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10 Things Every Travel Nurse Needs to Pack

If it is your first travel nursing job or your 15th, these are ten items every travel nurse needs to pack.

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1. Space Saver Bags

I have a small car. When I say small, I have a two-door convertible with a subwoofer (it came like that) in the trunk. I swear by these bags. 

I vacuum seal all of my clothes. My clothes shrink by 70%. Shrinking your clothes is especially helpful when traveling to a travel assignment in the winter. Packing bulky jackets and sweaters can take up a lot of room. Space saver bags are a must-have on your travel nursing packing list.

2. Extension Cords and Power Strips

No matter what apartment or hotel I am in, the placement of outlets never makes sense. Why is there always an outlet directly behind the middle of the headboard but not by the nightstands? I have three extension cords and three power strips, and sometimes I even feel that isn’t enough. This is a requirement on any packing list.

3. Workout Bands

It can feel impossible to work out while traveling. I will make all the excuses in the world. I am working too much. A monthly gym membership is too expensive. I don’t have the equipment to work out at home. 

These bands are lightweight and easy to travel with. They are fabric, so they do not bunch up like their plastic counterparts. I have found a lot of workouts on YouTube. I recommend Heather Robinson. She doesn’t talk throughout the workout. I cannot listen to Shaun T when I wake up. Sorry. 

4. Small Vacuum

I have been bringing a vacuum with me on all my travel nursing assignments. First, so I can seal all my clothes in the space bags. Second, I am a clean freak, and sometimes my swifter won’t cut it. A fellow travel nurse recommends packing a small vacuum. Everyone’s house had a dustbuster when I was growing up, but I feel like they fell out of style. A dustbuster is at the top of my packing list for my next assignment. 

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    5. Faucet Water Filter

    Now, I am not a water snob. I do not taste the difference between Dasani and Evian. I have no problem drinking tap water. But sometimes, no matter how good the water is, it has a funny taste.

    A faucet water filter does not take a lot of room to pack but will improve any water flavor.

    6.Wine Opener

    You just never know.

    7. Fire Stick

    Watching Netflix on your computer gets old quickly. Most TV today are smart TV.s, or they at least have a USB input. A Firestick is cost affordable and only needs the internet. You will be able to watch Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and whatever other streaming services you have. I personally have Sling TV. Honestly, I just watch reality TV. It’s okay. You can judge. I’m confident in myself. Sling has all the channels I need and more. 

    Travel Tip: If you have the American Express Platinum Card, they offer a $20 a month credit for any streaming service. 

    8. French Press

    1. Nurses need coffee.
    2. Not all apartments have coffee makers.
    3. Buying coffee at the local coffee shop is expensive.

    If you haven’t used a French Press, you should. It is small, compact, lightweight. Just fill with hot water and coffee grinds, waiting 5 minutes, and press. 

    9. Utility Wagon

    One of the best purchases I ever bought. I don’t know how I ever moved without it. I can move an entire apartment in three loads. I use it to bring in groceries—no more multiple trips from your car. You will never drop and break a 12 pack of beer again, priorities. 

    10. Chili Pad

    The BEST thing I have ever bought. I get hot when I sleep. You never know if your apartment will have a fan or AC. Most nurses know what an “Artic Sun” is. Well, this is an artic sun for the general public. It is a mat that goes under your fitted sheet. It cools down to 55º F. But don’t worry, for those that get cold when they sleep, it also heats to 110ºF. They also make a temperature-weighted blanket.

    On another positive note, it will improve your relationship. My boyfriend and I can finally sleep together without wanting to take an ice bath in the middle of the night. I know it is expensive, but a good night’s sleep is priceless. 

    Abuse in the ER

    I am in an Abusive Relationship and I Need to Leave: Life as an ER Nurse

    I am in an abusive relationship.
    I need help.
    I need to leave.

    I don’t know if I can. 

    Finally. I am ready to leave. If I am going to live, I have to leave. I know. I have said this before. But this time is different. They said it would change, time and time again. They said they’d never lay a hand on me again. This time, I was punched in the face. It’s my fault, they said. It’s my fault because I chose this.

    Enough is enough.

    Finally, I am ready to leave the ER. I know I have said this before. This time is different. This time I really mean it. I chose to be an ER Nurse. I did not choose to be emotionally and physically abused every single day I go to work. I must have slept through Real Nursing 101, where they cover incessant abuse. And how to live with it.

    I did not choose to have patients yell at me every day. 
    I did not choose to have a man wiggle his privates at me. 
    I did not choose to be spit on. 
    I did not choose to be urinated on. 
    I did not choose to be bitten. 
    I did not choose to be hit in the face. 
    I did not choose to have my life threatened.

    Over and over and over again.

    Sometimes, the hospitals will pretend they care. They will tell us how sorry they are that this happened to us. They will hire more security to protect us. Security that is not allowed to touch the patients.  Security that refuses to remove a patient who is violently threatening staff and other patients. 

    Seems like security is on the patient’s side. Obviously, we were in the wrong, not the patient. We chose to help these patients. We chose to work in the ER. 

    A patient hurled a phone at a child. A child. He was told by security not to do it again. He was not removed from the area. He screamed vulgar insults. But don’t worry, he was not going to throw the phone again. He promised security he wouldn’t. 

    They were drunk. It only happens when they’re drunk. It isn’t who they really are. It is the alcohol.
    It’s always the alcohol.
    They said they’ll never drink again. They apologize. They apologize for drinking, no empathy for the swath of pain and destruction their behavior has brought. They swear they will never drink again. They say I love you. I need you. Nothing changes.
    I need help. Big help.
    I am going to leave this time.

    People are often under the influence of some type of substance. When they are sober they say they are sorry and they will not do that again. I don’t believe them. They say they aren’t responsible because they were high when they punched me in the face.

    The police do nothing. Attacking a healthcare worker is a felony. But nothing is done.

    “He didn’t leave a mark, so we are sorry, but we can’t arrest him.” 

    They aren’t sorry.

    “Ok,” I say.  “I apologize, officer. My fault for calling you. I will wait until my nose is broken before I call you again. I am sorry for bothering you.”

    I am ready to leave. 
    I need help.
    I tried to leave before. I found someone who was nice, safe, and appreciated me. But I missed the old reliable. Maybe, it WAS my fault. I made them mad. I won’t do it again.

    A person can only be called a c*** and a b*** so many times before you believe it. I just smile, and offer them a sandwich.  De-escalation they call it. The patient is always right.

    Maybe I was a b***. I mean, it’s true.  I didn’t offer the patient a sandwich before I asked about their medical ailment. What was I thinking?

     “Ma’am, Would you like ham or turkey? Mustard and Mayo?”

    Patient satisfaction scores are based on the number of sandwiches we give out, not the quality of medical care we provide. 

    OK. I changed my mind. Maybe it really is my fault. They promised to never do it again. They said, I love you. I need you. I want to believe the promises: Things will be better. They won’t call me names. They won’t put their hands on me. I miss them. I believe the promises this time. I really do. I chose this. I chose to stay. I am not going to leave.

    Never Mind.

    I am an ER nurse.
    I don’t need help anymore.

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      Tanah Lot Temple

      Can you afford to live in Bali? I think so…

      Is Indonesia expensive? Isn’t Bali even more expensive? Can you afford to live there full time? What is the cost of living? Why Bali?

      Wait. Let me stop right here. WHY BALI? If you could work from anywhere in the world, why wouldn’t you want to work in Bali?

      View at Tribe Theory Bali
      Tribe Theory Bali

      Can you afford to live in Bali? Yes. Well I think so. I hope so. I’m going to find out. How much does it really cost to live full-time in Indonesia?

      I have a lot of questions. And I don’t have a lot of answers… yet. I told people I wanted a break from nursing and was moving to Bali for the Summer. I knew it was going to be a pay cut from nursing but really, How much does your sanity cost?

      “It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.”

      George Lorimer

      The plan… my plan… is to work teaching English online with VIPKID while traveling around Indonesia.

      I am keeping track of all my expenses every day from accommodations to insurance. I don’t want to bore you with all that. However, if you want all the nitty gritty just keep scrolling past the credits. How did I do week one?

      • Accommodations: $126.00 I have a private room in a co-working hostel. Great Wifi and great people.
      • Travel/Transportation: $111.41 This includes transportation to the airport in Las Vegas AND MY FLIGHT to Bali. Not so bad then.
      • Food/Drink: $93.74 I need to cut my food bill down. More buying my own groceries and not eating at the hostel everyday.
      Vegan Pasta Meal at Tribe Theory
      Amazing Vegan Pasta (I don’t know what makes it vegan, but I don’t care, it’s good)
      • Bank Fees: $31.98 I know why most people don’t think it is cheap to travel. It’s the damn bank fees.
      • Groceries: $36.60
      • Miscellaneous: $47.76 (Visa, Gym, etc)
      • Travel Insurance: $11.88 Travel Insurance. I use SafetyWing. I have never used them before so I can’t give an opinion.

      TOTAL: $459.37

      Now I know that seems like a lot. It does to me too. The thing to remember is the total includes my flight, airport transportation, my visa and simcard. And this was over nine days. So it’s really only $51/day. Next week will be better. Either way, it is only 23 hours of work with VIPKID.

      Now all the details…

      Saturday June 22 — Total: $166.29

      1. Accommodations — $14.00
      I am staying in a private room at Tribe Theory.
      2. Travel/Transportation — $101.71
      The airplane ticket to Bali was $12.00 (Yes, $12.00). When I booked my flight I picked a window seat but realized later I wanted an aisle seat. There were not any free aisle seats left so I had to buy a seat for $50.00. Total fail on my part. My Uber ride to the airport in Vegas was $22.01. The car from the airport in Bali to my hostel was $17.70.
      3. Food and Drink — $2.21
      I ate and drank for free all day at two different airports using my lounge access. Unlimited food and cocktails. You don’t have to ask me twice. And I had one celebratory beer at my hostel that cost $2.21.
      4. Bank Fees — $11.37
      Bank fees are going to kill me. All of the ATMs I have found only let you take out 2,500,000 IDR. Most 100’s I will ever hold in my hand. It’s really only $177.38. Help!
      5. Miscellaneous — $37.00
      My VOA (visa on arrival). You can get into Indonesia for 30 days free, but if you want to extend another 30 days, you need to pay up front.

      First Beer in Bali, Indonesia
      My first official beer in Bali!

      Sunday June 23 — $26.81

      1. Accommodations — $14.00 Private Room Tribe Theory
      2. Travel $0.00 I didn’t go any where because I was exhausted from travel and slept most the day.
      3. Food/Drink $12.81 I ate all my meals at my hostel. I ate two full meals that were each $5.30. I also had a watermelon smoothie for $2.21.

      Monday June 24 — $70.72

      1. Accommodations — $14.00 Still at Tribe Theory
      2. Travel — $1.35 My GOJEK scooter was $0.78 one way to the beach and $0.57 back. (Yes, cents)
      3. Food/Drink — $18.37
      I had a coffee by the beach for $3.47. Then enjoyed the views at a restuarant on the water. The total at the restaurant was $10.65 (I was treating my self). Dinner at the hostel was $4.25.
      4. Bank Fees — $10.31
      Again, Really?! Bank of America is charging me $5 of that. FYI The ATMS’s around Bali have a cheaper fee then at the airport. I remember when I was in Thailand, I spent as much in bank fees as I spent on food and drinks.
      5. Groceries — $26.69
      I spent $26.69 on groceries. I got scammed. My plan is to eat my own food for breakfast (except my latte) to save money, so it should even out.
      6. Miscellaneous- $0.00 I did a free fitness class.

      Tuesday June 25 — $31.43

      1. Accommodations — $14.00
      Tribe Theory
      2. Travel — $3.75
      I took an actual GO-CAR to visit the Tanah Temple. I split it with my friend so one way was $3.75.
      3. Food/Drink — $13.54
      I had breakfast and coffee at the hostel for $6.73 and dinner for $4.60. Oh, and almost forgot my beer for $2.21.
      4. Miscellaneous — $0.14
      We tipped the Sadhu after receiving our blessing.

      Wednesday June 26 — Total: $31.70

      1. Accommodations — $14.00
      2. Travel — $0.00
      I didn’t go anywhere. Just relaxed.
      3. Food/Drink — $17.70
      I made my own breakfast but I did buy an iced latte for $1.77. I went out to dinner at an awesome restaurant on the water. I picked my own fish and then they cooked it right in front of me. $8.14 for a fancy meal and beer. So good. I ate lunch at my hostel for $7.79.

      Thursday June 27 — $36.16

      1. Accommodations — $14.00
      2. Travel — $2.69
      I needed to get a SImcard so I had backup internet for teaching. You can buy them anywhere but they don’t always work. I went into Denpasar so my GOJEK was a little pricey at $2.69.
      3. Food/Drink — $10.62
      I made my own breakfast, but I bought my latte for $1.77. I ate lunch and dinner at the hostel. The food is so good and they have large portions but are a little expensive (for Bali standards). I need to venture out.
      4. Miscellaneous — $8.85
      I bought a simcard so I will have backup internet to teach with.

      Friday June 28 — $32.23

      1. Accommodations — $14.00
      2. Travel — $1.91
      Went to the beach.
      3. Food/Drink — $6.02
      My morning latte and one meal. I made my own breakfast.
      4. Bank Fees — I Can’t even look… $10.30
      You may be wondering why I have had to go to the ATM three times. My debit card had a bunch of charges on it that were not mine. It didn’t happen in Bali. It started before I left. Anyway, I needed to pull out cash to survive until my new card finds me in Bali. I don’t have high hopes.

      Saturday June 29 — $24.70

      1. Accommodations — $14.00
      Same for another week.
      2. Travel — $0.00
      I worked on my computer and walked to the store.
      3. Food/Drink — $10.70
      I had my breakfast latte and my own breakfast. For lunch I walked down the street and found Chicken Satay for $2.21. I stopped at a little stand on the side of the road for desert. Two homemade deserts for $0.21. After dinner, I went to the corner store and got three types of wafers bars for $0.85.

      Latte on the menu at Tribal Theory Bali Indonesia
      My morning crack.

      Sunday June 30 — $27.45

      1. Accommodations — $14.00
      I haven’t moved anywhere.
      2. Travel/Transportation — $0.00
      I hitched a ride to the gym with a guy at the hostel.
      3. Food/Drink — $1.77
      My regular morning latte. I know I should probably just make my own coffee to save money, but it’s like going to Starbucks. Should you spend $6.00 on a grande soy extra hot (I don’t understand extra hot, it’s hot and it has to cool down before you can drink it anyway) sugar free mocha and don’t forget the whipped cream? No, but we do and it starts our day on a good note.
      4. Groceries — $9.91
      We stopped at a fruit stand and Pepito’s (frown face) on the way home.
      5. Miscellaneous — $1.77
      I went to gym.

      Until next week…

      Disclaimer: The math is true to the best of my knowledge. I’m sure someone out there will find a mistake… because thats what people do on the internet.