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Moving to a new community for a travel nurse assignment is always an exciting time. It can also be busy, lonely, and expensive! Hosted activities can help you enjoy your downtime, get to know a beautiful city, and make a few friends along the way. But how do you find good options that don’t cost a ton?
As a travel nurse or allied professional, you don’t always have a lot of time to settle in. In this post, we’ll look at six ideas to help you put together a list of free (or cheap) adventures so you can start exploring quickly.
1. Start with the things you love most
How do you spend your time when you’re not busy working in healthcare facilities? This is an obvious starting point, but for that same reason, it can be easy to overlook—especially when everything about your travel assignment is unfamiliar.
Focusing on your biggest interests can offer fresh ideas as you navigate a new community. Here are a few potential venues to check out:
- Love the outdoors? Check Facebook or your nearest sporting goods shop for promoted events with a local hiking club.
- Enjoy a heated game of Catan or Monopoly? Ask the local gaming store if they host a regular board game night.
- Does working with yarn help you relax? Search Meetup.com or nearby craft shops for knitting or crochet groups that have open events coming up.
- Are you a trivia fan? Check out nearby pubs and cafes to see whether any of them hosts a weekly or monthly trivia night.
- Are you always volunteering for something? Get in touch with a local charity that supports a cause you’re passionate about or see if there’s an organization that helps place volunteers wherever they’re needed most.
Open-invite social events can be a fun thing to do on a Saturday night, but they can also be an intimidating way to meet people beyond other medical professionals. Using niche interests to find activities like photography walks, language exchanges, and book clubs means you’ll already have something in common.
2. Find the most popular attractions online
Travel websites, such as Travelocity and Expedia, can point you toward popular attractions and locations. Checking Google is automatic—but you can do a more focused search with fewer ads and distractions using Google’s Travel Planner. Go right to the Things To Do search for a list of local hot spots.
3. Visit the tourism office
The local tourism office has the most up-to-date information about upcoming activities and events such as carnivals, festivals, and public performances. Chances are they have a great website, too, but there are a few good reasons to visit in person:
- You can ask about free activities and get a straight answer! You won’t have to scan multiple websites to find the info you’re looking for.
- You’ll typically find a collection of printed flyers and seasonal publications that shine a spotlight on events, holidays, and activities over the next few months.
- There may be “hidden” coupons or discount cards for residents that don’t show up on travel-focused sites. For example, some cities offer low-cost tickets or free entry times for museums, parks, and other public facilities.
Most importantly, the people who work at the tourism office can offer personalized recommendations and honest advice to answer your most burning questions about life in the area.
4. Look for a free walking tour or make your own
Guided walking tours, often offered “by donation”, are a fun way to learn the stories that have shaped a city and get tips for places you should check out next. Get an introduction to the downtown area or take an architecture or art tour to gain a fresh perspective of your surroundings.
What can you do in smaller cities that don’t have the demand to support regular tours? Try a DIY approach!
- Open your favorite maps app and make your own route by pinning features such as public gardens, museums, art galleries, or public walking paths.
- Pick a theme and go on a scavenger hunt for things like statues, street art, historical signs, cool buildings, or incredible restaurants to visit in the future.
- Look for audio travel guides through websites such as Audible or the Libby app (which can be accessed for free with a library card).
5. Use popular apps for ideas and inspiration
Use information from popular apps and websites to create a customized list of adventures—and consider inviting a new friend or colleague to go with you!
Which apps should you check out?
- Social networks are a rich source of information and TikTok has become a particularly great travel guide. Search hashtags for your new city, county, and state to see what comes up!
- Exercise-tracking apps like MapMyRun and Strava can help you find top nearby routes for activities such as running, walking, or cycling.
- If you prefer getting into the wilderness instead, download the AllTrails app. Their filters can help you find hiking trails with the right difficulty and length.
- This might be the perfect time to discover Geocaching if you haven’t already. Geocaching is a GPS-driven treasure hunt for caches all over the world.
- If you appreciate the weird and wonderful, Atlas Obscura can point you toward bizarre monuments, haunted ruins, and other unexpected locales.
6. Connect with locals
Nothing makes it easier to start feeling comfortable than a few new friends. Sites and apps such as Nextdoor, Couchsurfing, and Meetup can help you find friendly acquaintances as well as your nearest neighbors. Find these and other recommendations on our list of smart apps for travel nurses and allied pros.
Another great way to connect with people in your area is through Facebook Groups. Search for groups in your assignment location such as New To Austin 20/30s (NTA) or Sacramento what’s going on!—they’re full of people just like you who are:
- Trying to figure out life in a new place
- Looking for recommendations and advice
- Hoping to meet people to have fun with
You don’t have to meet anybody in person if you don’t want to. Being active on these sites gives you a place to ask questions and learn from others with as much—or as little—commitment as you prefer.
Adjusting to a travel nurse assignment in a place where very little is familiar can be as engaging as it is stressful. Make time for self-care, fun, and socializing outside of your new travel assignment! Use these ideas to start filling your calendar and, before you know it, you’ll feel more settled and ready to share this amazing location with friends and family who come to visit.
Our job board is a great place to search for your next travel nurse assignment. If housing is an issue, we have you covered with our housing page. You can search for what you are looking for.