With the frightening pandemic well underway, I don’t foresee being able to travel from the United States (internationally) for quite a long time in the future. More alarming than the increase in coronavirus cases throughout the world, is the thought that this pandemic… might not be the last. There is a chance that we will live through another pandemic in our lifetime. Which means sheltering at home, sustaining from travel, and social distancing from friends and family. As a travel nurse who thrives on traveling, I have to wonder… how does one cope as a travel nurse when you can’t travel?
I’ve spent 3+ months “safe at home”, while the world stood still. Stuck in a strange parallel between normal and abnormal, my life at work continued per usual while my life at home came to a standstill. Having built my life around a career that would allow me ample time to travel, I often found myself wondering, is this all worth it? Sacrificing times with friends and family as I move around the country every 13-weeks. Packing up over and over only to rip the roots out of the ground that I may have laid down in my short time in each city. What is the benefit to travel nursing if you can’t actually travel?
How to Cope As a Travel Nurse Who Can’t Travel
While I sit at home, upset about all of the international trips I have canceled… I am also looking forward to the future of travel. I’m looking forward to that day when I can get on an airplane again, sans facemask, and fly over the deep blue ocean in search of a new culture, new people, and a new atmosphere. While travel isn’t feasible right now, I do believe that we will come through this stronger than ever, and travel will be as ever-present in our lives as it once was. But for the time being, these are the ways that I’ve learned to cope as a travel nurse who can’t travel.
1. Listen to Travel Podcasts
One of my favorite ways to cure my wanderlust is by listening to travel podcasts. Get transported to a dreamy destination all from the convenience of your phone as you cook, go on a walk, or drive in your car. Not only does listening to a travel podcast cure your sense of wanderlust, but it’s a great tool to learn about other travelers and destinations that you may want to visit in the future. My favorite travel podcasts to listen to include Travel with Rick Steves, Twin Perspectives, and The Globetrotter Lounge. (Pst… I was featured in The Globetrotter Lounge podcast talking all things travel and nursing! Click here to listen to the episode).
2. Watch Travel TV Shows/Movies
Another great way to cure your wanderlust from home is to watch travel-related television shows and movies! Unlike podcasts, travel shows give you a great visual of a destination. I also like to watch travel-related FOOD shows and movies. These types of shows give you a great sense of culture and community as food brings people together. Some of my favorite “cure your wanderlust” TV shows include Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Street Food, and Taste the Nation. Some of my favorite travel movies include The Hundred-Foot Journey, Letters to Juliet, Eat Pray Love, Under the Tuscan Sun, and Mama Mia.
3. Save For Your Next Trip
While you’re “safe at home”, now is the time to be saving for your next big trip! The great thing about travel nursing is that when your contract ends, you can book a trip anywhere you want and take off as much time as you want. When you’re stuck at home, you aren’t spending as much money as you are when you’re not stuck at home. Take this time to build a hefty travel savings account so that when it’s safe to travel again… you can.
4. Learn a New Hobby
While listening to podcasts, watching movies, and saving for your next trip gives you something to look forward to… it may not capture your interest for long. Take this time, while you’re not traveling, to learn a new hobby! Learn to speak the language of a country you want to travel to. Learn how to cook cuisine from one of your favorite countries. Learn photography to capture your next destination, or do something random like learn how to rollerblade! Now, with extra time on your hands, is a good time to learn something new and expand your horizons.
5. Make a “Travel” List
And finally, make an extensive “travel” list of countries that you want to visit once the pandemic ends. Research these places endlessly so that when the time comes to book a flight, you’re ready to go. My favorite way to research travel is by reading books or reading podcasts. I often find myself buying Rick Steve’s book on Amazon or reading my favorite blogs: The Blonde Abroad and World of Wanderlust. Better yet, as a nurse who has the potential to take 8 days off in a row without needing any PTO, you might find yourself interested in an “8 Day Vacay”. Read all of my ideas for an “8 Day Vacay” here. (If you’ve never heard of the “8 Day Vacay”, start with this post).
While it can be frustrating as people who have built their lives around travel are forced to stay at home, I encourage you to take this time to relax, breathe, and map out your next moves. It’s only in times like this that you can take a look inwards and decide what is truly of value to you. Nurture these things and before you know it, the world will be back to normal again.
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