The Ultimate Guide to Packing for a Travel Assignment

You found your next travel assignment, all the paperwork is complete, now it’s time to pack up the car and head out on the road for your new job. Whether you are a travel nurse or other healthcare traveler, there are some basic tips for packing to get you ready for your new home away from home. So, what do you pack?

Packing for a vacation or holiday can be fun, although it can also be a little stressful. But, packing for a 13-week assignment is daunting. Whether this is your first assignment or you are a seasoned pro, there is always more to learn for maximum packing and moving efficiency. Here are some tips to make the moving process a little easier.

Tips for Packing

Before you Pack

If you aren’t sure about where to stay check out a few tips in our blog by Furnished Finder. Then, talk to your recruiter or property manager about what will be available in your home away from home. Airbnb or VRBO usually provide you with some basic kitchen utensils but they may not have a coffee maker or something else you find essential. It’s good to know before you arrive

The Essentials

Packing clothes for work seems obvious but it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself. Basics like scrubs, appropriate shoes and outwear, recreational items, and toiletries are important and usually the first thing you think of when packing.

Toiletries, in this case, are more than just shampoo and toothpaste. Sometimes it’s important to bring a bath set including towels and washcloths. To quote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “A towel… is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have…” Travel nurses and healthcare professionals aren’t quite intergalactic travelers but the necessity for clean linens still stands.

Research the Climate

A fall assignment in New York is very different from a fall assignment in Texas. A few quick Google searches can help you pack more appropriate clothing and supplies. If your closet isn’t quite equipped for drastic temperature changes, plan to shop when you arrive, that way you don’t have to take as much with you.

If you decide to shop, consider looking into second-hand stores when you get there. They will have climate-appropriate clothes at great prices. That way you don’t have to blow your budget on clothes that aren’t useful at home, and you can donate or sell them when you complete your assignment.

The Fun Part

You’ll find that researching the area is the fun part. It’s the best way to get excited about your new adventure. You can begin to plan interesting activities to do on your days off.

Now is the time to prepare for your excursions. Do you need a bathing suit for a surfing destination? Or, do you need some warm baselayers for a skiing community? As you research all the fun possibilities for your new location, you can start planning your packing list too.

Packing Hacks

Everyone has their favorite packing hack. Whether it’s shower caps on your shoes, or always remembering a first aid kit, we all have something we can’t leave home without. Here are a few of our favorites that you should add to your packing list.

Rolling Clothes

There are two methods of packing your clothes, (well, the third method of shoving everything in a bag and running out the door isn’t really worth mentioning) folding and rolling. Some travelers are avid believers in the folding method. However, the rolling method actually saves more space for everyday items.

Packing Cubes

You can fit more into any bag if you pack with a plan. Packing cubes help organize rolled or folded items. Use can use smaller cubes for items like socks and underwear. You can usually fit these into tighter spots in your suitcase. Bigger cubes are great for shirts, pants, scrubs, or skirts. It’s nice to be able to grab one cube and put the contents into a drawer without worrying about organization.


A cooler is a must-have for any road trip. Sometimes it’s hard to plan out emptying the fridge until the day you plan to leave. Don’t toss your lunch meat, pack a cooler for the road! As a bonus, when you get there you have a cooler ready to go on your adventures.

Bags in Bags

Sometimes you need a bigger bag to carry your computer, wallet, charging cords (more on this later), phone, keys, lunch, and then whatever you grabbed off the counter on your way out. Other days, all you need is your phone, keys, and wallet. Pack your smaller bags in your bigger ones so you have variety without sacrificing space. Reusable grocery bags have great dual purpose for traveling and every day.

Cord Organization

Some people really enjoy unplugging and getting away from everything. However, that isn’t always possible. And, you don’t want to be forced into it because your computer died and you lost your charging cord. Get organized with a cord bag. You can find a variety of styles online or use an old dopp kit. Either way, put them all in a safe space together. Throw in a few extension cords and maybe a powerstrip. You never know when you might need one.

Comfort Items

Picking up everything and moving to a new city is always a big step, even if you’ve done it a dozen times. Aside from the basic necessities, there are certain things you need to feel comfortable in your new surroundings. Pack a few items that may seem impractical but make you happy.

Bring a digital picture frame to show a slide show of family and friends, so you never feel alone. Or, pack your favorite coffee/tea mug to start your day with a smile. Don’t be afraid to grab that stuffed banana that you’ve watched every scary movie with since you were a kid. If it makes you smile, pack it.

Ready for Your Travel Assignment

If you are ready to go but not 100% sure where you want to spend the next 13 weeks, check out our blog about housing options or destination spotlights for some inspiration. Once you’ve picked your spot, you are ready to hit the road as a working tourist.