GETTING READY to travel for the first time? Here's some practical advice that will make it easier.
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[light shade square] Pack it up. If you're staying in corporate housing that's been arranged for you (like most new travel nurses do), all you'll need to take with you are your clothes. Include plenty of nursing uniforms (I take five with me) because you might have to work several shifts before you have time to find a laundry and do your wash. Pack two pairs of comfortable shoes for work so you can alternate and keep your feet happy.
Keep time off in mind when you pack casual clothes, including special pieces like ski clothes or bathing suits, depending on where you're going. Always tuck in some off-season items so you're prepared for unexpected shifts in the weather or change in seasons. After all, you might like the location and renew your contract for 13 more weeks.
[light shade square] Money matters. When you travel to your assignment, carry $200 or $300 in cash or traveler's checks tucked into two or more separate bags. Don't forget your bank card; if you deal with a large bank, you'll have easy access to cash at many locations on the road. When you get to your assignment, look for a local branch of your bank and find neighborhood convenience stores with no-fee cash machines as a backup.
[light shade square] Moving on. Before you leave home, get a moving package from your local post office. Fill it out with your current address and add your new address, which your travel agency should supply. Expect your mail to take 10 days or more to reach you. When going on your first assignment, ask a friend or relative to forward your mail to you for the first few days so you don't miss anything important.
[light shade square] Settle in. When I get to a new town, one of the first things I do is get a local phone book. Then I drive around the area where I'll be based to locate the essentials-grocery stores and gas stations-and resources such as the library, laundry, church, hairdresser, and chamber of commerce. Then I investigate what's in the area for fun so I can plan things to do on my days off. That's a big part of why I like travel nursing. And I hope you will too!!
Linda Doise has been a travel nurse for 3 years for The Right Solutions and Health Care Seeker.