Each new travel assignment opens up a world of possibilities. New people to meet, new hospital to work in, new adventures to be had, and new cultures to experience. Despite all this, it can be easy to get lonely as a travel nurse. The average assignment is usually 13 weeks but let me tell you what, it flies by! Since you are cycling through places for a short amount of time, it can seem difficult to make connections and feel part of a community. These feelings are all quite normal, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t keep pursuing travel nursing. Here are some ways to combat these feelings of loneliness and disconnection.
Make your housing feel like a home
This is one of my top priorities when I first arrive at my new travel assignment. I try to arrive a few days early to explore the area and get settled in a bit before that first week of chaos. I always pack a few sentimental items from home, such as pictures, my favorite books, and comfortable bedding to decorate a bit. I want my temporary housing to have a peaceful, homey vibe to it. I travel with my two pups, Cooper and Isabella, and having a furry companion that is always happy to see me has also helped me fight feelings of loneliness.
For me, I started traveling not only for income but also for adventure. Seeking opportunities to try new things is high on my priority list when it comes to travel nursing. You get to have experiences that you normally may not give to have in your hometown. Get out and explore your new city; you might meet some new friends. Plan adventures with staff and other travelers in the area; they likely are in the same situation as you and would love to tag along. I encourage you to live in the moment and push yourself outside your comfort zones!
Pursue your hobbies and passions
During a new travel nurse assignment is the perfect situation to set time aside for a beloved hobby or for picking up a new one. Try to visit places that encourage social interaction. You can join a gym, hiking group, church, book club, or whatever suits you. Those are all great places to meet like-minded people to hang out with. One of my first go-to’s is the Facebook events; it is a great resource to see what events are happening around you. Depending on the city, you can try new things that you normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do at home. Don’t ever be afraid to try new things solo. It helps you grow as a person, and you see just how truly capable you are.
Make time for family & friends
I have a little secret for you that many are surprised when they hear. My family was not completely on board with the whole “travel nursing” thing. My parents did not really understand it since they had never heard of it, and they have a very conservative approach to life. So, you can imagine how they felt when I told them I was selling all of my belongings, quitting my staff job of 15 years, and leaving to travel the U.S. They thought I was crazy. However, after inviting them out to vacation at my travel nurse destinations, they quickly understood. Not only do they now get a vacation every 3 months and get to come visit me, they see how truly happy I am! I always try to plan a trip home during or after my assignment too. Since the time you get to spend is more infrequent, you tend to make it more quality time, and you don’t take it for granted. The beautiful thing about living in a digital world is we have FaceTime and Skype, so utilize them often to chat with family and friends.
Take time off to renew yourself.
You have to make sure to take care of yourself and your wellbeing. You cannot pour from an empty cup, and I think we can all agree that nursing, in general has been harder than ever due to the pandemic. One of the biggest perks of becoming a traveling nurse is you can build time off in your contract or in between contracts. Many companies will even ensure you medically for a certain amount of days in between contracts so you can take some time for yourself or plan a dream vacation. I like to give myself small rewards and self-love every week or so. I plan a massage or mani/pedi. Some days I just spend the whole day in my pj’s and order DoorDash and don’t leave the house. It’s called Dolce Far Niente, which is the sweetness of doing nothing!
“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” -Miriam Adeney.
We hope you found this article on how to combat feelings of loneliness on your travel nurse assignment helpful. Have you found any ways to combat feelings of loneliness while on assignment? Comment your tips for combating loneliness below.