So you’ve decided to become a travel nurse. That’s wonderful, and on behalf of Alegiant Healthcare Staffing, we sincerely hope it’s the experience of a lifetime. Many of our nurses point to their travel nursing gigs as some of the most rewarding and adventurous experiences of their lives.
You will most likely cherish the unique opportunity to work in various hospitals, meet new people, and experience different cultures across the country. But, if you’re like most of our nurses, there is one daunting task that is probably hanging over your head like a rain cloud: PACKING.
Organizing and prioritizing your belongings for a three-month work trip is no small task. To help, we’ve compiled 5 simple tips and tricks you can implement to smooth the process.
1. Make a list of what you use daily. For two weeks, jot down things you use and do. This is a good starting point, because it focuses on the necessities and eliminates items you might pack just because you have them. For example, if you have an extensive kitchen collection but only use a fraction of it, just bring the fraction. Moving is hard work, and there’s no need to make it harder and pack an excess.
2. Know what your staffing agency provides. If your staffing agency provides cleaning supplies, it would be a waste to pack your own. Or if your staffing agency includes them for a small cost, it’s worth it. The theme is to only pack what you absolutely have to. You should also check with your agency or housing management to confirm what furnishings come with your living space. If at all possible, don’t bring any furniture with you.
3. Compression bags and storage containers are your friends. Almost as important as what you pack is how you pack it. Compression bags are optimal for packing your clothes, especially winter clothes, because you can shrink them into a fraction of their regular mass. And when you’re one who likes to have options, these bags are a necessity. Clear storage containers are also a traveler’s best friends. (Side note: this one only applies to drivers. Most travel nurses do drive, but you can’t use them if you’ll be flying.) Storage containers allow you to see what you’ve packed to make the unpacking and repacking process methodical and simple. They’re also more durable and easier to carry than regular cardboard boxes, making moving day that much easier.
4. Consider the location. This one may seem obvious, but don’t overlook the fact that in a three-month timespan, the season and weather will more than likely change. The Weather Channel provides a monthly average for different areas of the country, so you can predict the different temperature ranges you’ll probably face.
5. Apps and websites will save your time and sanity. After gathering all your information and packing materials – from your list of what you use to all the containers to pack with – use an app or website to keep your mind organized. The PackPoint app allows users to enter their destination, length of stay, and expected activities and events, and generates a customized list for the user. The app even takes the weather into account. It is available for iOS and Android devices. If you’re looking for a website, Packtor is a similar resource that functions as both a website and an app, so you can use it on your computer, phone or tablet. And if you want to create and maintain your own list, Trello is a task-tracking app and website that allows you to track your own lists.
As you embark on what will be an exciting chapter of your nursing career, having this packing guide will help you prepare for the journey ahead.