoother and make your home away from home a little more comfortable.

Packing Light For Travel Nurses

Unless you’re taking an administrative travel nurse position, you’ll need to pack plenty of scrubs, but fortunately, those are very lightweight and take up little room in your suitcase. You’ll definitely want to go out on the town or at least out to dinner on your days off, so while you’ll want to pack some casual clothes, as well, don’t bring your whole closet. Pack a few versatile pieces of clothing, preferably in the same color scheme so that you can mix and match to create more looks out of a few pieces of clothing. Don’t forget to pack one or two workout outfits as you’ll want to try to take advantage of the hotel gym to stay fit on the road.

If you love books and movies, rather than lugging along half your library, a DVD player, and binders of movies, the new technology makes things a lot simpler. Electronic book reading devices such as Kindle will keep your suitcase light, and with the right accessories, can even be plugged into your TV to view movies. If you subscribe to services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, invest in a small Roku to view your favorite movies and TV shows via the hotel’s wireless connection. These devices can fit in your purse or carry-on bag if you’re flying.

hotel breakfast buffet with fresh fruit

Eating Healthy In Hotel Rooms

Some travel nurses get lucky enough to get an actual apartment, or a hotel room that has a kitchenette. Hot tip: if your company is going the hotel route, Residence Inn has full kitchens in all of their rooms, including a full-size refrigerator and stovetop, plus an actual oven where regulations allow it. They even provide a toaster, dishes, silverware, and cookware. Being able to cook makes a huge difference in eating healthy while working as a travel nurse.

If you’re driving and can bring along a few extras, consider bringing along your own blender as well as a toaster oven and electric skillet if you are unfortunate enough to be in a hotel that doesn’t have a kitchenette. You can also buy electric pots for boiling water to make pasta, but be careful not to bring too many small appliances for your room.

Hotels usually have a breakfast buffet with yogurt and fresh fruit snacks you can grab in the morning to eat for lunch or for snacks between meals in your room. Stock up every morning whether you’re in the mood for yogurt or fruit for breakfast or not.

Making A Hotel More Like Home

The Gypsy Nurse recommends making a corporate apartment or hotel room feel more like home by bringing along photos of loved ones to add a personal touch. You can also buy some small candles or oil diffusers as well as fresh flowers to create a more comforting environment. If you’re traveling during a holiday, hit up a thrift or dollar store to buy a few holiday decorations so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on holiday fun.

If you have pets, yes your pets can travel with you as long as you let your agency know up front when arranging accommodations. Always make sure you check in advance with an individual hotel to confirm that they accept pets. Also ask if there are any additional pet deposits you must pay at check-in, as you will be responsible for those, not your travel agency that books your accommodations. Some hotels that accept pets will only accept one, while others generally take up to two pets, but if you have more than that, you’re going to have a really hard time finding housing.

Pets can complicate matters when you work as a travel nurse, but they are more than worth the reward of coming home to one or two “fur babies” to keep you company and give you love every day.

having dinner and drinks with friends

Before You Leave Your Travel Nurse Assignment

As you’re wrapping up a nursing travel assignment, you want to make sure you leave on happy terms and take good memories with you. This is a great time to invite a few co-workers who have been friendly and helpful during your stay for a night out to dinner or a few drinks. If you do a lot of traveling, it’s hard to keep up with all the friends you make on the road, but don’t let that keep you from having as much fun as possible with the co-workers you’re about to leave behind.

As you move on in your travel nurse career and time passes, getting references from the short-term co-workers and supervisors can become much more complicated. Supervisors come go and since you were only there for short time, it may be hard to get a reference for future travel nursing assignments or permanent jobs. Be sure to ask your supervisor for a written reference of your performance there so you at least have that documentation to show potential employers. Many travel nurse agencies, in particular, accept written references on company letterhead rather than trying to contact former supervisors directly.

As a travel nurse, you have to do enough problem solving and troubleshooting while you’re at work, so try these tips to make the rest of the travel nurse experience go just a little bit smoother and be more enjoyable.

[Featured Image by iStock]