Now that you have completed all the required paperwork and jumped through any hoops that the agency has requested, it’s time to start thinking about leaving. One of the most frequently asked questions is What should I pack. The Gypsy Nurse put together this travel nurse packing guide so you don’t forget the important stuff!
Before we get to the Travel Nurse Packing Guide, lets talk about what your Travel Company is Providing
Each travel nursing agency is unique in what they will or will not provide in your housing. The ‘furnished’ housing that your agency arranges could be fully furnished down to the last teaspoon and towels or sparsely furnished with only the basic furniture. There is a distinct difference between “furnished” and “turn-key”.
Some companies will provide ‘fully furnished’ or ‘turn-key’ housing. This will generally include everything from silverware to linens as well as furniture. In the majority of my personal experiences, I’ve only been provided with the basics which includes furniture. No dishes, towels, etc. Once you find out what your company is providing you next need to know if you will be returning home between assignments. If not, do you have everything you need in case the first location was ‘turn-key’ and the next isn’t?
Travel Nurse Packing Categories
When putting together a travel nurse packing list, it’s easier if you put things into categories. I have a box/tote for each of the following which helps me stay organized.
- Clothing and shoes
- Uniforms, work bag, work shoes
- Electronics (don’t forget the cords)
- Personal Care
- First Aid & Medical
- Luxury Item
Travel Nurse Packing Tips
Know what you use on a daily or weekly basis. Can you live without it? Is there an item that can multi-function to fill the need?
Make it Feel Like Home
Bring something that will help remind you of home. This may be a couple of photos, a favorite pair of pajama’s, or some small trinket.
I can’t stress this enough. If your organized, it will be simple to pack and unpack. I utilize labeled plastic totes to travel. At the end of a contract, what fit’s goes with me and what doesn’t….goes to Goodwill. Packing with totes helps me from adding too many new things.
Hospital Uniform Requirements
Know what uniform the hospital requires. I only take 4 uniforms with me on contract (I work 12 hr shifts). Minimize this as much as possible by being prepared with the correct uniform.
Slim down your wardrobe. Use multi-function clothing in a color-coordinated palette. Do you have a summer skirt that can be paired with legging’s, sweater and boots to use in the fall? Making multiple use of clothing items can be a huge space-saver.
Don’t forget about you! Choose and take one (or two) luxury items with you. I choose to take my favorite pillow and quilt. Not only does this count as my ‘luxury’ item, it also fills my ‘reminder of home’.
If you enjoy a specific activity or a hobby that requires special equipment or supplies, pare it down to the essentials and take it with you. You will have free time and will want to enjoy some of the activities that are important to you. I take my pared down camping kit with me when I travel. These items are expensive and I enjoy the activity and don’t want to miss an opportunity to be involved because I don’t have my equipment with me.
Remember that you are only going to be away from home for 13 weeks (depending on the contract). Travel nurse packing doesn’t have to be daunting if you know what to pack. Pack the essentials, but don’t feel like you have to pack everything in your home.
Unless you plan to go from one contract directly to the next without going home between, you need to remember that you will have an opportunity to re-evaluate your packing at the end of a contract. If you missed something this time, take it with you the next time. If you packed something that you never used; consider leaving it at home next time.
What you take is really individual. I have been able to pare down my packing from an overflowing Explorer to eventually only traveling with 6 Rubbermaid totes. Learning what you need and how to pack it is an art and you will learn as you go.