It’s time to hit the road
So you’ve made the decision to shift your career from working as a staff nurse to taking your talents on the road! How exciting?! You may have mixed feelings regarding this.
Or you may be ecstatic.
This is a huge step for you within your nursing career. One of the most unique experiences you’ll ever have. The opportunity to travel the country without any long-term commitments to any one city. All while getting paid.
Why would someone trade their stability for the unknown? Your reason for this may vary however— changing your physical environment can propel you forward for the fresh start that you need. In the past, travel nurses were required to have at least 2 years’ worth of experience. Most recently, several travel nursing agencies have opted to hire on nurses with 1 year of experience within an acute care setting.
Don’t be afraid to make the jump. Step out of your comfort zone. And plunge into the unknown. There is a great opportunity for self-discovery when you’re put in a position to adapt to a new setting. Your experience can range from one 13-week contract to years of travel nursing. You get to decide the life that you want to create for yourself. Remove the self-limiting beliefs and venture out.
Lighten up the load
You really don’t need much for a 13-week assignment. You will be surprised by how little you need to make it through your contract. Check out my list of things to take with you as you travel to your destination.
An entire wardrobe is not needed. Or as some of us have, a mini boutique. Bring clothes for at least a 2 week period with versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched. Stick with the basics with your shoes, bringing a couple of pairs that can be worn with multiple outfits.
- 1-2 pairs casual shoes
- 1-2 pairs formal/dressy shoes
I opt to bring travel-sized toiletries to avoid the hassle while flying. Instead, purchase full sized products once you arrive. Bring specialty items with you that may be difficult to find.
Depending on your living arrangements, you may have the ability to cook your own meals. Repeat after me- DO NOT GO CRAZY WITH THE KITCHENWARE. A little goes a long way in this area. For example, my mason jars doubled over as food storage as well as glasses for my beverages. Use items that can serve more than one purpose to minimize clutter. I also decreased the amount of cookware by using tin foil as baking pans. I’m telling you— less is more.
- 1-2 set of silverware
- 1-2 mason jars
- 2 bowls
- 2 plates
- 1 spatula
- 1 cooking spoon
- 1 pan
- 1 pot
Money saving tip: Avoid the hassle of daily trips to the coffee shop or smoothie café by investing in a mini blender. I found one on amazon for $20. This can double over as a food processor or blender. Invest in a small coffee pot or mini Keurig. Daily trips to the coffee shop can add up to about $1,100 per year!
Your bedding will be based on whether or not you go with company housing vs. alternate housing options such as air bnb. Some housing will come with bedding whereas with company housing you’ll have furniture but not the actual bedding. If you’re going with company housing, ask the personnel who’s handling your housing the size of the bed that will be provided to you. And purchase one set. That’s all you need. Feel free to bring 1 or 2 items to make your home away from home feel more comfortable. But keep your packing to the bare necessities.
I went through 5 pairs of shoes before I found the right one. 5.
Related Article: Successful Shifts For Nurses
Our shifts range between 8-12 hours. With most bedside nursing jobs requiring 12-hour shifts. Bring at least 1 pair of comfortable shoes. One weeks’ worth of scrubs. Layering shells if you tend to get cold at work.
Buy experiences not things
There is not price tag to the amount of relationships and knowledge that you’ll gain in such a short period of time. Bringing the essentials alone removes distractions and keeps your immediate needs at the forefront. Once your experience at any given location is completed, very rarely will you care about the stuff that you’ve brought with you. Your time will be consumed by the moments that you spent learning. A new city. New people. New workplace. It can be during this time that you determine if the bedside is truly for you. Trying out this career path in different locations will allow you to further examine what it is that you want. So take a chance and don’t ever look back.
Prefer audio books like I do? Click here
Vintage Traveling Nurse Podcast: Starting Life as a Travel Nurse
This blog post was co-written with Wunedel Augustin. Wunedel is a masters prepared nurse who works as a nurse manager for a home health agency. She has been a registered nurse for 10 years with experience spanning across several different areas including neurology, medical-surgical, PACU, academia, and hospice.
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