Taking the leap into the healthcare travel lifestyle is an adjustment, to say the least. From packing up and moving every 13 weeks to new technology to learn, life as a professional traveler is full of constant change and adventure.
No. 1: What tips do you have for meeting people when you start a new assignment?
Meeting new people can be difficult, especially when you have to do it all over again in just a few months. Plus, making friends as an adult is simply just harder, studies have shown. But, not impossible!
Kenzy works nights in the emergency room (ER), so for her and her colleagues who get off in the early mornings, it’s common to “blow off some steam at local breakfast spots,” she said.
“I always ask people if they want to go to breakfast, especially after a rough shift,” Kenzy said. “I’ve made many friends I still keep in contact with from past-work breakfast gatherings.”
Of course, not everyone works overnight shifts, so if breakfast isn’t an option, try out another meal like dinner or maybe a late-night happy hour. No matter what time of day, food has the power to bring people together and help build lifelong connections.
No. 2: What would you go back in time and tell yourself before you started traveling healthcare?
They say hindsight is 20/20. While it may hold some truth, that’s only because you didn’t know then what you know now.
For many Marketplace healthcare travelers, they would go back to tell their younger selves to start traveling sooner, like Ramon. He said he would go back and tell himself to “start earlier, travel lighter, and save more money.”
Now with four years of travel experience under her belt, Tori would tell her younger self to keep an open mind. “Go in with an open mind and the attitude of ‘I’m here to help,’” she said. “You’re in a new place and have to learn how they do things, but never be afraid to stand up for yourself. Do the best work you can, but also try to get out in your area and explore on your days off! Enjoy the ride, learn, and explore.”
And Jeanette couldn’t agree more. “My advice is always to remember that we’re there to help, not change things,” said Jeanette. “You are there to work and do your job to the best of your ability. So, remember those things sand it’ll work so much smoother. Remember your ‘why’ and dominate the day!”
Throughout the years, Jordan has also learned a couple good rules of thumb that he wishes he could go back in time and share with his younger self. They are:
“First, don’t get involved in drama and there’s tons in the healthcare field. Healthcare specialty communities are too small to burn bridges.
Second, always ask for a bonus or raise because the worst they can say is no!
Third, find your own housing. You can make more money.
Fourth, if you travel in a camper, they break quite a bit. To help, use kid gloves when you work on them because campers are more delicate than you think.
Lastly, you can do anything for 13 weeks! Some places do suck, but others are incredible!”
Although you may not be able to turn back time, but you can always enlighten another with your words of wisdom. Or learn from someone else’s experience.
No. 3: What are some packing essentials for a 13-week assignment?
It can be tough to be away from home for months at a time. To help cope with feelings of homesickness, it’s important to pack meaningful and cozy items that make you feel comfortable. For many Marketplace travelers, must-have items include a pillow, bedding, a throw blanket, and personal photos.
However, Stephanie recommends to always keep a 9-Volt battery handy while on the road. She says: “Bring a 9-Volt battery because it never fails. No matter where I go or what kind of place I’m in, the smoke detector battery will end up needing replaced in the middle of the night, every single time!”
It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when you’re away from home without access to your usual things. When you get ready to hit the road for a travel nursing, travel therapy, or allied healthcare assignment, make sure you have all you need to help make you feel at home. Whether that’s your favorite blanket, an air diffuser, or coffeemaker, don’t forget to pack your must-have items.
No. 4: What do you do to make where you are on assignment feel more like home?
There are many ways to make your temporary housing feel like home. First, you can pack those essentials that bring you comfort and joy. For Pamette, that’s a small ceramic blue and white owl from her grandson, a glass rose from her daughter, and a picture board.
However, for Jackie, that means a temporary home that’s already full of the furniture that makes it feel like a cozy living space.
“We bring our own sheets and pillows,” Jackie shared. “We also make sure we rent fully-furnished places that look somewhat homie.”
As Furnished Finder partners, Marketplace makes it easy for healthcare travelers to find a temporary home that suits their lifestyle. As Jackie mentioned, she rents fully-furnished units because it adds a certain hominess that unfurnished places lack. With Marketplace, you can browse fully-furnished apartments, condos, Airbnbs, and more until you find the one that makes you feel most safe and at-home.
Another thing that helps make a space feel like home is the way you decorate. Although Tina travels full-time in an RV, she still takes the time each holiday to decorate and start new traditions because that’s what makes it home to her. And Carli relates.
“I grew up in a home that was always decked out for every holiday,” Carli said. “So, I always grab a few super cheap decorations to bring the holiday-home feeling to my travel home. After the holidays, I donate them to Goodwill, so I don’t feel guilty.”
Creating a safe space is a personal experience. Regardless of what that looks like for you, make sure you pack what you need, decorate as you wish, and add your own personal touches to your temporary home.
No. 5: What advice would you give to someone who is traveling with a pet?
If you’re a pet parent, then you know that animals are equally as part of the family as any human. But, as an in-demand healthcare traveler, it can be a challenge to bring along your pet(s) to a travel assignment. Here’s how Marketplace travelers say you can make it easier on yourself:
- “Always have a small, more quick-trip-friendly carrier that you can use to take them to the vet, if needed,” said Sandra.
- “We love using the Rover app to help find dog-sitters and groomers for our dog!” Shared Jackie. “It’s a great resource to find people who love to care for your pets, especially when you’re moving every three months or so.”
- “Make sure you stop every one-to-two hours so your furry pal can potty, drink, and stretch their legs,” advised Jennifer.
- “Keep a paper copy of their vaccination records,” suggested Laura. “It’s helpful to have handy when looking for a new daycare/boarding facility, if needed, or in case of an emergency.”
- “We use CBD treats to help them chill on longer car rides!” said Carli.
- “Call the place even it says it doesn’t allow pets,” said Cory. “Explain your unique situation as a healthcare traveler but understand that they may not feel the way you do about your pet. As a last-ditch effort, you can offer to pay a little more due to the pet. We go unorthodox and travel with exotics and have been for three years!”
- “If you thought they were clingy before, just wait until you move into a camper or hotel,” shared Rebekah. “They’ll always be supervising, even if you just need a minute to lie on the floor to unpinch your back! But the snuggles are 100 times better after a long shift in a new place.”
Pets are a close part of your family and they can enjoy the travel life right alongside you! So, the next time you embark on a travel assignment, come back to these expert tips on how to make it a smooth ride for you and your furry family member(s).
Whether you’re on your very first assignment or approaching triple digits, healthcare travel can be hard. Lucky for you, you’re part of a like-minded community who’s always ready to offer support, advice, and answers to your burning travel questions like these.
All Q&A's and images were taken from Marketplace's social media users and conversations.