Travel Nurse Packing List: A Checklist for Your First Assignment!

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By The Gypsy Nurse

August 8, 2018



Step #15: Packing List for Travel Nurses

Before we get to the Travel Nurse Packing List, let’s talk about company housing.

Whether you find your own furnished housing or take company-provided housing, each space will be different in what is provided, so keep that in mind when making a travel nurse packing list. The “furnished” housing your agency arranges could be fully furnished down to the last teaspoon and towels or sparsely furnished with only the basic furniture.  There is a distinct difference between “furnished” and “turn-key.”

Some companies or landlords will provide “turn-key” housing.  This will generally include everything from silverware to linens as well as furniture. Other times, furnished housing means only furniture is provided–no dishes, towels, linens, or other basic small items. Once you find out what will be provided in your space, you can decide what exactly you need to pack.

Another important consideration when creating a travel nurse packing list is to think about what you might need from home if your next assignment housing is different from your first. Sometimes, travel nurses choose to ship or purchase items that they find they need along the way. Other travelers prefer to keep some basic home items on hand just in case they need them.

Travel Nurse Packing List Categories:

When putting together a travel nurse packing list, it’s easier if you put things into categories. A great idea is to have a box or plastic tote for each category to help you stay organized.

  • Housewares
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Uniforms, work bag, work shoes
  • Paperwork
  • Electronics
  • Personal Care
  • First Aid & Medical
  • Entertainment
  • Luxury Item
  • Hobbies/Activities

Travel Nurse Packing List Tips

Make a Checklist of What You Use Regularly

Know what you use on a daily or weekly basis.  Can you live without it?  Is there an item that can multi-function to fill the need?

Make it Feel Like Home.

Bring something that will help remind you of home.  This may be photos, a favorite pair of pajamas, or some small trinket.


If you are organized, it will be simple to pack and unpack.  By staying organized, you can also set limits on what you take. For example, if you have a “homewares” tote and something doesn’t fit, you have to decide what to get rid of to make the box close!

Hospital Uniform Requirements

Things like scrub colors could change with each assignment but try to keep your checklist for your work attire simple. You only need 3-4 sets of scrubs on your packing list since you will likely only be working three shifts per week!


Slim down your wardrobe.  Use multi-function clothing in a color-coordinated palette.  Do you have a summer skirt that can be paired with leggings, a sweater, and boots to use in the fall?  Making multiple uses of clothing items can be a huge space-saver.

Luxury Items

Don’t forget about you!  Choose and take one (or two) luxury items with you.  For some people, this may be a nice pillow or blanket. For others, it could be a high-end electronic or gaming system. You can’t take everything but also want to feel happy and content while on assignment!


If you enjoy a specific activity or a hobby that requires special equipment or supplies, pare it down to the essentials and add them to your travel nurse checklist.  You will have free time and will want to enjoy some of the activities that are important to you.  If you enjoy camping, you could take a pared-down camping kit when you travel on assignments.  By taking these items with you, you won’t have to miss an opportunity to be involved because you don’t have your equipment with you.

Other Travel Nurse Packing List Items

Remember that you are only going to be away from home for 13 weeks (depending on the contract).  Travel nurse packing doesn’t have to be daunting if you know what to pack. Pack the essentials, but don’t feel like you have to pack everything in your home.

Unless you plan to go from one contract directly to the next without going home between, you need to remember that you will have an opportunity to re-evaluate your packing at the end of a contract.  If you missed something this time, take it with you the next time.  If you packed something that you never used, consider leaving it at home next time.

What you take is really individual. Learning what you need and how to pack it is an art; you will learn as you go.

Do you have tips to share for the travel nurse packing guide?  Is there a trick that you use to determine what to take?  Share your thoughts below.

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Since just recently joining The Gypsy Nurse, I have had so many questions answered about the world of travel nursing. This has been an excellent resource!
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