So I have been a travel nurse for almost two years now, and there are so many things I wish I knew before starting this odd but cool career/ lifestyle. Here are some ‘hacks,’ so you are ahead of the game! These hacks will allow you to thrive as you travel wherever your nursing career leads you!
Vacuum Bags: This was my most recent discovery. Vacuum bags from Amazon (of course) have been a huge space saver, especially if you don’t have a ‘home’ back home. If you plan to stay on the move and have a ton of clothes or even just trying to save space on bedding and towels, I highly recommend using them. A friendly piece of advice, though, they can be dangerous and allow you to justify bringing way more than you really need, but hey, who am I to judge.
Licenses/Organizer: Despite travel nursing being pretty chaotic, it is important to remain organized. Based on my experience, most hospitals still want hard copies of your diplomas, licenses, and certifications. Yes, we know you submitted them to your recruiter, but trust me, the grumpy lady running orientation does not want your story; she just wants your paperwork, lol. The best way to prevent this is to stay organized. I recommend an accordion folder or a binder you keep up to date and within reach.
Banking: This might be like going through a divorce or bad break-up for some of you. You will have to cheat on that local credit union you joined back in the fifth grade if you want to do any in-person banking as you dive into travel nursing. Of course, you do not HAVE to. However, it is more practical to have a bank in states you plan to travel to. I recommend Bank of America, not because I love their bank per se, but they are in 37 of the 50 states. This helps with ATM fees or anything that randomly pops-up that may require in-person banking.
Transportation: This is always a debate: bring the car, ship the car, drive the car, or leave the car. I believe the best answer is: do what is best for you and your situation. I shipped my car to California from New York because I knew I planned on being in California long enough to make it worth it for me and my situation. Your situation might be different. My best advice is to explore all options. Are you close enough to drive? How much does it cost to ship your car? Is Uber or Lyft available? How much is a rental car for the entirety of my assignment? Then choose with your best interest in mind.
Gym Memberships: If fitness is a priority in your life, this is an important topic too. Once again, I do not think there is a best answer; it really varies from person to person. So let’s explore all the options, and you choose what is best for you. You can join a chain gym with transferable membership options in various cities where you plan on traveling. You can use this beautiful planet Earth as your gym if the weather in your location allows for it. You can explore online or app options. Or you can do a short-term membership if the facility near you allows for it. I also recommend checking out our NurseCon Yoga Instructors and their video library.
Therapy Pets: Traveling with pets can be incredibly challenging when getting from point A to point B. One of the hacks my girlfriend and I found most useful was seeking a provider to deem our cat a therapy pet for us. Let’s be honest; as a nurse, we need that furry friend after those long 12+ hour days or nights to maintain our mental health. Having proper therapy pet documentation allows for housing and travel flexibility. This is an absolute must if you plan on traveling with pets and avoiding headaches plus additional fees. Landlords cannot charge for therapy animals, and the same goes for airlines.
I hope these travel nurse hacks find you well and make your journey a little bit easier. Remember to do what is best for you and your situation. You have options, explore all of them, and as you continue to travel, you will pick up your own little bag of tricks as well. Don’t forget to share them with the rest of the nursing community!