Woman wearing a yellow shirt packing a luggage for a travel nurse assignment, buckling in clothing and essentials.

Travel Like a Pro: The Ultimate Travel Nurse Packing List

May Baker
September 28, 2022

Whether you are venturing out on your first travel nursing assignment or hitting the road for your 10th, packing the necessities for 3 months is a chore. Most items can be bought if forgotten, but you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a temporary location. This guide will walk you room-by-room through the most important (and often forgotten) items to check off your travel nurse packing list.

Travel nurse packing list on a graphic of a blue luggage case.

Cleaning Supplies

The first thing I do when I get to my new home is an inspection and cleaning. While most furnished housing includes certain cleaning items, it may not have all the products you’re used to using. That said, always verify with your host (or travel agency if they provided your housing) if there is a vacuum cleaner, mop, and broom available. These items are too large to add to your travel nurse packing list and too costly to buy.  

Cleaning supplies that are in my trunk and easily accessible:

  • Disinfecting wipes or spray
  • Bathroom cleaner/toilet bowl cleaner
  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels

You also might be wondering why you can’t just purchase these items once you arrive. While you can, that’s probably the last thing you want to do after driving a long distance. Also, it’s super annoying to find that the host didn’t leave extra trash bags or doesn’t believe in using paper towels (yes, these people exist).

Bathroom Toiletries

While these might not be needed at all, they take up little space and are easy to pack.  

Medications to Add to Your Travel Nurse Packing List

If you take prescription medications, add a 90-day supply to your travel nurse packing list prior. OTC meds can be bought anywhere but are not always cheap. It’s better to have them just in case instead of having to run out in the middle of the night for them.

  • Acetaminophen or another pain reliever
  • Antidiarrheal or Pepto Bismol
  • Benadryl
  • Sleep aid  
  • Eye drops

Additional medicine cabinet necessities:

  • Tweezers
  • Sunscreen
  • Nail clippers

*Travel nurse packing bonus tip: Every apartment, AirBnB, and hotel should have multiple rolls of toilet paper. Always bring at least one so you aren’t surprised at the wrong moment.

Office Supplies

These might seem silly but I brought them all on a recent travel assignment and used every one. Sure, you can go to the post office if you need an envelope or stamps, or you can skip all that by having it handy.

  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Envelopes
  • Stamps
  • A notepad

Kitchen Gadgets

The kitchen items you bring will depend on the type of housing you choose. Again, communicate with your host or travel agency. A hotel with a kitchenette may have a few dishes and flatware but will lack items like a wine opener (a must-have).  

Kitchen Items to Add to Your Travel Nurse Packing List (if needed)

  • Coffee pot of your choice
  • Spatula
  • Can opener
  • Strainer
  • Meal prep or storage containers
  • Baking sheet
  • Cutting board
  • Crockpot/Instapot/Air fryer/Rice cooker. These are all optional depending on how you like to cook.  

Food items. If you crave specific snacks or have dietary needs, put it on your travel nurse packing list! I like a specific kind of coffee and rather than risk not being able to find it, I bring a canister. Mostly anything can be purchased online and delivered, but a snack common in one region may not exist in another.

*Travel nurse pro-tip: If you love to cook or don’t want to live on frozen meals for weeks, choose housing with a kitchen. Your health and quality of life are worth it.


This is always the area nurses overpack. Particular to clothing, you may want to make a “what not to add to your travel nurse packing list” instead. You don’t need a heavy coat and scarf if you’re going to Miami. You don’t need a bikini if you’re going to Colorado in January (unless there’s a hot tub, go you!). You don’t need 10 pairs of leggings. This is not the time when you’re actually going to wear that top you haven’t worn in 2 years. The most important tip here is:  

Pack. For. Your. Climate.

If you’re going to a region you’ve never been to before, do some research so you’re prepared for the weather. Consider where you might be exploring and the area’s activities.  

Oh, and I guess you should pack your scrubs.  

Items that Feel Like Home

I recommend always bringing a few items that remind you of your home and loved ones to make your time away more comfortable. Here are a few ideas for your travel nurse packing list:

  • A framed photo or two
  • A letter or note from your partner
  • A cozy blanket
  • Your favorite coffee mug
  • A small plant
  • Your favorite perfume or cologne

Items to Occupy Your Time

If you’re traveling without family or pets you will have lots of free time when you aren’t working. Exploring your new city will eat up some time, but you can also use this opportunity to work on a project or learn something new. Plus, loneliness happens so keeping yourself distracted helps. Add a few of these to your travel nurse packing list:

  • Books (one or two, you can always buy more by exploring a local bookstore).
  • A journal. If you like to write or want to start, begin by documenting your adventures.
  • Knitting or other crafting supplies. These usually don’t take up too much space.
  • A yoga mat. Great for stretching or relieving stress after a long shift.

Random Necessities

Here are some essential items to keep in mind when thinking of what to pack as a travel nurse going on an assignment:

  • A Bluetooth speaker. (I was attached to mine.)
  • Chargers. Phone, tablets, laptops.
  • Headphones
  • A lighter
  • Batteries
  • Laundry items. Whether you have a full washer and dryer in your unit or plan to head to the laundromat, you’ll need detergent and dryer sheets. These can be purchased after arrival.
  • Safety items. A flashlight, pepper spray, or a door jammer are just a few ideas.

Forgotten Items Aren’t the End of the World

Dollar stores will become your best friend. Don’t waste your money on brand-name aluminum foil or a fancy dish cloth when you can get them for $1.  

If you forget an item that can’t be easily replaced or would be too expensive, your favorite sunglasses, for example, have a family member mail them to you.

How to Prepare for Travel Assignments

Advantis Medical has you covered with tips on preparing for your travel assignments. Their Nurse Care Team can help with navigating travel nursing with topics on career planning, mental wellness, budgeting, and more.

And when you’re ready to broaden your career and see the world, sign up on the AdvantisConnect job portal to see what travel adventures are waiting for you!

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