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Navigating the “Travel” in Travel Nursing: 9 Things Every Travel Nurse Should Know Before Hitting the Road

9 Essential Tips to Navigate the World of Travel Nursing Before Embarking on Your Adventure

Traveling for work doesn’t have to be complicated or break the bank, but wading through the endless Google search results that claim to be the quick answer to scoring five-star accommodations at virtually no expense can make you feel like booking a one-way trip to the nearest anger management class.    

Empty promises aside, the good news is traveling to and from your travel nursing destination can be a painless (and dare we say, maybe even enjoyable) experience. We always enjoy the opportunity to assist our new travel nurses with their travel questions, so we’ve gathered these tried-and-true tips from the most seasoned travelers on our team to help more nurses like you navigate travel accommodations like a pro!

 

1. Choose a facility in a location you’re familiar with

This is an especially good approach if you’re new to travel nursing (or traveling in general). This can be a city within a few hours of where you live, your old hometown, near your alma mater, etc. If you have the urge to travel somewhere totally new, consider areas your friends or family members live or are familiar with – they are probably the best resource for knowledge or candid advice about the area. If you do end up working in a city with friends or family nearby, make a point to visit them!

 

2. Use the buddy system

Traveling in pairs or small groups has lots of advantages – safety, cheaper living expenses, and companionship just to name a few. If you are lucky enough to have a nursing colleague you can see yourself rooming with for a few months, encourage them to take an assignment during the same time/area as yours. If that isn’t the case, consider traveling with a friend whose job or lifestyle allows them the flexibility to travel with you. Learn more about earning extra cash for you and your friends with our travel nurse referral program.

 

3. Get a “lay of the land” before settling down

Consider booking a short-term housing situation (e.g., an extended stay hotel or short-term VRBO rental) for the first week or so of your assignment. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it goes a long way in preventing you from rushing into a rental lease or putting down a hefty deposit before you’ve had a chance to familiarize yourself with the area or see the rental property firsthand.

 

4. Think critically when choosing your housing & transportation

Choose carefully and be honest with yourself when booking your long-term housing for your travel assignment. Ask yourself what makes the most sense given the commute to the facility, your shift schedule, and your normal living habits. For example, staying in an apartment in the middle of the city because it’s close to the hospital might be great – however, street noise or ongoing construction projects during the day may prevent your much-needed sleep if you’re working nights if you tend to be a light sleeper. You may not always find the “perfect” place that checks all your boxes with every assignment, but weighing these pros and cons carefully will go a long way in securing a place you’re comfortable and happy to put your feet up at the end of a long shift.

 

5. Do a “dry run” of your trip

For both your new destination from home AND your daily commute to the facility. If the location of your travel assignment is too far away or just isn’t feasible ahead of time, do a virtual dry run using Google Maps or Waze to find your ideal route and backup routes. Drive to the facility where you’ll be working at least once before your first day there – doing so at the same times you’re scheduled to work gives you a peek into the local traffic flow during those times.

 

6. Get your home affairs in order

Create a solid plan for what will happen with your pets, utilities, home upkeep, mail delivery, subscription deliveries, etc. at your permanent home while you’re away.

 

7. Pack smart

Consider packing your most basic daily essentials (including everything you’ll need for your first shift) in a separate bag that is easily accessible to you throughout your trip. If you’re flying, definitely keep all these essentials in your carry-on bag – if your luggage gets delayed or lost, you’ll at least have your essentials.

Pro tip: Take pictures of all checked luggage, including the contents inside. Doing this quick step ahead of time usually expedites the process of the airline either finding your bags or reimbursing you for the loss.

 

8. Ignore the common travel myths

You’ve probably heard and perhaps believed most of the so-called “fare hacks”, especially since most of them seem to make sense on the surface. We have some news for you – Tuesdays are not necessarily the cheapest day to fly, at least not anymore. The algorithms airlines use to set ticket prices have become much smarter and more complex than that. To get the best deals on plane tickets and other travel accommodations, you’re better off staying somewhat flexible. Your willingness or ability to make slight adjustments to your exact travel dates, allowing for trips with connecting flights vs. nonstop, etc. do way more to minimize your travel expenses. Taking advantage of your credit card’s travel rewards or travel points can also save you a lot of money, especially if you travel frequently.

  • Google Flights One of the best flight search engines out there, Google Flights lets you enter your departure airport and see flights all over the world on a map so you can see where the cheapest destination is.
  • Hopper – Download the Hopper app to your phone to search flight, hotel & rental car deals and set the lowest price alerts for upcoming trips. Also lets you freeze the lowest fares/hotel rates for a small fee so you can secure the lowest price, but pay later.
  • Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) –
  • Airfarewatchdog – Great for domestic flight deals. Searches multiple travel websites to get the best of the already discounted trip deals.

 

9. Take advantage of travel points & rewards programs

As we mentioned above, there are a variety of credit cards with competitive travel points programs, cash back on travel-related purchases, or both. Most major hotels and car rental services also offer their own rewards programs allowing you to earn free stays, libations, meals, and other perks. ThePointsGuy.com is a great resource for travel news, tips, and side-by-side comparisons of credit cards and travel rewards programs.

 

Get in Touch Today!

 

>> Ready to hit the road? Click to find your next travel nursing destination today!

>> Personal safety is one compromise you should never make while traveling. Check out our Travel Safety Tips to ensure you travel smart AND safe.