Day in the Life Of a Travel Nurse: Wild Camping
One of the greatest things about travel nursing is having the ability to see so many different parts of the country. Our days off are full of exploring new places that we have only ever seen before in photos and may never even have known existed. Although it might not be everyone’s preferred method of seeing new places, camping provides a cheap way to travel on a budget, and make the most incredible memories with your friends. Over the years, I have spent hundreds of nights under the stars in new places, spent around a campfire with new and old friends.
Here is a look into what a few days off during a travel assignment can look like when you are ticking off those bucket list trips.
At the time of this trip, I had a travel contract in Salt Lake City, and some of my close friends decided we all needed a get-together. One of them had never been to Utah’s national parks, so we decided it was the perfect opportunity for our travels. One friend flew into SLC the night before and we did a quick grocery run before spending one last night in a bed before leaving for camping. The next morning, we woke before the sun and loaded up the gear to hit the road. Our first stop was about three hours away, so we made a quick pit stop for some essentials: gas and coffee.
Our first stop was an off-the-grid hike where we rendezvoused with another friend who drove to meet us. Southern Utah is full of numerous canyon hikes that involve tight crevasses and breathtaking rock formations. We filled the canyon with so much laughter on our fairly quick out-and-back hike before returning to the cars for a quick picnic lunch.
I always recommend travel nurses check out as many state parks as possible during their contracts. These places are, after all, protected because of their beauty, so it is a great spot to start when searching for camping or exploring locations. We loaded up after the hike and drove to Goblin Valley State Park. We again did a quick out-and-back hike, enjoyed the incredible beauty around us, then headed back to the car to make our way toward our camping location for the night.
We drove to our first National Park of the trip, Capitol Reef, where we opted to stay in one of the established campgrounds. We set up our tent, hung out in some hammocks, and then did a late afternoon hike down one of the popular areas in the park. We then went back to the campsite, made some dinner, and slept really well after a full day of traveling.
On our second day, we woke up and quickly made some breakfast, packed up our camp, and then did a little more exploring around Capitol Reef. We discovered that in a National Park, you should spend some time investing in longer hikes, or overnight trips to fully see its beauty, but the views from our cars were nothing to complain about either. We had another two-hour drive to get to the next destination, so cue car snacks and car karaoke.
Arches National Park
We arrived at the famous Arches National Park and knew that seeing Delicate Arch was a priority. We filled our day with three separate hikes and took advantage of all of the pullover spots to simply enjoy the views. We left in the late afternoon so that we had time to set up our site before it got dark.
Sometimes you luck out and have ideal weather conditions, but this was not the night. It was extremely windy out, so we threw our tent up, made dinner as quickly as possible, and then put as many of our belongings as we could inside the cars and hunkered in our tent for the rest of the evening. Always bring some cards and a portable speaker with you when camping, because you never know when you might need them.
We woke up before the sun so that we could catch the sun coming up over the horizon while we watched through the Mesa Arch. This is truly an incredible sight, but keep in mind that it doesn’t come without swarms of people and photographers. It was a chilly morning, as many mornings are while camping, but our puffy coats and cozy beanies kept us warm for our brief sunrise viewing.
We spent the rest of our day hiking trails and going to various viewpoints around Canyonlands. Due to our time constraints, we did not drive down into the canyon, but there were plenty of opportunities to take in the views and get some exercise in from the top viewpoints. We sat on the rim of one of the canyons, chatted about life, and sat in awe at the beauty before us. We then packed up all of our things and split up. One car headed back to SLC for another day at the hospital, and the other back home.
We had the absolute best little trip, which is such a huge perk of travel nursing. Working three 12-hour shifts leaves a few days a week for adventuring. And when you’re constantly traveling to new places, you’ll never run out of places to go and see.
Camping, especially on the western side of America, allows for so many wonderful memories. Once you make the investment in some camping gear, it can be as cheap as the price of gas for an incredible trip. Camping gear also doesn’t take up a significant amount of car space, so it can come with you on all of your travels. I highly recommend a Utah State National Park camping getaway.