How NOT to Pack for Your First Travel Nurse Assignment

How NOT to Pack For Your First Travel Nurse Assignment
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Picture this… packing up years of belongings into one car, and driving out to California.  13-weeks later packing up those same belongings again, into one car and, driving to Arizona.  13-weeks later packing up those same belongings AGAIN, into one car, and driving to Austin.  Then packing up those exact same belongings once again to drive to Seattle.  Exhausting, right?  I’ve been there, done that, and have now mastered the art of how to pack for your travel nurse assignment.


Are you planning on driving from assignment to assignment?  If so, make sure to read:


And if you’re not planning to bring a car to your assignment, don’t miss:


How to Pack for Your Travel Nurse Assignment – I Need My Crockpot… Right?

After I got the call that I would be taking a travel nurse assignment in sunny Santa Barbara, CA I rushed home beyond excited.  I told my parents that I was moving out and started thinking about all that I would need in my new apartment.  Crockpot?  Of course!  Coffee mugs, sure!  10 winter coats… why not?… It’s not like it’s 90 degrees all year round in Santa Barbara (palm to face).  Oh and don’t forget those magnets that I’ve spent years collecting!  I definitely need those magnets.  And all of the letters I’ve accumulated throughout my 27 years on Earth.  What if I get lonely and want to read them?

Against my parent’s advice, that’s exactly what I did.  Packed up EVERYTHING (besides furniture) that I owned into my KIA Sportage.  My car was so jammed pack that I could hardly see out the windows.  Boxes piled up.  Clothes were strewn out everywhere.  High heels poking through garbage bags.  I smiled, satisfied that I managed to fit everything in, and thought, “Can’t wait to use my crockpot when I arrive!”


The More I Traveled from Assignment to Assignment, the More Stressed I Became

The more travel assignments I started to take, the more I started to stress out.  But I’ll have to pack my car again?  It didn’t occur to me until contract #7 that I didn’t have to haul ALL of my belongings all over the United States.  Once I realized that there is beauty in minimalism and that I could buy (gasp) anything that I forgot at home, is when I started to enjoy this travel nurse life.


So What Should You Pack for Your Travel Nurse Assignment?

So how do you pack to ensure a seamless transition into the world of travel nursing?  Take the necessities and what’s important to you.  I realized that if I were to get dressed every day (that I wasn’t working), I would only need to bring 52 days worth of clothes.  Less than two months.  When I put that into perspective my suitcases became a whole lot lighter.

I also realized that there were some things I couldn’t go without and if I were to buy them, it wouldn’t be the same.  For instance my bible and yoga mat.  Figure out what those things are to you and bring them along.  If they don’t get used on your first travel nurse assignment, ship them right back home.


Now that I am two years into the world of travel nursing I finally feel like I have it figured out.  Before I headed out to Boston, on my seventh travel nurse assignment, I felt lighter.  I managed to fit all I needed for a 13-week contract into two boxes and shipped them ahead of me.  I realized that the fun is in exploring a new city and meeting new people.  Not surrounded by materialistic things.  And certainly not by packing my car up every 13-weeks.

And no… I never used that darn crockpot.


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Kylee is a NICU nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee has been a NICU nurse for 9 years and a travel nurse for 7 years. Since starting her career in travel nursing, she’s worked in six different states, 10 different hospitals, volunteered as a nurse in North Macedonia, worked as a nurse in Saudi Arabia, and has traveled to 45+ countries. Her favorite travel nurse assignment was in Seattle and her favorite destination is Georgia (the country). Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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