Being a travel nurse offers one-of-a-kind benefits and a level of personal and professional excitement beyond almost any other opportunity. Your first travel nursing assignment is an open door to these exciting new worlds and your exciting new career as a working tourist!
Once you’ve burned through your initial excitement overload, though, you may find you have many questions. Beyond packing your best nursing scrubs for your first travel assignment, you’re probably wondering: “What do I need to do now, and how else do I prepare?”
Get Your Documents in Order
You’ll want to ensure you’ve been receiving paper copies of any important documents regarding your assignment – and that you’re keeping them safe! Things like your contract, the terms and conditions of your assignment, any testing that was requested, your licenses and certifications and your tax forms should all be kept available for future reference. The best way to go about keeping all of these documents together and organized, according to school kids and seasoned travel nurses alike, comes as no surprise – it’s a good binder! For traveling, we recommend making this binder a zippable one – and even investing in a waterproof one if possible!
Get Your New Home in Order
As a working tourist, your temporary home is not a decision to be taken lightly. First and foremost, you’ll want to do some extra research on the area that you’ve been assigned to – and in particular, the area that surrounds the new facility you’ll be in. As you begin looking for homes, you’ll have a better idea of what your commute and daily routines will be like based on what you’ve seen during your research. Along with this, you’ll need to think about the travel stipend that you’ll be receiving vs. the costs of various types of housing. While you may have your preferences, the price differences alone between options like house rentals, extended stay hotels, rooms for rent and staying with family could make the decision much easier for you! For first-time travelers, though, the aspects to consider can quickly become overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to reach out to experienced travelers or your recruiter.
Get the Home You’re Leaving Behind in Order
Getting your full-time permanent home in order is as important as getting your temporary home in order and should be taken very seriously – no putting this one off until the end because it will undoubtedly take time to get it ready and remember everything you need to do! Your family and living situation will of course have a major impact on what needs to be done before you leave (and while you’re gone), but there are some basics that can almost be guaranteed to be required when leaving for 13 weeks as you are. These basics include (but are absolutely not limited to) care for any pets you may have, pickup of newspapers or mail deliveries, freezing or forwarding of your mail, house and property maintenance and upkeep, and security check-ins.
Get Your Essentials in Order
While packing as little as possible for a 13-week trip may seem counterintuitive, it may actually help you a lot in this case. Necessities to pack may include instant bedding, limited clothing (catered toward the climate you’re traveling to), necessary toiletries and prescriptions, electronics, your dedicated travel binder and the supplies you’ll need to do your best at your job, like your most trusted and reliable stethoscope or your favorite sphygmomanometer.
Get Your Shopping List in Order
To avoid completely overwhelming yourself upon arrival to your assignment area, it’s recommended that you take some time in advance (for instance, as you pack your essentials) to create a shopping list of things that you will need or want soon after arriving. This is a great idea as you can then adjust the list accordingly based on what you have at your new location, how the climate and environment actually feels to you and what you need to be comfortable. Things on this list may include items like specific toiletries, your go-to groceries, casual clothing or even a new pair of heartsoul scrubs to show off your personality and make good first impression – or a pair of Dickies scrubs to combat the cold that you weren’t expecting in your new city.
Get Your Logistics in Order
Your departure date has finally arrived, and it is time for you to head to the airport. Soon, you will be embarking on your new path and taking what is sure to be a highly rewarding step – but how are you taking this very first step and getting to the airport? While your recruiter will likely handle almost all of your travel arrangements, you will want to walk through this important morning in your head and make sure that you aren’t overlooking any crucial aspects!
Once You’re There…
- Get to know your work environment. This includes hitting the floor and feeling out what it’s like, how things flow and where things are kept, in addition to getting to know the people by hitting the breakroom and introducing yourself. In such a new environment, it’s important to pay attention to your tone of voice and body language, especially in relation to cultural differences!
- Get comfortable in your living environment. Along with your new home itself, it’s likely that you aren’t super familiar with your new city. At the very least though, you should take the time to understand how you get to work, where you park and what your commute is like before your first day.
- Incorporate some of your normal habits from home. Incorporating your familiar habits and routines into your new life can be as simple as following the same routine before bed, but the structure that it offers when everything else is up in the air is significant and will certainly help you to settle in.
The Whole While
Your keys to success as a first-time travel nurse are adaptability, positivity and staying proactive – which is likely not only why you’re here, but why you’ll succeed! Luckily, if that still doesn’t feel like enough, many employers will provide you with an extended orientation to assimilate you into the organization and absorb proper procedures, or even assign you a nurse preceptor or mentor – along with your recruiter, who will always be there to help in any way that they can!