These days nurses have many different options for careers within the healthcare industry, including becoming a travel nurse. When heading out for the first time, it can be exciting but also somewhat of an anxious time. You probably can’t wait to experience those new destinations, work in a diverse range of environments, earn more money, and possibly form long-lasting friendships with people you probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.
After filling out all the paperwork, turning in your documents, and so on, before you hit the road to embark on the first assignment, you’ll want to be sure your prepared – this road trip/travel checklist can help ensure the smoothest experience possible to get you started on the right foot.
One of the first things to think about is what to do with your things. Your housing will probably be provided for you, and furnished, so what will you do with your own? If you plan to have someone rent your apartment or house while you’re gone, you may be able to leave most of your items there. Otherwise, this is an ideal time to purge anything you don’t really need, whether you toss them, donate or sell them. Travel nursing is a great opportunity to embark on a simpler life without so much stuff. Anything that you don’t need can be put into storage or stored with a family member or friend. As housing can vary significantly depending on the agency and location, be sure to talk to your recruiter first to find out what will be included so that you don’t duplicate items. If you find you need something once you’ve arrived, many can be purchased inexpensively at secondhand stores.
Before you start packing, create a list of items you will need based on the conversation you had with your recruiter. Most housing includes at least basic furnishings, a TV, kitchen supplies, linens, and towels. In addition to the necessary items, bring something to help you feel more at home, like a favorite pair of PJs, photos, etc.
Be sure to bring your electronic gadgets like your laptop or tablet, cell phone, etc., and the appropriate chargers. You’ll probably want a camera as well as you’re likely to find plenty of photo-ops while out on the road and at your new destination too. While clothing is mostly a personal choice, you’ll definitely need scrubs, but another consideration is the climate you’re traveling to. For example, if you’ve never been to California, you might be under the impression that summers in San Francisco are warm, but the season is often foggy and a bit chilly. By talking to your recruiter and/or doing some online research, you’ll know what to expect.
All healthcare facilities have their own specific requirements when it comes to documents. Some of the most common reasons for delays in starting an assignment are missing records of inoculations and drug screenings. Make sure that’s taken care of before you plan to arrive. Your documents are one of the most important things you’ll need as they can’t be easily replaced if you forget them and you can’t start the job if you don’t have them with you. Double and triple check before leaving that you have each and every one, such as your driver’s license and social security card, copies of all active professional licenses that haven’t gone paperless (get photocopies of the front and back), proof of vaccines and/or titer results, proof of a physical exam within the last year, and certifications like BLS. Your recruiter will provide you with a specific list.
Road safety is important, so make an appointment with an auto mechanic to have your vehicle checked and any routine maintenance performed so you don’t have to worry about getting stranded somewhere along the way. If you don’t already have one, put together an emergency road kit with items like water, a first-aid kit, tool kit, road flares, spare tire and jack, jumper cables, an ice scraper if you might encounter below-freezing weather, and a blanket.
You might want to pack a cooler with food so that you don’t have to dine out for every meal. Be sure to bring the contact information for your staffing company and recruiter in case any issues arise, along with all the details for your housing, including a contact number, directions, etc. Backup paper maps will be helpful in case you lose signal somewhere and can’t access GPS. AAA insurance and travel guides for your new destination and any places you might want to visit along the way are always handy to have as well.