Written by Haleigh Gorrell, RN-Medical/Surgical

Even though it takes a specific type of individual to be a travel nurse, we cannot all be the same cookie-cutter type of person. Travel nursing can be a different experience for each nurse depending on the type of person they are. In our world of continuous learning, it is crucial to learn about yourself and what you personally require in order to live comfortably while away from home. Being self aware includes demonstrating regular self care, especially while out on assignment.

Great Tips for the Best Travel Nursing Experience

Mental Prepare to be Away


One of the best travel nursing tips I can give you comes before the assignment. Before even leaving for a contract, you need to mentally prepare yourself for what is to come. I always spend as much time as I can with loved ones, my partner and friends from home before I am away from them for weeks at a time. Soak up that time because it will be a while before you see them again! Make sure you are in the correct head space to spend some quality time with yourself in the weeks to come. I like to write my feelings down in a journal or in the form of a blog post which always helps me to sort through my thoughts and reflect properly.

Make a Travel Nurse Packing List

Consider what belongings you will need to bring with you to ensure you are living as best as you can. Our provided housing includes basic necessities such as linen and basic kitchen supplies but what else should you bring with you? Is there something you can bring that reminds you of home? I highly suggest bringing a few pictures with you and even a pillow or blanket from home can do wonders. Don’t be afraid to pack something if it is going to help you feel better in your new temporary home. It’s very easy to over pack – I packed WAY too much for my first assignment! After a few contracts, I now realize how little I can actually bring with me and what is important to me now in order to feel comfortable wherever I may be.

Scout out Local Amenities


If you use any of these travel nursing tips, this should be the one. The first couple days of a contract are always challenging. You spend an entire day travelling and almost always start your first shift of orientation the very next morning. All in that first evening, you have to find your housing, get settled in, unpack your belongings, go grocery shopping and prepare for your first day of work the next day.

Don’t forget that you can always buy something that you forgot in your new town! Before you leave, look up what amenities and grocery stores are there in order to prepare (and also how far away they are from your housing). The first grocery shop is always the most painful/expensive! I always pack a little Ziplock bag with basic spices and things I will use so that I don’t have to buy all new items at each contract. Basically, anything you can do to lessen your stress when you are starting a new contract, the better. It’s already stressful enough!

Explore During your Down Time

Once you are settled in, it’s so easy to get into a routine! You will get your schedule and then you can start planning ahead. Use your days off for exploring your new town, hanging out with fellow travel nurses, catching up with people back home, grocery shopping and meal prepping. Take advantage of the calm moments in between the busy ones. Work can be stressful, especially in a brand new place surrounded by a brand new environment and co-workers. You need that time to reflect and unplug from the chaos occasionally.

Even when you are alone in a new place sometimes it is necessary to have a day to yourself to just relax and be alone. Find a local gym and workout regularly – your roommates will probably want to join you! Eating healthy and staying active will do wonders for you on the road. Spend as much time as you can outdoors – Canada is the most beautiful country and we are so lucky that we get paid to explore it! Take advantage of that!

Self Care Habits for Life

Once you return home from assignment, it’s amazing what you learn about yourself as an individual. I can’t believe how much I’ve grown since deciding to be a travel nurse. You’ll be shocked at how much more independent you’ve become. I find myself growing constantly and being self aware and practising regular self care helps with that immensely. You will learn to love yourself more and all of this is because you practiced proper self care techniques from the start! Changing your self-care routine while on assignment will have an impact on you when you return home and it will help you to stick to those habits each and every day. Happy travelling!

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