Travel nursing is many things, but my favorite thing about it is that it is downright FUN. Exploring new cities, making new friends, and getting new opportunities to dive into a new restaurant scene or going out scene makes for an exciting assignment. In my experience, the more “fun” I had as a travel nurse, the more unhealthy I felt. After years of taking new assignments and letting my health slip little by little, (first I stopped going to church and regularly seeing a therapist, then my eating habits, and lastly my activity level), once I felt like crap, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and started to prioritize my health. What I learned was that I could have just as much fun travel nursing and I could still take care of myself. Below you’ll find the best tips to prioritize your help, what to do in a snap, and how to still have fun as a travel nurse.
Before reading further, please know that healthy looks different for everyone. This post is not to shame anyone or make anyone feel bad. It’s a post to encourage you to prioritize your health – body, mind, and spirit. It is not a post about weight loss and there is certainly no “one size fits all” when it comes to being healthy.
How to Stay Healthy As a Travel Nurse
Before getting to the good stuff, start by taking inventory of where your life used to be and where your life is now. If you’re a seasoned travel nurse reading this and wondering, “How did I get so out of shape”?, I encourage you to write down how your life looked before you began travel nursing. Map out your activities, how often you would eat out, how often you’d go out, and start thinking about how different your life currently looks. By doing this you might easily be able to find a way to get back to feeling healthy without having to make any major life changes! If you’re a new travel nurse and worried about not staying healthy, make a list of your current activity level, eating habits, etc, and keep it with you to reference if things ever do get out of hand.
Start Prioritizing Your Health
When you get to a new assignment and all you want to do is try new restaurants and visit new breweries (hello, who doesn’t want to do that?), remember – you have 13 weeks to do this! Instead of going ham and eating out every night pick a couple of nights a week to venture out. If you find that some weeks you’re eating out more, maybe you’ll prioritize cooking extra clean at home the following week.
Aside from the eating and drinking aspect, another way to stay feeling good about yourself is exercising. Figure out how you like to move your body best. Do you like to walk? Map out good walking areas in your neighborhood. Do you like to do yoga? Find a good yoga studio nearby. However you feel best about yourself, do that!
Maybe you’re a religious/spiritual person and you feel your absolute best when you’re engaged in church, when you’ve joined a bible study, or you’re seeing a therapist. Prioritize these things in your life, making them “non-negotiables”.
As someone who began travel nursing with the intention of, “Well I’m not here very long there’s no point in getting involved in a church or finding a gym. And I want to try allllll of the new restaurants”, things took a toll and my health began to waver. After realizing travel nursing wasn’t going anywhere, I decided to take control and despite moving around, began acting like I was more of a “permanent” resident instead of a “temporary” resident. I started going to church again, seeing a therapist, I found a yoga studio, and still ate out but was pickier when I went out and where I went.
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Tips for Planning Ahead
The easiest way to stay healthy is to plan ahead. Do some research and map out the very top restaurants that you want to visit. Know that they are on your list and make it a priority to try them instead of eating at mediocre places nearby. I also suggest researching out gyms/therapists/churches/etc if those are the things that make you feel at your best and most healthy self.
Another great way to prioritize your health on assignments is to plan your grocery list ahead of time. You never want to be in such a pinch that your only option is to run to the cafeteria at work and eat pizza. One – because usually, the pizza isn’t even good. And two – because there are probably much better pizza places around the city that would be much more rewarding to eat at instead!
The things that I like to look up ahead of time are yoga studios, running paths, hair salons, nail salons, therapists, and nearby churches. Then when I arrive at my assignment, I hit the ground running! I also like to pick up to 13 “must-try” bars and restaurants – one for each week I’m on assignment. This does not mean that I can’t go out more often, but when I have a goal of places I want to go to, I get less sidetracked and can decline invitations that don’t sound as appetizing. Or I’m able to suggest a place that I’ve been dying to try! Win-win.
Having “Fun” As a Travel Nurse
Most importantly, have fun! Don’t be so rigid that you’re staying home instead of going out when asked. You chose to become a travel nurse for a reason, and while money may play a big role in your decision, I doubt that that was the only reason you started travel nursing. If you fall off the bandwagon, get back on. Cut yourself some slack, and just do better next time! No sweat.
What are some tips that you follow to stay healthy as a travel nurse? What areas do you struggle in? Let me know in the comments below!
If you’re looking for some travel nursing inspiration, check out these posts:
The Best Places to Be a Travel Nurse
10 Pieces of Advice for New Travel Nurses
The Ultimate Travel Nurse Bucket List