Travel Light Without Sacrificing Creature Comforts
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.
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.