What’s in Your Bag? The Ultimate Packing Guide for Traveling Nurses on Assignment

The life of a traveling nurse is a hectic one. It can be an enriching lifestyle to travel from one destination to another, helping people wherever you land, gaining experience, and working with communities of all sizes. It can also be highly stressful, especially when you have to pack up and move to a new location.

Experienced travel nurses will tell you; it’s all about the preparation. Packing before you go is critical because once you arrive at your destination, you may be too busy to seek out those necessities or nice-to-haves you forgot. That’s if you can even find them at your destination at all.

To avoid the hassle of locating a replacement or getting important documentation sent to you, we highly recommend a packing list. We’ve broken ours up into categories to help you customize it to your needs.


Perhaps one of the most vital parts of non-domestic travel, and some of the hardest to replace if you’re missing it when you arrive, is your documentation. While the specific list of documents may vary, always make sure to bring more than you think you’ll need, just in case.

  • Driver’s License or Government ID
  • Social Security Card
  • Passport
  • Vehicle Insurance
  • Travel Documentation
  • Insurance and Policy Information
  • Roadside Assistance Documentation
  • Vaccination Passport or Documentation
  • Record of Certifications and Nursing License

Some of this can be kept digitally or stored safely in a document holder in a safe place. Some, like your nursing license, will be held on file by the staffing agency or organization sending you on assignment as well. Having backups and records can be extremely helpful, however.


Certain items are valuable or essential whenever you’re traveling, whether it’s a domestic road trip or an international assignment. Make sure to have these on hand.

  • Stocked and Refreshed First Aid Kit
  • Any Prescription Medications
  • Standard Health Items (Personal Care, Grooming, Sanitary Products)
  • Thermal Blanket
  • Toiletries, Including Soap, Shampoo, Lotions or Creams, Sunscreen, Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Floss, Mouthwash, Deodorant, Shaving Supplies, Cosmetics, Haircare Products, Contact Lens Fluid, Nail File/Clippers.
  • Spare Toilet Paper and Paper Towel
  • Flashlight
  • Spare Batteries

Remember that some items may be restricted from air travel or need to be appropriately packed, certified, or otherwise inspected before being allowed on a plane. They aren’t an issue if you’re taking ground travel routes.


Clothing depends heavily on your personal needs. Do you plan to pack light and do laundry, or pack more thoroughly to save time? Do you need various outfits for different purposes, or are you okay with a few sets of casual clothes and your scrubs? Here’s a list you can adapt.

  • Casual Clothing
  • A Formal Outfit
  • Scrubs
  • Masks, Both N95s and Cloth for Casual Use
  • Sports/Activewear
  • Work Shoes
  • Casual Shoes

Remember to double-check the climate at your destination to ensure that you’re not packing a sweater when you go to Mexico, or forget your winter gear for a trip to Northern Canada.


All of us are tethered to our electronics and gadgets these days, some more than others. Consider what you need, what you want, and what you can leave behind.

  • Laptop/Notebook Computer
  • Mobile Device/Phone
  • Tablet
  • Gaming Console/Entertainment
  • Headphones
  • Camera and Accessories
  • Chargers and Cables

If you have them, bringing a spare or backup charger for your essential electronics can be a very important item to bring along.


There’s always room to customize your packing list. One item many traveling nurses overlook is keepsakes or reminders of home. Especially if you’re not experienced with traveling, or you’re traveling to a location far from home, you may experience homesickness. Bringing a keepsake or two, something to remind you of home can help ease that source of stress.

You will also want to determine some critical details about your assignment early on. For example, the packing list for a two-week assignment will be different from a two-month assignment. Prepare for the climate, the weather, the culture, and what you might want to do during your time off work.

Finally, remember to keep in mind the accommodations you’ll have. If you’re given a room, and not much more, you may need to bring or buy everything from flatware and cutlery to linens and towels. On the other hand, if you are provided accommodations with a full set of supplies, you can travel much lighter.

With healthcare workers leaving the industry at an unprecedented rate, medical facilities across the country and worldwide are constantly seeking travel nurses to fill the gaps, from rural hospitals to urban centers. There’s more demand than ever, so if you’re a travel nurse seeking an assignment, reach out today.

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