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How to Pack Your Travel Suitcase

April 23, 2018

By Lee Nelson

When you pack for a vacation, it’s easy to get a suitcase and throw in the essentials along with some comfortable and fun clothing. But how do you pack your travel suitcase for a nurse assignment that lasts 13 weeks or more?

But those who have been doing this gig a while now, understand the importance of planning, researching the area of the assignment and paring down to what you need to live happily without too much fuss and muss.

“Every travel nurse feels overwhelmed stepping in a new city,” says a representative from Emerald Health Services in El Segundo, Calif. “It is important to receive a high level of expertise and attention. I encourage each and every traveler to partner with their housing department to discuss all aspects of their future residency.”

Companies want their nurses to concentrate on your new job and avoid any stress.

What should you do before packing?

Many companies offer a variety of corporate set-ups. The ‘turn-key’ offer includes furnishings in all rooms, appliances, housewares, linens, cable, and internet, she says. “Emerald Health Services conducts that very important initial intake to capture what our candidate desires for her/his upcoming assignment,” she adds.

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If your housing does not offer anything but furniture, what should be your essential list for packing to live well but not to go crazy?

For those situations, where the units are “furnished” only, she highly suggests packing a bed in a bag set; a set of towels; and a few pieces of dishware and cutlery. Also, no one should neglect to bring plastic closet hangers and a roll of toilet paper. These essential items will be a welcome to any travel nurse that finds him/herself arriving into town in the late hours of the night.

What things should a travel nurse always purchase later once they get to their destination to make things easier?

“Dependent on which type of housing package a traveler has selected will determine what to pack and purchase later on. As you may want to get everything at once, it’s best to prioritize and address the essential needs for the first couple of weeks of your travel nursing assignment,” she replies.

What documents should you always pack for your job?

It’s important to have all of your banking documents, auto insurance policy, list of medications, emergency numbers, and pet records [if traveling with a pet].

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Since a travel assignment usually is 13 weeks, what is the least amount of clothing and work clothes you can get away with packing?

“In addition to their scrubs, I always suggest bringing a basic set of workout clothes, comfortable walking shoes, a sweater and one nice jacket,” she says. “And, let’s not forget to pack at least one essential going out ensemble.”  You can’t go wrong with a little black dress or a suit jacket and nice slacks.

Shoes are heavy usually. So, what’s the right number and right kinds of shoes to pack?

In addition to the perfect work shoe, do pack a great pair of Converse All Stars for exploring the city on your days off, a favorite evening shoe for a special occasion, and your go-to work-out shoe. At most, I would simply keep the shoe count at three pairs.

What items should you pack to make your house feel like a home when you get there?

Framed photos of your family and loved ones can keep them close to your heart. “Everyone wants to make the most of the 750 square feet of living space you will be calling home for the next 13 weeks. Creating the right feel and look for your apartment offers a chance to imprint your personality to your residence,” she says.

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Give your favorite tip on packing like a pro.

“One of my favorite tips is to add a few dryer sheets in your suitcase, as it eliminates wrinkles. It works,” she adds.

What are some easy ways to pack fragile items in your suitcase?

Whether it is a framed photo or a bottle of perfume, wrap these items carefully in between your knits or cotton items.

If you are traveling by car and have more room to bring more things, what other things do you suggest that could make the travel nurse more comfy or less homesick?

Your favorite bed pillow and/or blanket are essential. “Since we spend almost a third of our lives sleeping, it is why the bedroom is one of the most important spaces in any dwelling. Comfortable, cozy blankets and soft pillows is a must for a good night’s sleep,” she explains.

What apps or websites could help travel nurses do a great job of packing?

Two free apps are: PackPoint [Android and iOS] and Packr Travel Packing [iOS].

Are their packing products that can make packing more organized or smoother?

She always suggests to pack with tissue paper. This is especially helpful if you are packing soft items like silk shirts or undergarments.