How to (Not) Pack for Three Months: A Travel Nurse’s Life

So I’ve been waaaay out of circulation on Word Press for what seems like an eternity to me. As some of you have known, I have been so busy with preparing for our new gypsy lifestyle. In between emails, phone calls, getting documents ready, doctor’s and lab appointments, online tests, house related errands, blah, blah, blah…. I temporarily lost all interest in my blog for the past few days. For a few very brief moments though, I get this sudden spark of inspiration but then when I go sit in front of my computer (which is now in our new temporary home), my mind goes blank.

Our last day of work was the first day of our new lives, as travel nurses. Although this isn’t exactly my first rodeo as my very first travel assignment was in Connecticut last year, I still consider myself as a newbie. There is still SO much to learn in the travel nursing world, from knowing the difference between a good and a GREAT recruiter to learning to negotiate for your pay package, from dealing with home sickness to mastering the art of packing your belongings for thirteen weeks.

And this is where I start. I had to “force” myself to sit down tonight and write. Otherwise, I’d get lazy again. So, how do you pack for 13 weeks?

1. Make a list of things to do with a travel timeline. With everything else that is going on, there is something bound to be forgotten if you don’t write it down. I cannot emphasize this enough. It is hard to just wing it. My dad always said “the shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.” Wise words they are and I have this advice etched into my brain forever.

2. Divide your belongings into seven groups (or more depending on what else you think you need): regular clothing, work clothing, house/kitchen stuff, personal items, medications/first aid, documents, hobbies/interests

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3. Utilize those huge plastic storage bins or cubes. They really come in handy here. Easy to organize your belongings (see #2 above) plus if you have the see through kind, you know right away whats inside. Once you get to your new temporary home, you can use them as drawers or more storage or even as table tops!

4. We like to use the travel cubes or packing cubes. We just started using them last year for our trips and they made packing and organizing so much easier! Who doesn’t love an organized suitcase or a backpack? You can also fit more clothes in your bag. The secret is in the rolling.

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5. Stuff your shoes with socks (the more shoes you have, the more socks you can bring. haha!). And if you’re like us who brought along our rice cooker, juicer and crockpot, then stuff them with little knick knacks too, i.e., spices, condiments.

6. Try NOT to bring your desktop and your printer. HAH! I know, I know. It’s MY desktop while hubby has his laptop. I have all my precious photos (apart from other important docs) saved here so until we find a smaller and more portable alternate this will have to do.

7. Hopefully, your hobbies and/or interests involve small and manageable items. If they are anything big and bulky (like bikes and the gear involved), then make sure you have the space in your car and that you secure them well.

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8. Don’t wait to have your clothes or your scrubs altered the day BEFORE you leave. It’ll give you more stress running all over town looking for someone who can alter it for you and have it done on the same day. Or better yet, don’t attempt to do it yourself if YOU HAVE NO CLUE how to make a decent running stitch with your bare hands!

9. Start packing, REALLY packing at least one day before you leave. Cramming everything the last minute makes it more exciting! 

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10. Make sure you have already prepared a list of things you need to do before leaving home. Turn off water, heater, check security alarms, etc. Have friends come over once in awhile to visually check on your home and its perimeters.

11. Lastly, bring in a positive attitude, a dash of flexibility, sprinkled generously with an adventurous spirit and huge doses of prayers.

This list is not exclusive. There are tons more we forgot to do or need to improve on the next time. Trial and error is the name of the game. Important thing is we arrived to our destination safely. Time to unpack and start a new life!

Stay tuned for my weekly travel nurse stories!

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