Travel Light Without Sacrificing Creature Comforts

Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, November 04, 2021 Posted in Travel Nurse Tips

travel lights

One of the most arduous parts of travel nursing is packing everything up at the end of an assignment, moving house, and unpacking it all again. If it feels like you never have enough time to settle in, packing up your entire life three or four times a year can really put a damper on your lifestyle. How do you choose what to take with you and what to leave behind? And how do you travel light without leaving too much of yourself behind?

Striking a balance isn’t easy

Packing is almost universally disliked. Sorting through all your belongings, packing them into boxes, labeling them, and moving them from one home to the next is a bit of a chore. Once is hard enough, but packing and relocating multiple times a year is even more difficult. If you get frustrated with packing, you might start to feel like relocating again isn’t worth the effort.

On the flip side, some travel nurses “overcorrect.” It might be tempting to put everything you own in storage and travel with the bare essentials, but this approach means living without the things you cherish, and it can make your assignments feel cold and impersonal.

nurse packing

Packing smarter is the key

The trick to packing for travel nursing isn’t necessarily packing less — it’s packing smarter. Packing for travel nursing is like any other skill. It takes strategy, time, and practice to master. If you’re struggling to pack for your assignments, use these tips for traveling light without leaving your favorite things behind.

  • Start with the musts. It’s tempting to grab your favorite outfits or home goods, but do you need them? Your first step is to lay out the items you absolutely must have. Bring at least a week’s worth of laundry and personal items, but buy your toiletries when you arrive. If you still have room, choose a handful of items you’d like to have.
  • Create a “living” packing list. The good thing about travel nursing assignments is they’re predictability. Unless you’re switching between drastically different climates, you’ll need the same basic items for every location. Create a packing list you can use for every trip, but keep it flexible, and adjust it over time to account for changes.
  • Organize everything. A huge part of making packing easier is keeping things organized. You can fit a lot more stuff in a suitcase if it’s folded and orderly. Compression packing cubes are useful for storing similar types of clothing, and  compartmentalized backpacks make it easier to stash different types of objects while distributing weight evenly. Once you establish an organized system, it’ll be easy to put everything in its place when it’s time to move again.
  • Bring a few “homey” items. You can’t bring everything with you on assignment. But a few small items, such as photos, don’t take up too much space, and they add a personal touch to help make your temporary living space feel much more like a home.

Don’t think of packing as a nuisance. Instead, try to consider it an opportunity. Every 13 weeks, you get to gather up your belongings, declutter, toss what you don’t need, and get organized again. Travel nursing gives you the opportunity to decide what’s essential, and given time and experience, you’ll have packing down to a science.

There’s a lot to get used to when you transition to a travel nursing career. Some things take time to get the hang of — including packing — but you’ll soon settle into a routine that works for you. And if you need help finding your groove, your Health Providers Choice recruiter is always here for you. Contact us online or call us today at 888-299-9800.

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About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.