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Travel Nursing Packing Tips

Blog/Travel Nursing Packing Tips

January 8, 2024

As a travel nurse, you're probably no stranger to packing — but that doesn't mean it gets any easier. Whether you've spent years on the road or this is your first assignment, our travel nurse checklist will help save you some space, time and frustration. Here's what you need to know.

Research and Preparation

Before we dive into what to pack as a traveler you need to do a little research and preparation. Knowing everything you can about your next assignment will give you a better idea of what to bring. Consider the following:

  • Climate:

    Look up the local climate of where you'll be staying, including seasonal weather trends. You might want to add a raincoat, winter parka, snow gloves or boots to your packing list — or remove them and save some space. 

  • Neighborhood:

    If you already know where you're staying, perform a quick online search to get a better idea of the neighborhood. Is it more urban, rural or suburban? Is it in a walkable location? If so, consider packing a pair of comfortable shoes. Are there a lot of upscale restaurants or bars? Bring along your favorite night-out outfit.

  • Amenities:

    Note any amenities at your rental, like gym access. Bring along your yoga mat or a pair of hand weights if you won't have easy access to a workout facility. 

  • Duration:

    The duration of your assignment will tell you how much you need to bring, but remember that you can always shop for clothes when you get there and that the washing machine is your best friend. 

  • Events:

    Pack to accommodate any special events that might happen while you're on assignment, such as a holiday. A few special touches from home could be just the thing you need to get into a celebratory spirit.

  • Furnishings:

    Investigate your housing to see what it has and what you need to bring. Furnished and partially furnished places will likely have things like a coffee maker, linens or laundry facilities. You should also check for things like clothes hangers, an iron, pillows and towels.

Use this information to make a travel nurse packing list. If you're having trouble getting started, think of your daily routine. What do you use every day? To save space, note what you can probably buy there — your nursing uniform is essential, but you can easily pick up some toothpaste or contact solution when you arrive. 

Travel Nurse Packing List

While every job and location is different, here's a general overview of what to pack for a travel nurse assignment:

Clothing and Footwear

Of course, no list of travel nurse must-haves would be complete without your work shoes and uniform or scrubs — but what else should you make room for? You'll need:

  • A few casual outfits for daily wear

  • A pair of comfortable travel shoes 

  • A nice outfit, including formal shoes

  • Gym clothes

  • Pajamas

The type of work you're doing should inform what's in your suitcase. For example, long shifts might call for some compression socks, while jobs that require a lot of walking might require more comfortable work shoes than a more administrative role would.


Bring along all of your necessary electronics and their charger — including your phone, e-reader, and tablet or laptop — if you plan to do any work from home. You might also want to pack an electronics organizer to keep cords neatly assembled in your luggage and an outlet adapter to ensure all chargers fit your rental's plug-ins.

Home Goods

A fully or partially furnished rental will have a lot of the home goods you can think of — like blankets, curtains and cookware — but you might also want to bring some comfort items from home to add some personality to your space and help you practice self-care. Examples include framed pictures, a favorite candle or a must-have seasoning blend.

Important Documents

You'll want to have the following documents with you at every assignment:

  • Your nursing license and credentials

  • A copy of your current contract

  • Your state-issued ID or driver's license and car registration, if applicable

  • Your social security card

  • Your birth certificate

  • A copy of your health insurance card

  • A list of emergency contact information

  • An up-to-date list of your current medications

  • A copy of your travel insurance policy

  • Your passport (if flying)


In some cases, a digital copy of these documents will suffice. 

Personal Care Items

Don't forget all of your personal care items, such as:

  • Your toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss

  • Shampoo, conditioner and body soap

  • Feminine hygiene products

  • Hair care products and styling tools

  • Makeup and makeup remover

  • Skincare items

  • Shaving supplies

  • Glasses and/or contact lenses with contact solution

  • Body lotion

  • Deodorant

  • Body sprays, perfumes, colognes

  • Cotton swabs

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications

Travel Essentials

Some travel items are important to keep on hand during your journey, whether that's by car or plane. Always have the following nearby:

  • Your medications

  • A basic first-aid kit that includes bandages

  • A cushion if you're sitting for long periods

  • Travel snacks

  • A water bottle

  • Lip balm

  • Compression socks for long flights

  • Hand sanitizer

Travel Nurse Packing Hacks

Every travel nurse picks up a few good travel hacks over the years — here are some of our favorites:

  • Use packing cubes:

    Packing cubes or compression bags are a staple item for travel nurses, as they shrink everything inside to a smaller size for easier packing. You can easily fit multiple cubes or bags in one suitcase.

  • Roll your clothes:

    Instead of folding your clothes, roll them tightly — you'll be able to fit a lot more stuff this way. You can keep the rolls together with hair ties or rubber bands if they need some extra support. 

  • Pack heavy items first:

    Your heaviest items should be at the bottom of your suitcase to keep things from toppling over later.

  • Stuff your shoes:

    Stuff your shoes with other items like socks, underwear or bagged toiletries.

  • Wear your bulkiest items:

    Items like thick coats and heavy boots consume a lot of room in your bag. Save space by wearing them on your travels if the weather permits. 

  • Choose versatile pieces:

    Everything you bring should serve a purpose — bonus points if you can find pieces that do more than one thing. For example, a pill organizer can double as the perfect on-the-go jewelry box, while a nice jacket can be both stylish and functional.

Here's a good rule to live by when it comes to packing — once you've finished assembling everything, cut your inventory in half. You would be surprised how many things you don't end up using that take up valuable space. Comb through your list and eliminate anything that isn't essential or that you could do without for a little while. Make sure you do all of this at least a day or two before you leave — don't save packing for the morning of your departure.

Tips for Traveling With Luggage

Consider the following when choosing your travel suitcase:

  • Material:

    Both soft and hard luggage has its benefits. For example, hard case bags are waterproof and protect your items well, while soft bags are generally lighter. As long as you choose a well-reviewed item from a reputable brand, you should be in good shape.

  • Size:

    If you're flying, check with your airline to see what its luggage size requirements are for carry-on luggage. Otherwise, choose a bag that will fit comfortably in your car while leaving plenty of room for your belongings.

  • Ease of use:

    Choose luggage that's easy to transport. Look for features like straps, handles and built-in wheels.

Add a luggage tag with your information to your suitcase, and consider installing a luggage tracker if you're flying. Invest in TSA-friendly travel locks to keep things extra secure, and check luggage soon after landing so you can file a lost item report ASAP if necessary. If you're driving, opt for a bag that's compatible with a luggage rack or has a piggyback clip to attach multiple bags together.

Land Your Dream Assignment With Help From Trustaff


With a little preparation, you can start packing like a pro for your upcoming nursing assignment. Not sure where you're headed next? Let Trustaff help. We connect nurses with exclusive jobs spanning all specialties, and our licensure program lets you obtain a new state license to work wherever you want. Learn more about how it works, or start your application today.

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