Dawn Papandrea
Dawn Papandrea
April 4, 2017 - 3 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 instance, if they are providing the housing, the apartment might have basic appliances (like a toaster and microwave), a TV, and housewares.

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 what items you can leave off of your list, here are some of things you will need:

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 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 depending on where and when you’re traveling: outwear, a swimsuit, rain gear.

2. Personal care items

You will likely want to take your hair dryer, electric toothbrush, etc., but don’t go too crazy packing up toiletries that you can buy once you’re there. Bring a few days supply 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 a long 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
• Major credit card, 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.

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6. Cooking and kitchen appliances

If not supplied, pick up any of the following that you use: a coffee maker, tea kettle, toaster, microwave, slow cooker, and pots and pans.

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. 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 them 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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