Great Self-Defense Strategies for Travel Nurses

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By Miles Oliver

February 9, 2024



Safety on the Go: Great Self-Defense Strategies for Travel Nurses in Unfamiliar Places

Even as a nurse who makes it a priority to help people around the country, it’s still possible to find yourself in an unsafe situation. This is especially possible when working in an unfamiliar place or traveling in the dark. Luckily, you can prepare yourself before your next trip by learning how to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and protect yourself in a struggle. These self-defense tips will help.


You Can And Should Feel Safe And Defend Yourself

Statistics show that many medical professionals often experience feelings of depression and anxiety, likely due to a hectic work schedule and a high-stress job. Constant stress can lead to burnout and hamper your ability to care for the patients properly. If necessary, you can get the help you need by speaking to your superiors and asking for a flexible schedule if you’re overwhelmed. Feeling safe both on and off the job can greatly contribute to your overall well-being, which is why learning how to defend yourself is so important.

Self-defense can involve many actions, from de-escalation, which can include acting calm or not fighting back during a robbery, to using a weapon or your hands to avoid harm. You have the right to defend yourself for life preservation. However, if self-defense becomes excessive and leads to deadly force, you could also find yourself in legal hot water. In many jurisdictions, deadly force is not justified if the attacker is using nondeadly force. The point is that you want to protect yourself and remove yourself from the danger without getting yourself in trouble.

Situational Awareness Is Key

If you’re going to a new or unfamiliar area, it’s vital that you take a moment to gain some situational awareness and spot potential dangers before they can cause an issue. In addition to spotting threats, awareness also involves knowing how to react if necessary. That can be as simple as looking for exits and thinking about how to get to them.


You can improve your situational awareness in an unfamiliar place by watching people without staring. See how they act, react, and express themselves. Look for nonverbal cues, like people who appear nervous or fidgety. It will be easier to spot these red flags if you’re free of distractions on your phone while walking around a new area. It’s a good idea to use your phone to notify someone of your location if you’re scared.

When traveling at night, and you need to make a pit stop, opt for well-lit areas where people are less likely to cause a problem for fear of being seen. Also, try to find places with security cameras, which can deter criminals and help with an investigation in the event of an attack. Be extra cautious in high-risk areas, like near the ATM. Find well-lit machines and never accept help from strangers.

Simple Self-Defense Tactics

If a suspicious person turns into a physical threat, it’s essential to have some self-defense tactics ready to go. You can learn many simple defense techniques that can be incredibly effective. One is to slap an attacker in the face with an open hand if they get too close and pose a threat. That way, you can avoid injury to your hand, and the shock to the criminal may give you a chance to escape.

Another tactic is to drive your fingers toward the attacker’s eyes. This is a very sensitive area for people, and just the threat of having eyes poked could drive the assailant away. Finally, a kick to the groin can cause an immediate end to many physical altercations. When the attacker is disarmed or backs away, get out of the situation and find a safe space or the police and report the crime.

Wherever you go, make it a point to bring pepper spray in your bag and know how to use it. If you’re unfamiliar, consider taking a self-defense class that teaches how to use pepper spray. Pepper spray is a great deterrent as it is non-lethal and can give you confidence when protecting yourself. Taking a class is the best way to learn how to use the tool and the nuances that can help you to be effective, such as the effect of wind direction and how close you need to be for maximum effectiveness.


By having situational awareness and a few self-defense tricks up your sleeve, you can do your best work in unfamiliar places with confidence that you can remain safe. Consider these tips, and you can save your own life while also saving your patients.

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