Dawn Papandrea
Dawn Papandrea
February 15, 2023 - 4 min read

10 Things A Travel Nurse Must Always Pack

Heading out for your first travel nursing assignment is exciting, but you’re probably a little nervous about what to pack.

When you’re going to be away for a couple of months, you’ll definitely need more than you did for your last weekend road trip.

Then again, you don’t want to overpack since your location is temporary, and you’ll be heading back to your home base before you know it.

Before you start making your packing list, there are a few major things to consider that will help determine what you’ll need.

First, speak with the travel nursing agency to find out what will be provided for you. For example, are they providing housing, or are you using your stipend? If they’re providing it, will it be a house or apartment? And does it have basic appliances (like a toaster and microwave), a TV, laundry, and all the bedding. If so, that will really help lighten your load

Next, do some research about the area to find out what type of weather you might expect. Will you need to bring cold weather gear? Rain boots? Etc.

Finally, consider how you are traveling. If you’re going by car, can you fit everything you’ll need in the trunk and backseat? If you’re flying or taking a train or bus, will you have to ship items?

Your agency will reimburse you for travel expenses, but be sure to ask what that includes since allowances vary.

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Once you figure out which items you can leave off of your list, here are some of the most common things you will need to pack:

1. Clothes

Remember, you only need enough to get through a few weeks, so you don’t necessarily have to take your entire wardrobe or special seasonal items.

Stick with a few casual outfits (tops and bottoms that you can mix and match), a couple of sweaters/sweatshirts, work clothes/uniforms, gym/lounge clothes, nice shoes, sneakers, slippers, pajamas, and intimates. Items to consider depend on where and when you’re traveling: outerwear, a swimsuit, rain gear, sun hat…the list goes on.

2. Personal care items

You will likely want to take your skincare toiletries, makeup, and electric toothbrush. But don’t go too crazy packing up toiletries that you can buy once you’re there. Plus, furnished housing may have items like a hair dryer and shampoo/conditioner. Bring a few days’ supply of the essentials just so you have them on hand, and then stock up once you arrive.

3. Electronics

Bring along your laptops, e-readers, tablet, phone, and the appropriate chargers for each. Don’t forget to pick up a car charger if you’re road-tripping it.

4. Paperwork and financial stuff

When you’re traveling for an extended period of time, you should always take along copies of important documents that you’ll need for work, and in case of an emergency. This includes:

  • Your travel nursing contract
  • Driver’s license, Car registration, insurance card (originals)
  • Birth certificate and Social Security card (copies)
  • Copies of nursing license and credentials
  • Passport if you think there’s a chance you may leave the country (for example if your assignment is in San Diego, you may day trip down to Mexico for Taco Tuesday or some wine tasting)
  • Major credit card, like our travel nurse credit cards, and a debit card

5. Meds

If you take prescription medication, bring a full supply and prescriptions for refills. You can also take along a small first aid kit, vitamins, and a couple days supply of other over-the-counter medicines you use. Other items can be purchased when you arrive, or you can use a local post office to pick up packages when you travel.

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6. Cooking and kitchen appliances

If not supplied, pack up any of the following that you use: a coffee maker, tea kettle, toaster, microwave, slow cooker, and pots and pans. However, most furnished housing should have these items. Check with the landlord or company you’re renting from.

You can also buy utensils, a can opener, dishes and glassware (a service for 2 or 4 should suffice), etc. Unless you like to bake or live on smoothies, you can probably live without a hand mixer or blender.

What you need really depends on your cooking preferences.

7. Travel gear

If you’re flying, a neck pillow and headphones are good items to have. If you’re in the car, consider a good-quality travel mug, some bottled water, and snacks.

8. Comforts from home

Whether it’s photos of friends and loved ones, a favorite knick-knack, a local coffee brand, or scented candles, bring along something that will help you fight homesickness.

9. Bed and bath items

A bed-in-a-bag set, and a couple of bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths are probably all you’ll need. Again, these may be provided, so check first! You might also bring things like a comfy throw and a bathrobe.

10. Household items

Think about things you might need, like a basic tool set, a broom and dustpan, office supplies, and pack up a box. Again, you can get these items once you arrive, but why pay for new ones if you have some of these expensive items already on hand?

Deciding what to pack for your travel nursing assignment really depends on what you use and what you don’t, but this list will give you a starting point. Happy packing!

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