Are you a travel nurse about to leave on your first assignment? Then you’ll definitely benefit from the items on our travel nurse packing list.
As all experienced traveling healthcare professionals can tell you, it’s so easy to forget to pack something. But once you get to your destination, you’re usually too busy to go shopping for a replacement item right away.
Of course, it’s not a problem if you forget to pack a toothbrush, razor or other simple toiletries. You can always purchase new ones at the airport or even at a convenience store.
But if you’ve forgotten your cell phone charger or worse, important documentation like your driver’s license, then it can be a real hassle to arrange for someone back home to send it to you.
To help you avoid situations like this, we’ve put together the following packing tips for travel nurses to cover essential items you absolutely need to bring with you!
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Our Complete Travel Nurse Packing List
1. Important documents
Perhaps the most crucial of all your travel nurse packing list must-haves, important documents are not easily replaced.
If we can offer you one piece of travel nurse advice, it’s to keep a watchful eye on your important documents!
Making an effort to gather and securely store these documents will keep you from paying to have them shipped by a loved one, or replaced by the issuing agency.
You’ll need your:
- driver’s license
- social security card
- car insurance
- travel documents
- insurance policy
- roadside assistance agreement
Your staffing company will have a copy of your nursing license and professional certifications on file.
However, you should also keep digital copies on your phone or laptop just in case you need to produce them for any reason.
Consider also storing a copy on cloud storage such as Dropbox, in a password-protected folder.
Also, make sure to bring:
- the contact information for your staffing company and recruiter
- address and phone number of your new workplace
- details of your temporary lodging
Finally, double-check that you have your debit and credit cards, as well as any customer loyalty cards that can earn you points in nationwide stores.
2. First-aid kit and prescription medications
Packing a first aid kit might skew on the “overly prepared” side considering you’ll be working in a medical office or hospital. However, it is important to have these quintessential “nurse things” at the ready when you are not at work.
Make sure to pack a fully stocked first-aid kit that includes:
- band-aids, bandages, compress bandages, and gauze
- cold compress
- breathing barrier
- a thermal blanket
You should also bring aspirin and ibuprofen, as well as any prescription medications you take – definite nurse must haves!
When it comes to prescription medications, consider getting refills pre-ordered by your doctor before leaving.
While it shouldn’t be difficult to have them filled as things run out, it will be easier if you already have the refills in the system when you find your new pharmacy.
We compiled a list of toiletries below, but keep in mind that it may make more sense to purchase some items at your new destination.
Pack enough to get you through the first few days. Of all the things you need when you travel, a few key toiletries can really come in handy.
Remember that liquids like shampoo, lotions, and mouthwash can spill if they aren’t packed very securely.
Make sure to bring all the toiletries you need, such as:
- hand soap
- shower gel
- shampoo and conditioner
- body lotion and skin creams
- toothbrush & toothpaste
- floss & mouthwash
- perfume and/or aftershave
- razors and shaving cream
- hairbrush and comb
- contact lens solution
- nail file
- toilet paper
You’ll need to bring scrubs, of course—check that they meet your new employer’s requirements.
Insider Tip: Call ahead to find out if your new workplace maintains a low or higher indoor temperature. Knowing this can help you pack appropriately.
If it will be cooler than usual, bring heavier scrubs than normal, or pack some thermal underwear. If it will be hotter than you’re used to, invest in scrubs that breathe easily.
You’ll also need:
- casual clothes
- some formal evening wear
- sports clothing
When preparing your nursing travel things list, check on the climate at your destination so you know whether you’ll need summer or winter gear.
Make sure you have comfortable work shoes, sneakers and shoes to wear with your formal attire.
And don’t forget to pack underwear and socks!
Also, bring a jacket and if necessary, a winter coat, scarf, and gloves.
Bring a compact travel iron or steamer and a lint brush so you’ll always look smart for your appointments.
Finally, remember to pack an umbrella.
It’s no secret we can’t live without our electronics this day in age. Bring your phone, tablet, and laptop—with the appropriate chargers and any other accessories such as a Bluetooth headset or speakers.
If you are a photography buff, you might want to bring a camera (one that’s not on your mobile!). Don’t forget the charger for the camera!
6. Household items
The number and kind of household items you’ll have to pack depends on the level of furnishing provided by your property owner.
If you’re going to stay in a corporate apartment, you probably won’t have to bring anything at all unless you prefer to use your own belongings.
However, if your new place only has furniture, you’ll need to bring a lot of items, including:
- cooking utensils
- plates & bowls
- mugs & glasses
- dish towels
- bath towels
- sheets & blankets
- pillows and pillowcases
Note that it might be convenient to get a “bed in a bag” set that you can easily pack up, as well as relatively cost-effective dorm dinnerware packs that are practical and durable.
Don’t forget to pack a flashlight with some extra batteries!
7. Personal items
When considering things you need when traveling, you may overlook reminders of home.
Even when you are a seasoned travel nurse, it’s nice to bring a couple of possessions with you that reminds you of your loved ones.
Bring a couple of your favorite pictures with family and friends. Little tokens like these will help you stay connected over the miles.
Make sure your music is easily accessible on your devices. Music has the ability to ease and calm you, so creating travel playlists is always a great idea.
If you enjoy reading, pack some good books (or get them on your device).
8. Pet supplies
If you’re bringing your cat or dog with you on assignment, you’ll need to prepare accordingly.
Make sure your pet is microchipped, and take a couple of clear photos on your phone so if he gets lost, it will be easier for you to find him.
Attach current ID tags to his collar. Remember to include your full name and phone number if you don’t want to update the address each time you move.
Have his medicines on hand and bring a file (either in paper or on your phone) that contains his health certificates and medical history, as well as the contact details of the vet that last treated him.
Bring his bedding and blanket, as well as his favorite toys. Having something that smells familiar to him will ease the anxiety pets often experience during travel.
Don’t forget to pack clean-up bags or cat litter!
If you are taking a flight to your destination, find out your specific airline’s rules for traveling with pets on board.
You can find more information about traveling with your pet in this Marriott infographic titled “Pet Travel 101.”
9. Emergency phone numbers
Bring a list of emergency phone numbers with you and keep a hard copy version in your wallet and an e-list in your phone.
You should include the contact details of:
- your next of kin
- your doctor
- your dentist
- your staffing agency
- your insurance agent
Also list the contact details of a doctor, dentist, ER, and a vet at your destination in case you need help immediately upon arrival.
Bonus Travel Nurse Packing List Tip:
Use smartphone apps to your advantage.
Expensify provides a fast and efficient way of processing your expenses while you’re on assignment. You can import data from a receipt (or scanned receipt) and it will be submitted for reimbursement. You can also integrate it with accounting apps for a comprehensive overview of all of your expenses during an extended time period.
Roadtrippers is a powerful app that provides you with information about hotels; scenic routes; restaurants and diners; things to see and do; and much more.
Finally, remember to download the mobile Facebook app to your phone so if you get homesick or lonely, you can reach out to your friends in an instant!
Don’t forget to join our Inspired Traveler Facebook Group. It’s a great place to share photos, ask questions and get even more helpful travel resources!
Keep this travel nurse packing list on hand when preparing for your assignments, and you’ll greatly enhance the chances of making your transition a smooth and relatively low-stress one.
➡ Do you have any super effective travel nurse packing list tips?
Share with us in the comments below!
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