Ultimate Travel Nurse Packing List & Essential Guide

Last Updated on May 15, 2024

a smiling woman making a travel nurse packing list and sitting in front of a blue suitcase of essentials for her travel assignment

Got your travel nurse packing list? As a travel nurse, you’re ready to choose your own adventure. You can’t wait to work and play hard, spending your days off exploring a new city, meeting new people, and capturing new memories. 

You’re counting down the days until you can access the personal and professional growth that comes with travel nursing jobs. But first, you must know the essentials on what to bring along!

Not sure where to start? In this in-depth guide, we’ll lay out all the travel nursing essentials, including your ultimate travel nurse packing list.

Tips for Moving to a New Area: Travel Nursing Essentials

Before you pull out your suitcase, take the time to strategize your travel nurse packing list. You don’t want to overpack or under-pack. You want to start off your new adventure on the right foot. To do so, keep these strategies in mind as you prepare your travel nurse packing list:

a diagram with green background with a list explaining packing essentials for travel nursing assignments, including research the weather, find out what you don't need, organization starts with packing, and don't stress

#1: Research the Climate of the Area

Travel Nursing Essentials 101: Pack for your specific travel nurse location, not where you live now. Take time to explore the climate of the area you’re moving to. 

Use your research skills to find the monthly weather averages, taking into account the highs and lows of each season. Depending on how long you’ll be there, make sure you pack for cold weather, warm weather, and everything in between.

#2: Learn What You Don’t Need on Your Travel Nurse Packing List

Pack with a minimalistic mindset — your future self will thank you later! When putting together your travel nurse packing list, remember that some accommodations may come ready with furniture, cookware, and more (also known as “turnkey properties”).  However, others may be a clean slate. 

Based upon the location, your travel nurse recruiter is also a great resource to know what essentials may be best to have during your assignment. By knowing what you do and don’t need, you can narrow down the travel nursing essentials.

Pro Tip: Remember to pack what you may need for specific nursing shifts, such as night time or 12-hour shifts.

#3: Organization Starts with Packing

Planning on organizing once you get there? Save yourself time and stress by organizing as you pack. Use packing cubes or other organizers to separate and label your travel nursing essentials. This will make it easier to check off your travel nurse packing list and take the work out of the unpacking process.

#4: Don’t Stress – You Can Usually Buy Items There

Worried about getting everything on your travel nurse packing list?  Focus on the travel nursing essentials. Depending on your location,  you can usually buy items like toiletries, houseware, and cleaning supplies once you arrive at your new destination. 

Remember: The more you pack, the more you’ll have to carry to your destination!

Travel Nurse Packing List: Travel Nursing Essentials

Have your suitcase ready? Let’s get started! Use this travel nurse packing list to help you succeed:

Clothing

We’ll start with your closet! After researching the climate of your area, bring a balanced mix of:

  • Casualwear (shirts, pants, and shoes)
  • “Going out” outfits (dresses, button-down shirts, pants/slacks, and shoes)
  • Gym clothes and athletic shoes
  • Pajamas
  • Undergarments and socks
  • Accessories, jewelry, and hats.

Travel Nursing Essentials for Work

This is one of the most important aspects of your travel nurse packing list for job success. Make sure you have everything you need for your role. Reach out to your new nursing manager or recruiter to learn if there are any unique requirements for scrubs or supplies:

  • Scrubs 
  • Comfortable nursing shoes
  • Stethoscope
  • Pens and penlights
  • Nursing scissors
  • Lunch bag and portable water bottle

Paperwork

Are your documents ready? Work with your dedicated recruiter to ensure you have all the travel nursing essentials, such as your:

  • Signed travel nursing contract
  • Nursing license, certification(s), and other requested documents
  • New employee handbook
  • Contact information for your nursing manager and recruiter
  • Information for your housing
  • Driver’s license, insurance, and registration
  • Social Security card and birth certificate

Kitchen & Housewares Travel Nurse Packing List

If your housing doesn’t come with cookware, take some time to determine what kitchen supplies you do (and don’t) use on a regular basis. Stick with the basic travel nursing essentials, such as:

  • 1 pot 
  • 1 pan
  • Cutlery
  • Utensils 
  • Mugs and glasses
  • Dish towels 
  • Dish soap
  • Coffee pot and/or tea kettle
  • Laundry basket (throw other items in it to make use of the space!)

Pro Tip: Want to get better at cooking healthy meals as a travel nurse? Read this article for 5 Healthy Tips for Travel Nurses!

Travel Nurse Packing List: Personal Care

Next up on your travel nurse packing list: Personal care items. To pack extra light, consider setting a “budget baseline.” If a bulky item costs $X or less, buy it once you get there instead of packing it. This is especially applicable to general personal care items you can easily find at a local store. 

Use this list to help get the process started:

  • Towels and hand towels
  • Shower supplies (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, grooming supplies)
  • Hair supplies (brushes, styling tools, hair ties)
  • Oral hygiene supplies (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash)
  • Makeup
  • Skincare (lotions, chapstick)
  • Hand soap
  • Glasses and/or contacts
  • Prescriptions and medications
  • First aid kit (no travel nurse goes without one, right?)

Electronics

Don’t forget your favorite devices, such as your:

  • Phone
  • Laptop/computer
  • Headphones
  • Chargers

Entertainment

Remember: You won’t be working 24/7 during your 13 weeks! Let this move refresh your sense of work-life balance by bringing a hobby with you:

  • Books
  • Games or puzzles
  • Yoga mat
  • Journal
  • Art or craft supplies
  • Sports or outdoor equipment

Travel Nurse Packing List: A Piece of Home

As you embrace the new adventure ahead, make the transition smooth by bringing a piece of home with you. This can warm up your new space and allow you to truly make yourself at home. Consider bringing your favorite:

  • Small framed photo, artwork, or decor
  • Small houseplant
  • Coffee mug
  • Pillow
  • Blanket

Pro Tip: Bringing your pet on assignment? Don’t forget the essentials for your furry friend!

Your Essential Guide For Travel Nursing Jobs

Your new adventure awaits! Get connected to travel nursing jobs with CareerStaff Unlimited. We have a variety of travel career opportunities nationwide in travel nursing and allied healthcare, including positions with top pay and benefits. 

Explore your next travel adventure, or quick apply today to get connected with your dedicated travel nursing recruiter and start your new journey!

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