The Essential Travel Nursing Packing Guide


You’ve just received an assignment for a new travel nursing job. You’re very excited about it and cannot wait to leave. Now that you’ve filled out all of the paperwork and completed all of your prerequisite interviews, it’s time to think about what you’re going to want to take with you for 13 weeks.

Packing may sound simple enough, but knowing how much to pack, what you should leave behind, and what needs to be sourced makes a huge difference in terms of your trip’s efficiency and ease, as well as how quickly you’re able to settle into your new residence.


Housing Essentials for Travel Nurses

Before you start to pack, have a discussion with your recruiter about what kinds of amenities your complex provides. If you select the standard housing that’s provided by your company, it will only include the basics such as lamps and end tables, a sofa, chairs and a dining table, a nightstand, and a bed.

Because this list varies from place to place, it’s important to figure out what you need to bring with you before you leave. On many occasions, travel nurses need to bring their own dishes, cutlery, cooking utensils, towels, and linens.

Heather Frederick, a recruiter with American Mobile Healthcare, always lets her travel nurses know what their housing will include and exclude. Not all housing complexes are the same. One complex may have the convenience of a microwave, while another complex may not have a microwave at all.

One other option you can choose from is a housing stipend instead of company-provided housing. Your furnishings and amenities will be dependent upon what you’re able to find.

After you know what items will be included in your specified location, you need to make out a list of additional items you might need while you’re on assignment, then check off every item that you pack. This will help you figure out the things you’ll need to buy before you move, ensuring that you won’t forget anything that’s important.

Researching the Climate of Your Destination

One important thing to note while you’re packing is the climate of your destination. If your assignment will have you traveling between several seasons, you should bring layers of clothing with you. Be sure to include coats, t-shirts, jackets, and sweaters that can be added to your wardrobe or easily peeled off when the temperature changes.

The best way to figure out what kind of weather you might encounter during your assignment is to visit trusted sites like AccuWeather or The Weather Channel. These sites will let you research rainfall and seasonal averages for your new destination.

Our “What to Pack” list, which you’ll find at the end of this article, will give you an idea of what kinds of items travel nurses take with them most often for their assignments.

When You Travel Light, You’re Traveling Right

There are travelers who pack light and travelers who wish they had. It might be tempting to pack everything you have. However, people who travel with large loads tend to make moving to another location more time-consuming and difficult.

Frederick says that travel nurses should arrange their items in terms of importance (what they absolutely need for 13 weeks). If a travel nurse cooks a lot, they don’t need to bring all of their cooking utensils with them. A few things will be sufficient enough, and if a nurse is traveling by themselves, they won’t have to bring place settings for too many extra people. The essentials should serve them well.

If a nurse forgets something or wants to supplement their necessities, they can always visit an Ikea, Walmart or Target to pick up things they might need. The items can be donated for tax write-offs after they are finished with their assignment.

Rebeca Segrest, a travel nurse from American Mobile, only packs plain white dishes because they’re easy to replace if something becomes broken.

Travel nurses will rent DVD players or TV sets instead of purchasing them because it’s much easier than bringing those things with them. They can also buy some at a local pawn shop and sell them back when they leave, which keeps packing down to a minimum and saves money in the long run.

How to Feel at Home While on Assignment

You want to feel at ease in your new place as well as feel connected to the places and people you’ll leave behind while you’re traveling. Segrest plugs her computer into her TV set and uses the television as a digital frame to display photos of her loved ones, which gives her a sense that they’re always there with her whenever she sees their photos.

Other items you can take that might provide you with comfort and familiarity are baskets you can use for storage or display, refrigerator magnets that feature other places you’ve been to, framed photographs of your loved ones, colorful pillow shams and throws, and scented candles.

Segrest prefers to travel light but always brings her expresso machine with her. This item makes her feel like she’s right at home.

Below is a list of some essential items you’ll need to pack for your assignments.

Travel Nursing Assignments: What to Pack

Make sure you ask your recruiter or staffing agency  what’s included in your temporary housing before you begin to pack.

Household Items

• Chargers and batteries
• Flashlight
• Small vacuum
• Tea kettle or coffeemaker
• Dish towels
• Pans and pots
• Glassware and dishes
• Cooking utensils
• Laundry basket
• Duvet/comforter and blankets
• Towels and sheets


• Small radio/stereo or digital speakers
• Tablet or laptop
• Wi-Fi router
• Camera
• Alarm clock
• Smartphone or cellphone

Bring or Rent

• Microwave
• Streaming devices or DVD player
• TV


• Umbrella and other weather essentials
• Layers, coats, and sweaters
• Shoes
• Bathrobe and sleepwear
• Swimwear or workout clothes
• Casual and dressy attire
• Facility uniforms

Personal and Work Items

• Personal mementos or photographs
• Personal and professional books
• Timecards
• First-day instructions
• Phone numbers for your recruiter, the new facility, and nurse manager
• Major debit and credit cards
• Copies of your credentials, nursing license, and other requested documentation
• Copy of your birth certificate
• Social security card
• Insurance and car registration papers
• Driver’s license
• Your travel nurse’s contract
• Your Patient Care & Workplace Safety Standards manual and traveler handbook