One of the most intimidating things about being a travel nurse isn’t the start of a new job. It isn’t learning new policies and getting to know new providers. And it also isn’t getting to know a new city. Although all of that gives me anxiety no matter how many times I move and no matter how many contracts I complete! More often than not what brings me the most fear as I move from one city to the next is the thought of making new friends again and again. Especially when you’re looked at as a transient part of the community. How do you get people to invest time in you and actually get to know you?
While I’ve felt lonely at times living this travel lifestyle, I still wouldn’t trade it for anything. Having lived in seven different states in the time since I’ve become a nurse, I’ve still managed to make and keep friendships despite my transient life. And you can too! Below are my go-to tips when moving to a new destination.
Be Active on Social Media
I can’t stress this one enough. There are TONS of resources out there for travel nurses to attend meetups, see who else is living around you, and more! My favorite way to search for what is going on around me is by joining a plethora of Facebook groups. There are groups for just about everything. All you have to do is join and speak up! Once you’re a part of these types of groups ask around and see if anyone wants to hang out, knows anybody else living near you, or any other tips in general.
My favorite Facebook groups include:
Travel Nurse Housing – Although this is strictly about finding housing you can still search the group and find out who will be in the same city as you. (It’s called stalking). Reach out and make a connection!
Your company Facebook group – If your company doesn’t currently have a group make one for them!
Your specialty Facebook group. I’m in NICU Nurses & Travel Nurses… again, if your specialty doesn’t have a group, make one!
Or try searching for the city you’ll be in. For instance, if you’re moving to Seattle you could join the Seattle Travel Nurses group.
Or if you’re looking for a group of nurses specifically focused on travel join my Facebook group! Passports and Preemies Travel Community.
While Facebook groups can introduce you to people you still have to put forth the effort to meet up, etc. It can be intimidating but putting yourself out there could make your assignment that much better. Keep that in mind every time you’re nervous to reach out to someone new.
Figure Out Your Passion Project
Do you like to run? Hike? Perhaps you love being a part of a church community. Before you arrive in a new destination research what you’re interested in. For instance, you could join a running club, rock climbing club, or bible study! You could take photography lessons, cooking classes, and more. Try to do these things right when you arrive so that you can get involved in the community as soon as possible!
Yes, introducing yourself to new people can be awkward and feel embarrassing sometimes. But guess what… if you don’t try to make friends you’re never going to know if you can make friends. There will definitely be some places where you make friends easier than others and some places where you downright feel like you don’t fit in one bit. But don’t give up. Keep putting yourself out there and keep making plans with others. I find this tip particularly useful when dealing with the staff nurses on the floor I’m working on.
Get on MeetUp
Wondering what MeetUp is? It’s a free service organizing meet-ups between people with similar interests. Go out for a day of hiking, spend the night bar hopping, and more! There are events for everyone. All you have to do is sign up, list your interests, and you’ll get notifications of events straight to your inbox!
Get on Bumble (BFF… duh)
No, I don’t mean the dating app Bumble. Bumble offers three different interfaces. One for dating, one for meeting friends, and even a business one! So get on your phone, download the app, switch to the “BFF” interface, and start making friends!
While this may seem obvious, asking around is the easiest way to make friends. If you’re on assignment going to the next, ask other travel nurses if they know of anyone in X destination. Put it out there on your social media channels, even have your friends spread the word! Eventually, someone will know someone wherever you’re going, which makes it easy to meet people!
So my fellow nurses or anyone who is living out that travel lifestyle… what I’ll leave you with is this. It’s awkward and uncomfortable to meet new people every few months. Not everyone will be nice and friendly. And not everyone will like you. And guess what, that is okay. Keep putting yourself out there. Keep being friendly. And don’t let the fear of meeting new people stop you from traveling. It’s a crazy and wild journey, but it’s worth it every step of the way.
Trying to decide whether or not travel nursing is for you? Read: Should You Travel Nurse With Friends or Solo?