Blog originally published on November 23, 2019.

Travel nursing during the holidays doesn’t mean you’re missing out — it means that you have an opportunity to try new ways to celebrate, make unique memories, do something different and have a December you’ll never forget!

Here are six practical tips to make your holidays on the road completely magical:

Tip 1: Make a memorable meal

Food brings people together (#fact), so if there’s a signature dish you love to make this time of the year, travel nursing is the perfect opportunity to share your specialty with the new people you meet on contract. On the other hand, if you’ve been tied to tradition and want to do something new, this is a great time to whip up some kitchen creations that you have never made (mulled wine, anyone?) before. There are countless holiday dishes out there, from savoury to sweet, and spending a day-off cooking and baking is a great way to get in the seasonal spirit!

Looking for something new to try? Here are two meal tips from Select Medical Connections’ team:

>> Holiday spirit recommendations:

Trying to pair wines with holiday meals can seem overwhelming but there is one option that works with most meals and feels extremely festive: Prosecco! This Italian sparkling wine is made from the Glera grape in northeastern Italy and achieves its fizz from secondary fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Unlike Champagne which uses a secondary fermentation in the bottle, this is much more affordable to produce, hence the budget friendly price. Prosecco is typically dry or off dry with medium to high acidity and has a lot of light, fruit flavour with large bubbles that disperse quickly on the tongue. I wouldn’t hesitate to pair Prosecco with most meals, but it goes especially well with spicy foods, cured meats and dried fruits.

Unusual holiday meals are worth celebrating, sometimes they are the most memorable ones.

>> Try our favourite chicken satay recipe:

Delicious Chicken Satays

Try Yang’s satay recipe this holiday season!


  • 4 x Boneless chicken thighs
  • 3 x Lemongrass stalks
  • 2 x Shallots
  • 2 x Garlic
  • Brown sugar (to taste)
  • Coriander (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon x Turmeric
  • 2 tablespoon x Fish sauce
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoon x Canola oil


  1. Cut the chicken thighs into small pieces
  2. Make the marinade (depends on if you have a food processor):
    If you do – process the lemongrass, shallots, garlic, brown sugar, coriander, turmeric, salt, and canola oil into a fine paste
    If you do not – dice the lemongrass, shallots, garlic, and coriander as fine as you can get it to and combine with brown sugar, coriander, turmeric, salt, and canola oil
  3. Combine the chicken thighs with the marinade and let it rest in the fridge for an hour or so.
  4. Once marinating is complete and the chicken has rested, arrange chicken onto skewers.
  5. Grill or barbeque the skewers and voila!

Tip 2: Decorate…differently!

You likely didn’t pack any holiday decorations when heading out for your travel nursing contract, and you may not want to invest in new ones that will be hard to transport home — in some remote locations, there may not even be a place to shop for decor.

That’s where a good DIY session comes in handy! Here are some DIY decoration tips that you can do almost anywhere:

  • If you’re good at drawing, grab some black paper and white-out and make a cute and creative table cloth.
  • Use glasses as a vase and put festive items in them for display, such as dried orange slices, pine cones, or small evergreen tree boughs.
  • If you’re a nurse, chances are you drink coffee (don’t we all?!). You can use your coffee filters to make a one-of-a-kind garland to hang in your accommodation.
  • If you don’t have room for a full-sized tree, go for a walk and find a cute branch you can use to make your own Charlie Brown-style decoration. 
  • You can also make your own banner to hang in your home — whether it’s paper snowflakes or a cheery message. These free printables are great!

Tip 3: Prioritize self-care

Go ahead and indulge…in all the things that help you feel rested and well when you are not at work! Stop counting calories, spend more time outdoors, take a bath everyday – we highly recommend you double down on whatever it is that brings balance and peace to your life during the holiday season. If you are looking for personal wellness tips, do check out this related blog post.

If you still feel lonely, try to find a new passion to pursue — Jennifer takes photos on her time off on contract (and just look at those mountains!). It helps her get through the time away from loved ones.

Tip 4: Book time with loved ones

If you’ll be away from your loved ones, you can still dedicate time to spend together over video chat. Not just a regular call, but a time you booked together to chat over a glass of hot cocoa, some goodies — you can even make sure your decorations are in the background or put on a Santa hat to give it a more festive feel! Making this time different from most calls will give you both a nice little holiday get-together, no matter how far apart you are.

Glorious Yukon Mountains, photo taken by Jennifer

Yukon mountains, photo taken by Select Medical Connections’ travel nurse, Jennfier A.

Tip 5: Binge the holiday bests

We all have our favourite holiday movies, TV shows and music. When you have free time, put these on instead of your regular go-to’s that you watch throughout the year. You can also find some new favourites, there is always something coming out each year that may become a new must-have for future holiday seasons!

Whether you pop on the classic burning fire log channel while mulling around the house, choose a Christmas comedy like Christmas with the Kranks, or opt for a timeless classic like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, holiday shows can get you in a festive mood. When all else fails, YouTube old clips of Michael Bublé‘s Christmas specials and you’re sure to be feeling merry and bright!

SMC Nurse Lindsay enjoying thanksgiving meal with colleagues

Select Medical Connections’ travel nurse, Lindsay celebrating Thanksgiving 2021

Tip 6: Experience local traditions

Is there a performance, festival, market or other cultural event going on where you’re travel nursing? If so, don’t miss out! Embrace what’s going on around you and dive into the community festivities. It’s a great way to meet new people and have fun with the friends you’ve made while on contract.

Related blog post: Travel nursing during the holiday season

Ready to secure your travel nursing contracts for the new year? Contact our career consultants to learn about our upcoming opportunities!