Travel Nursing – Safety Tips to Take on the Road
Being a travel nurse is exciting and possibly one of the most memorable things you will do in your nursing career. With that said, it seems that with all good things in life, there’s the possibility that bad things will follow.
Travel nursing is fun and very adventurous but without taking certain safety precautions, your memorable journey could quickly become a nightmare. I want to share with you a few important safety tips I used when I traveled so you can be better prepared and have just as memorable of a time as I had.
Safety tip #1: Get to know your recruiter
Before I started my first contract as a travel nurse I made sure I made a good connection with my travel nursing recruiter. Your travel nursing recruiter is usually your first contact for any safety or general concerns about an assignment. So you want to make sure that you can trust the person you are working with. Make sure you have a good way to reach them in the event you need something right away. For example, a good travel nursing recruiter will give you his/her personal cell phone number so if you ever have a question about something they will be right there to help you. When my wife and I were traveling across country for the first time, my recruiter would call us throughout the drive to check up on us. He would make sure we were on time and if we encounter any problems. This personal relationship was great to have and know that he was always there for us. He was AMAZING!
Safety tip #2: Have great communication
Communication is very important when you are away from home because if you ever need anything your family or loved ones can help you. So always try to remember to keep everyone in loop with your travel plans. If you are flying be sure to let them know what flight you are on and your estimated time of arrival. They can jump online and track your flight while en-route and then you can simply call or text them when you arrive.
If you are like myself and like to drive it’s very important to plan ahead. Don’t rely on your phone especially if you’re traveling out west. I don’t care what those cell phone commercials say; you will lose cell phone reception from time to time so always plan to have a backup. I always printed off a map of my route just in case my GPS stopped working. I also gave a copy to my parents so they knew my route and each stopping point. That way if we ever got lost or went missing they knew where to direct help if we ever needed it. I also kept a portable external battery with solar charging capabilities, and a car cell phone charger with me so when my cell phone provider was sucking up all of my battery power for service, I had plenty of backup options to help keep us charged.
Safety tip #3: Know where you are going
If you are traveling by road or even by air make sure you do your homework, and know where you are going. Make sure your stopping points are well-populated locations with plenty of people around, especially if you are traveling alone. Be confident and don’t look lost or out of place because the last thing you want to do is walk up to a total stranger and say “Hello! I am lost, alone, with no cell phone service and have no idea where I am. Will you be so kind and help me.” That’s the classic plot to every horror movie! So to prevent yourself from getting into that situation, plan ahead and know where you are going! You can use various apps or websites to help you pick good locations to stop at. My wife and I used Google search and Yelp.com. They have great reviews from people like you and me. If either of those options does not yield results, reach out to your nursing recruiter for help. They often know great places to visit or might help you connect with another travel nurse in the area who can.
Safety tip#4: Safety in numbers
Whether you are traveling or going out for a night in the new town, make sure you are with a good group of people. These people can help keep you away from bad parts of the town and also help you enjoy your new location. I would always ask my fellow nurses “where’s the best place to eat?” or “where are the good and bad parts of town?” By connecting with others you can find local and safe places to go. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your co-workers. They know the area and are often times excited and are more than willing to help you.
Safety tip #5: Just in case
I think it goes without saying this but just in case, if you ever feel like you are having a life threatening emergency always call 911 first. Sometimes the unfortunate can happen to us because we are more vulnerable to an environment we are not familiar with. So it’s very important to always to keep your safety and well being in mind. Always think to yourself “Just in case.” For example: I should call my parents and let them know where I will be tonight, just in case. I should plan out my travels and check on the hotel I am staying at, just in case. I probably shouldn’t pick up that hitchhiker, just in case. This saying has saved me from a few headaches along the way, so maybe it will help you.
When all goes according to plan, being a travel nurse is a great and extremely rewarding opportunity! Hopefully a few of my safety tips can help you prevent a future issue or problem from occurring. But just in case, you can always get into contact with me on LinkedIn.com. I would love to hear about your future or ongoing travel nursing journeys. Stay safe and enjoy your travels.