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September 1, 2023

Packing Tips for Travel Nurses

Packing Tips for Travel Nurses: Essentials for Life on the Road

Travel nursing offers a world of adventure, new experiences, and career growth. However, as a travel nurse, you quickly learn that packing efficiently is an essential skill to make your assignments more manageable and enjoyable. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with detailed packing tips for travel nurses and valuable advice on how to pack efficiently for your travel nursing assignments.

The Ultimate Packing Checklist for Travel Nurses


1. Scrubs:

packing scrubs for your travel assignment



Scrubs are the backbone of a travel nurse’s wardrobe. They provide comfort and professionalism during your work shifts, and having an adequate supply is crucial for maintaining a clean and polished appearance throughout your assignment. When it comes to packing scrubs, the key is to ensure you have enough pairs to last between laundry days, which can vary depending on your assignment and the laundry facilities available.

A good rule of thumb is to pack at least one week’s worth of scrubs. This typically amounts to 5 to 7 sets of scrubs, depending on your work schedule. However, it’s wise to adjust this number based on the specifics of your assignment. If you’ll have access to laundry facilities on-site or nearby, you may be comfortable with a smaller supply. Conversely, if you anticipate limited laundry access, it’s best to pack extra sets to cover the entire duration of your assignment without worrying about running out.

Additionally, consider the climate and type of healthcare facility you’ll be working in. If you’re in a warm and humid location, you may sweat more during shifts and require additional scrubs. Similarly, if you work in a specialized area where you’re more likely to encounter spills or contamination, having extra scrubs on hand can be a practical choice.

Remember that scrubs come in various colors and styles, so choose those that align with your workplace’s dress code and your personal preferences. Packing an assortment of colors can also add variety to your daily attire.

By ensuring you have enough pairs to last between laundry days and considering the unique aspects of your assignment, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle your travel nursing journey with confidence and professionalism.

2. Casual clothing:

When packing casual clothing for your travel nursing assignment, prioritize comfort and versatility. These clothes are essential for your days off and downtime, allowing you to explore, run errands, and relax comfortably. Include items like jeans, t-shirts, shorts, and suitable footwear, considering the climate and local activities. Ultimately, having a mix of casual attire that aligns with your style will enhance your off-duty experiences during your assignment.

3. Outerwear:

When packing outerwear for your travel nursing assignment, it’s essential to consider the climate and season at your destination. Depending on the location and time of year, you should pack appropriate jackets, coats, or rain gear to stay comfortable and protected. Versatility and suitability for both work and leisure activities are crucial factors to keep in mind. Additionally, consider including layering options and accessories like scarves, gloves, and hats to adapt to changing temperatures and weather conditions effectively.

4. Shoes:

When packing shoes for your travel nursing assignment, prioritize comfort and support, as you’ll be spending long hours on your feet during shifts. Choose well-fitting, cushioned shoes with good arch support, such as nursing shoes or athletic sneakers. Consider the climate and terrain of your assignment location when selecting shoes and ensure they are suitable for both work and leisure activities. Quality footwear enhances your overall well-being and allows you to explore your new surroundings comfortably.

5. Undergarments and socks:

When preparing for your travel nursing assignment, it’s wise to stock up on undergarments and socks to minimize the need for frequent laundry. Packing an ample supply of bras, underwear, undershirts, and socks ensures you always have clean and comfortable options available for an extended period. Opt for moisture-wicking and breathable materials, particularly in warm or humid climates, to maintain comfort and hygiene during long shifts and leisure activities. This approach reduces laundry-related stress, allowing you to concentrate on your nursing duties and enjoy your new surroundings.

6. Sleepwear:

For a travel nursing assignment, comfortable sleepwear is essential to ensure a good night’s rest, which is crucial for your well-being and job performance. Prioritize loose-fitting, breathable fabrics that align with your comfort preferences. Consider the climate of your assignment location when selecting sleepwear and pack accordingly. Quality sleepwear enhances sleep quality and overall comfort, helping you stay energized and focused during your nursing responsibilities.

7. Swimwear:

When heading to a sunny destination for your travel nursing assignment, packing swimwear is a thoughtful addition. It allows you to make the most of your leisure time by enjoying activities like swimming, lounging by the pool, or exploring nearby beaches. Ensure your swimwear aligns with your preferred aquatic activities, fits well, and provides the coverage and support you need. Embracing these opportunities for relaxation and fun amidst your healthcare responsibilities can enhance your overall travel nursing experience.

Personal Items:

1. Toiletries:

Personal care items, particularly toiletries, are crucial for your travel nursing assignment. They support your hygiene, well-being, and comfort during your time away. Include basic items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and soap, as well as any specific personal care products you use regularly. Travel-sized or reusable containers can save space and enhance convenience. Keeping your toiletries organized ensures you can maintain your hygiene and grooming routines, helping you feel confident throughout your assignment.

2. Medications:

For a successful travel nursing assignment, comprehensive medication preparation is essential. Ensure you have an ample supply of both prescription medications and basic over-the-counter medicines before your journey. Consult your healthcare provider to obtain prescriptions and understand refill procedures. In addition to prescription medications, include over-the-counter remedies for common ailments. Keep medications in their original containers and carry a list of your medications and dosages for emergencies. Prioritizing medication management allows you to concentrate on your nursing duties and enjoy your assignment with confidence.

3. First aid kit:

A well-prepared first aid kit is essential for travel nurses, providing the means to address minor injuries and medical needs during assignments. It should include bandages, antiseptic supplies, adhesive tape, scissors, tweezers, disposable gloves, and pain relievers. Tailor your kit to any specific medical supplies or medications you may need due to personal health conditions or allergies. Regularly check and restock your first aid kit to ensure it remains well-equipped, allowing you to respond to minor medical situations with confidence while focusing on your nursing duties.

4. Personal documents:

Personal documents are essential for travel nurses, verifying identity and professional qualifications. Key documents include government-issued ID, passport for international travel, and your nursing license. Depending on your assignment, you may need medical certifications like BLS or ACLS. It’s crucial to keep both physical and digital copies, inform a trusted contact of your travel plans, and securely store document duplicates to meet administrative requirements confidently and concentrate on nursing responsibilities during your assignment.

5. Wallet:

Your wallet is a critical item for travel nurses, serving as the central hub for financial resources and essential contact information. Ensure you have an adequate amount of cash on hand, especially when you arrive at your assignment location. Debit and credit cards are essential for managing finances, but make sure they are valid for international or out-of-state use if needed. Additionally, carry a list of important contact numbers, including emergency contacts, agency information, and healthcare facility contacts. This organization ensures you’re financially prepared and well-connected, enhancing the ease and comfort of your travel nursing experience.

6. Electronics:

Electronics are essential tools for travel nurses, enabling connectivity, organization, and productivity during assignments. Key devices to pack include a smartphone and laptop, along with their chargers. Your smartphone keeps you connected personally and professionally, while your laptop is crucial for managing schedules, documentation, and personal affairs. Don’t forget necessary cables and any specialized gadgets you require for work or leisure. Ensure your devices are updated and equipped with necessary apps before departure, facilitating a seamless experience during your travel nursing assignments.

7. Travel adapters:

Travel adapters are crucial accessories for travel nurses, ensuring compatibility between your electronic devices and the local power supply in different regions or countries. Research the plug types and voltage standards of your assignment location and acquire the necessary adapters to guarantee your devices can be safely connected. Universal travel adapters accommodating multiple plug types are a practical choice for covering various destinations. By packing the right travel adapters, you ensure your electronics function seamlessly, enhancing your experience during travel nursing assignments.

8. Travel-sized laundry detergent:

Travel-sized laundry detergent is a practical item for travel nurses, ensuring you can manage your clothing, including scrubs, efficiently during your assignment. It’s especially useful for quick and convenient washing when you have long shifts or encounter unexpected stains. Opt for environmentally friendly and hypoallergenic options to care for your clothing and skin. Including travel-sized laundry detergent in your packing guarantees you can maintain hygiene and cleanliness, prolong the life of your attire, and have fresh scrubs for your healthcare duties.

9. Travel-sized iron and ironing board:

Travel-sized irons and ironing boards are essential tools for travel nurses to keep their professional attire, including scrubs and uniforms, wrinkle-free and presentable. These compact and portable options offer convenience while effectively removing wrinkles, ensuring you project a polished and professional image in healthcare settings. They are particularly valuable when you have limited laundry access or need to freshen up your clothing between shifts. Including these items in your packing list ensures you make a positive impression on colleagues, patients, and employers during your travel nursing assignment.


1. Bedding:

Packing your own bedding, such as sheets, a pillow, or a comfortable blanket, can enhance your comfort and sense of home during your travel nursing assignment. It allows you to create a customized sleep environment tailored to your preferences, ensuring better rest and well-being. Consider the climate of your assignment location and housing specifics when selecting bedding items. Personal bedding items offer added comfort and familiarity, helping you feel more at ease and well-rested, ready for your nursing responsibilities during your travel nursing assignment.

2. Cooking essentials:

Bringing cooking essentials, such as kitchen utensils, knives, and a can opener, can be a practical choice for travel nurses who plan to cook during their assignment. These tools enhance convenience and efficiency in meal preparation when you have access to a kitchen in your housing. Consider your typical recipes and pack the utensils needed for those dishes, allowing you to enjoy homemade meals that align with your dietary preferences and save on dining expenses during your travel nursing assignment.

3. Reusable water bottle:

A reusable water bottle is a vital item for travel nurses, promoting hydration during demanding nursing shifts and contributing to sustainability by reducing the use of disposable plastic bottles. It ensures easy access to water throughout the day, supporting optimal performance and well-being. When choosing a water bottle, consider its size, material, and ease of cleaning to suit your needs. Overall, including a reusable water bottle in your essentials is a simple yet impactful way to prioritize both personal health and environmental responsibility during your travel nursing assignments.

4. Travel-sized sewing kit:

A travel-sized sewing kit is a practical and valuable item for travel nurses. It includes essential sewing tools like needles, thread, small scissors, and safety pins, allowing for quick and efficient clothing repairs. This kit is particularly handy for addressing minor wardrobe malfunctions, such as loose buttons, small tears, or adjustments to clothing fit. It ensures that you can maintain a professional and well-groomed appearance during your nursing shifts, reducing stress and inconvenience. Packing a sewing kit is a small yet essential addition to your travel nursing essentials.

5. Entertainment:

Packing entertainment options, such as books, e-readers, or materials for hobbies, is a thoughtful addition to your travel nursing preparations. Downtime is an opportunity to relax and recharge, and having these forms of entertainment on hand can make these moments more enjoyable. Consider your personal interests and preferences when selecting entertainment items, ensuring they align with your hobbies or reading habits. These options promote work-life balance and contribute to a more well-rounded and fulfilling experience during your travel nursing assignments.

6. Travel guidebooks and maps:

Travel guidebooks and maps are valuable resources for travel nurses looking to explore and make the most of their assignment locations. Guidebooks provide insights into local attractions, dining options, and cultural events, helping you plan enjoyable outings during your free time. Maps, whether physical or digital, are essential for navigating unfamiliar areas, finding healthcare facilities, and discovering nearby neighborhoods. These resources enable you to immerse yourself in the local culture and surroundings, enhancing your travel nursing experience by exploring and enjoying the region during your assignments.

Packing Efficiently for Your Travel Nursing Assignments

Packing Efficiently for Your Travel Nursing Assignments

Now that you have your packing checklist, let’s explore some tips on how to pack efficiently:

1. Roll, Don’t Fold:

Roll your clothes instead of folding them. This not only saves space but also minimizes wrinkles.

2. Pack Versatile Pieces:

Opt for clothing that can mix and match easily. Neutral colors and basics can be paired in various combinations, reducing the number of clothes you need.

3. Travel-Size Toiletries:

Purchase travel-sized toiletries or use refillable travel containers to save space in your luggage.

4. Pack by Function:

Group items together by function. Keep your work-related items separate from leisure clothing and personal items.

5. Utilize Packing Cubes:

These handy organizers can help compartmentalize your suitcase and keep items organized.

6. Limit Shoes:

Shoes can take up a significant amount of space. Bring a maximum of three pairs: one for work, one for everyday wear, and one for exercise.

7. Layer Clothing:

If you’re traveling to a destination with varying climates, layering is your friend. Bring lightweight, versatile layers that can adapt to temperature changes.

8. Plan for Laundry:

You won’t need to pack as much if you plan to do laundry regularly. Consider the availability of laundry facilities at your housing.

9. Leave Room for Souvenirs:

If you’re tempted by local souvenirs, leave some space in your suitcase for those special finds.

10. Stay Organized:

Use ziplock bags or packing cubes to keep smaller items like socks and underwear organized and easy to find.

11. Weigh Your Luggage:

Be mindful of weight limits for luggage, especially if you’re flying. Overweight bags can result in costly fees.

12. Check the Weather:

Before you leave, check the weather forecast for your assignment location. This will help you pack appropriately and avoid unnecessary items.

Credit to: Travel Nurse Source

Packing efficiently for your travel nursing assignments is a skill that will make your life on the road more comfortable and enjoyable. With the right packing checklist and these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on your next adventure with confidence. Safe travels and happy nursing!

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