When you’re on the job, you use checklists all the time. Why shouldn’t that apply to traveling to the job as well? Without a checklist, it becomes all too easy to leave something like a license or medication at home. That’s why we at Coast Medical Service compiled this list of travel nursing needs, so when your next gig rolls around, you’re prepared!
Potentially the most important category of items on the travel nurse checklist is paperwork. This means all of your state nursing licenses, contracts, and agency information, all of which is crucial but also obvious. But paperwork can also mean a list of emergency contacts, personal medical records, your driver’s license, and any necessary information about lodging.
We recommend having a dedicated folder or binder for these documents. This way, they’re always in one place and you can cross them all off your travel nurse checklist at once.
It also doesn’t hurt to have digital copies of your documents. They’re not always a replacement for the real thing – a photo of your passport certainly doesn’t work at TSA checkpoints – but having an easily accessible record of what information is on them can help if anything gets lost.
This checklist focuses primarily on your travel nursing needs, but it’s also important to consider the needs of your family and pets. If you have children, they need different things based on their ages that should be on your travel nurse checklist. Even the non-human members of your family have needs, like pet carriers, beds, and food.
For family members that aren’t in your direct care, consider giving them your contact information, your new hospital’s information, and anything else they might need while you’re gone. The age of social media has made staying in contact easier, but it’s always better to be prepared in case of an emergency.
Typically, “appropriate clothes” means scrubs while at work. But it still deserves a place on this travel nurse checklist because even within that, there’s still a wide range of what is considered “appropriate.”
It’s always a good idea to call your new hospital and make sure that the scrubs you own are up to their standards. Some hospitals allow scrubs with designs and patterns, for instance, while others don’t.
Also, learn whatever you can about the hospital’s internal temperature. If they keep it cooler inside than what you’re used to, pack your heavier scrubs and a couple of sweaters. Accordingly, consider what the city’s climate is like and what time of year you’ll be there. You don’t need your thickest winter coat during the summer in Los Angeles.
When packing for the next gig, most people tend to think about their travel nursing needs at work. But keep what you need at home in mind, too! Toiletries, medications, electronics, and things for your personal time all belong on any travel nurse checklist.
Having a bag of travel-sized toiletries can help get you through the first few days in your new city. Getting refills of medications ready to go at your new pharmacy will save you headaches (sometimes literally) later. And any items to support your hobbies are necessary for striking a healthy work-life balance wherever you go.
Sometimes your lodging has everything you need for everyday life there. But sometimes, all it has is furniture. Be prepared for anything by bringing just a few basic household items, or things that you know you need for staying in a new home for months.
If you like to cook at home, something like your Instant Pot might earn its place on your travel nurse checklist. Packable kitchen sets are usually a good idea, as are your favorite recipes and ingredients. Who knows what your lodging will have (or not have) before you have the chance to run to the store or have groceries delivered.
We also recommend putting together a shopping list filled with things you know you need every time, like dish soap and paper towels, so when you do make that big shopping run, you can pick up all the necessities.
Ultimately, everybody’s travel nursing needs are different depending on their circumstances. By putting together an actual travel nurse checklist based on these categories, you’ll be prepared anywhere you go!