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Written by Maegan Baker, BSN RN CCM

Packing for a travel nursing assignment can be a pain. Over time you learn what is necessary and what isn’t, but venturing into a new region or climate you're unfamiliar with presents a new challenge. Our travel nurse packing checklist will help you bring the essentials without overpacking.

Items You Do Not Need to Pack

When you go on assignment you can often expect housing to be an apartment or townhome. In some cases, it could be an extended-stay hotel and will come furnished. Medical Edge Recruitment will work to match you with the living arrangements you desire, such as amenities (pool, fitness center), free parking, pet-friendly, etc.

It is always in your best interest to inquire about what is or isn’t included. Be sure to clarify if Wi-fi or cable services are included.

Ask your host/agency rep if the following items are included or available:

  • In-unit laundry or access to a laundry room
  • Television
  • Dishwasher, stove, fridge, microwave
  • Large cleaning supplies (vacuum, broom, mop)
  • Bed linens and bath towels

Housing Items to Bring with You On Assignments

Keep this checklist handy when packing for your next assignment so you won’t forget a thing. If something needs to be bought, consider dollar or thrift stores to save money.

Household Essentials

This list of basics will keep your space clean and safe.

  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • A hand-held vacuum (if not supplied)
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • Laundry detergent and dryer sheets
  • A lighter
  • Pepper spray, knife, or other personal protection

1. Kitchen Essentials

Consider your cooking and eating habits when packing kitchen supplies. This will also depend on the kitchen appliances available.

  • A favorite coffeemaker
  • Bottle opener or corkscrew
  • Meal prep/storage containers
  • Spatula
  • Can opener
  • Baking sheet
  • Pots/pans
  • Cutting board
  • A favorite tumbler/coffee mug
  • A few plates and bowls
  • A measuring cup
  • A utility knife
  • Pet food and their food and water bowls
  • Flatware (A full set isn’t necessary)
  • Air fryer/Crockpot/Instapot for effortless cooking
  • Food items you can’t live without or are hard to find
  • A couple kitchen towels/sponges and dish soap

2. Bathroom Essentials

Most of these items can be easily purchased on arrival if forgotten or to save on space while traveling.

  • Bath towels and washcloths (if not included)
  • Soap/body wash
  • Razors
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Lotion
  • Perfume/cologne
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Hairbrush/comb
  • Shower cap
  • Blow-dryer
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Feminine products
  • Deodorant
  • Hair styling tools/products
  • A box of tissues
  • Toilet paper (bring at least one roll in case there isn’t any)

3. Bedroom Essentials

Getting quality sleep is necessary to work at your best. Consider what you need to rest (fan, blackout curtains), and if the host doesn’t supply it, add it to the list.

  • Air purifier or a small fan
  • Your favorite pillow/blanket
  • Bed linens (these may or may not be included)


  • Most importantly, your scrubs
  • Pajamas
  • Loungewear
  • Athletic/gym clothing
  • An outfit or two for days off

Tip: Use a large laundry basket as a “suitcase” for hard-to-pack items like shoes or cleaning products.

4. Digital Essentials

Most of us can’t go a day without access to the digital world. Don’t forget the cords and chargers for your devices.

  • Wi-Fi router (if not included)
  • Chargers
  • Streaming devices (Roku, Firestick)
  • Laptop or tablet
  • Camera
  • Headphones
  • Bluetooth speaker
  • eReader

5. Medical Essentials

Remember to refill your prescriptions if possible before taking off. It’s advised to keep these medication essentials on hand:

  • Tylenol or a pain reliever of choice
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Benadryl
  • Sleep aid
  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen and bug spray (if you plan on outdoor exploring)

Items for Different Climates

The climate is one of the most important considerations when packing for your assignment. If this is your first time visiting the area, you may be unfamiliar with what to expect. Spend some time researching the weather for the time you’ll be there.

Essentials for colder climates

Make the most of your packing space by choosing several pieces that can be layered.

  • Base layers: fleece leggings and thermal shirts
  • Thick wool socks
  • Sweaters
  • Down jacket
  • Raincoat
  • Gloves
  • Scarf
  • Hat
  • Waterproof boots
  • Handwarmers
  • Warm pajamas and loungewear
  • Ice scraper for your car if you’re driving
  • Chapstick and hand cream for dry skin

Essentials for hotter climates

On the other hand, don’t pack sweaters if you’re going to Texas in July.

  • Hat/visor
  • Sunglasses
  • Rain jacket
  • Swimsuit
  • Sandals
  • Moisture-wicking clothing
  • Shorts
  • Dresses
  • Beach items (sunscreen, towel, chair)
  • Hiking gear (boots, backpack, bug spray)

Keep Track of Your Important Documents

It’s essential to always have copies of travel documents on hand at every assignment. Keep digital copies on your phone but also have physical copies easily accessible (yet protected) and carry them with you to every assignment. This includes:

  • Passport
  • Social security card
  • Insurance cards
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Copy of your contract
  • Reference list
  • Driver’s license
  • Birth certificate
  • Nursing license
  • BLS/ACLS or any other certifications
  • First-day instructions
  • Immunization records
  • TB/PPD test results
  • Physical exam results

Partner With Medical Edge for a Seamless Transition

Medical Edge Recruitment is on your side to help you find and secure safe housing that meets your expectations. Our Credentialing team will walk you through licensing, background checks, drug screens, and more to ensure you are ready for your first day. Contact us today to get started.

About the Author:

Maegan Baker, BSN RN CCM has a decade of nursing experience that includes acute care, hospice, travel nursing, case management, and telehealth care. She transitioned into freelance writing three years ago to combine her passion of writing with medicine. You can follow her on instagram @thefreelancenurse or reach her at her website

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