Showing up to a new travel nurse assignment can at times, be quite terrifying. Not only do you not know what awaits you at work, but you also might be brand new to the city you’ve just moved to. You may have never visited before, you might not know anyone; this combined with the stress of starting a new travel nurse assignment can take a major toll on your mental health. But for those of us who choose to pursue a career in travel nursing, we know that all of that anxiety is worth it just to experience a new place for a short period. So, how do you quickly acclimate to your new travel nurse home to ensure that you’re making the most out of your 13+ weeks?
5 Tips for Acclimating to Your New Travel Nurse Home
As a new travel nurse, I oftentimes felt paralyzed by the fear of the unknown. Not only was I beyond anxious about work, but I was also anxious about being in a new city. As time went on, I was able to acclimate quicker and quicker, and each assignment felt easier than the last. These are my tips so that you too can avoid the stress and anxiety that comes with moving around, and instead focus on enjoying the journey that you’re on.
1. Do Your Research
Before showing up in your new city, do your research. What is it that you like to do? Make a list of three things you love and that you’d love to discover in your new home. For instance, my list would be 1. Wine, 2. Food, 3. Outdoor attractions. I then research all three of these subjects in depth before I arrive in a new city. When I arrive, I already know every wine bar I want to visit, every restaurant I want to eat at, and all of the outdoor attractions that I want to go to. Your list might look different! And that’s okay, just focus on what you love and go from there.
Now that you have your list made, how do you do the research? I find the most success using Pinterest and Google. I make sure to be specific when using both of these search engines by putting in keywords such as, “best wine bars in Seattle”, or “Asian food in San Francisco”. If I’m using Google specifically, I make sure to start on page 10 and work my way to page one – the best information isn’t always on the first page of the search engine.
Lastly, read blogs! I have a list of my favorite bloggers and I always go to their blogs and type in my destination to see if they have any fun recommendations for the city I’m moving to.
2. Learn to Be Comfortable Exploring Alone
If you’re travel nursing alone, you have to learn how to be comfortable exploring alone. Chances are you’ll meet friends along the way, but until you do you’ll be on your own. Don’t waste those precious few weeks waiting to meet someone else to go out and explore with. Instead, learn to be comfortable by yourself and go out and do things that you want to do whether or not you have someone else to do them with. It might be uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it the less awkward it will feel. You’d hate to leave your assignment and think, “I never got to do XYZ because I was too scared to do it alone”. And remember, if you feel embarrassed – nobody has ever died from embarrassment so you’ll get over it eventually.
3. Reach Out to Others
Before getting to your new home, I highly recommend reaching out to others who have been there first! Ask them for help navigating your new home, ask them what their favorite things to do are if they have any friends that they could set you up within the city. While I highly encourage and recommend exploring alone, it’s still a great thing to ask for help from others to save you some time and maximize your opportunity to get to know your new city.
Once I start work I also like to ask the other nurses on the unit for recommendations. Remember, they are locals so they should know the best things around, plus it’s a good way to strike up a conversation and see if you have anything in common with any of them.
If you’re going somewhere where you don’t know anyone who’s already been, I highly recommend joining Facebook groups. If you’re going to a city that is popular amongst travel nurses, there is almost always a Facebook group for travel nurses in that city. Just search “Travel Nurse Seattle” (city of choice), and there will usually be a group you can join.
For more ways to connect on Facebook, don’t miss: 10 Facebook Groups to Join if You Are or Want to Be a Travel Nurse
4. Lean into the Scary Parts
You heard me – LEAN INTO THE SCARY PARTS. This travel nurse life is anything but comfortable and to stick with it you’re going to need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. There are a lot of scary aspects to this industry… the unknowns of your new job, not knowing anyone, not being familiar with the hospital, not being familiar with your new city. Embrace all of this messiness and learn to enjoy the journey that you’re on. After all, you’ve become a travel nurse for a reason and no profession is all rainbows and butterflies. The sooner that you accept the scary parts of this industry, the sooner you can learn to love them too.
5. Put Down Roots
This may go against what you’re thinking, but it’s okay to put down some roots even if you’re transient! The cities that I’ve enjoyed the most were the ones that I invested my time in. I joined a church group, volunteered to help with the homeless population, and so on. The cities that I didn’t love were the ones that I told myself, “You’re only here for 13-weeks… no reason to get attached”. So while putting down roots makes it hard to leave, it also enhances your experience tenfold. Plus, it’s a great way to make friends and meet other people.
More great ways to put down roots in your new city are joining a league (kickball, volleyball, etc.), join a running club/hiking club/rock-climbing club, or even look up “Airbnb Experiences” and use that platform to go on tours led by locals. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, make sure to use my referral code for a first-time discount!
If you’re reading this post and you’re feeling lost in your new travel nurse home, put on a brave face and get out there and do something you love. And if you’re a new travel nurse/in the process of becoming a travel nurse then remember to hold on tight, lean into the scary parts, and enjoy the ride!
I’ve been a travel nurse in seven cities now. Here are some in-depth guides to help guide your travels while you maximize your time in your new, temporary, home…