Kathleen Gaines, MSN, RN, BA, CBC
Kathleen Gaines, MSN, RN, BA, CBC
February 19, 2021 - 2 min read

Tips for First-Time Travel Nurses

These tips for first-time travel nurses can help make for a smoother transition as you embark on an exciting new career path. It can take you to some of the hippest big cities or the coziest small towns in America. Taking the leap can be scary but these tips will make sure you are prepared for what’s to come.

It’s impossible to be completely, especially in a field like nursing, but the unexpected is even more common for travel nurses. Despite having several years of bedside experience, it can still be scary going into the unknown and unpredictable — especially for a first-time traveler. But if you make the most of it and keep a positive attitude, travel nursing can also be an exciting opportunity.

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Tips to Prepare for Your First Travel Nursing Assignment

Here are the top tips for first-time travel nurses that will be sure to make the transition from staff nurse to your first travel assignment easier.

  1. Triple check your contract.
  2. Verify the take-home pay.
  3. Find the right recruiter. If the vibe isn’t right, switch recruiters and/or travel nursing agencies.
  4. Embrace the unknown and experience the new adventure.
  5. Get organized.
  6. Make copies of ALL of your licenses and certifications.
  7. Open a checking and savings account at a national bank (ex. Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America, PNC).
  8. Ensure the time off is written into the contract.
  9. Determine if you are interested in company-provided housing or taking a housing stipend and finding your own accommodations.
  10. Downsize your belongings, especially clothes and shoes.
  11. Join local Facebook groups for an easier transition to a new location.
  12. Don’t be afraid to take your first assignment closer to family and friends.
  13. Don’t accept a position if the pay seems off.
  14. Arrive at your new location ahead of the start date so you can get settled before your first day and orientation.
  15. Make friends with co-workers at your assignment.
  16. If you have a pet, prepare to take them with you by setting up dog walking services, doggie daycare options, and a new veterinary practice.
  17. Make sure your vaccinations and health screenings are up to date.
  18. If you own a home, prepare to rent or sell — depending on your situation.
  19. Go in with an open mind!
  20. Don’t be afraid to explore on your own.
  21. Be patient with your coworkers and new work environment.
  22. Have an open mind with patient assignments.

It’s important to remember, travel assignments are short-term and if the location, hospital, and situation are not a good fit, you can always try somewhere new for the next assignment.

If the assignment is everything you hoped for, speak with your recruiter early to see if an extension is possible. If not, keep the location on your radar for future possibilities.

Ultimately, new travel nurses should be flexible, be prepared, and most importantly be ready to experience the unknown. Travel nursing offers the chance for professional development, great pay, new friends and the adventure of a lifetime!

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