While you may feel like delaying the inevitable, don’t. You can avoid packing anxiety by approaching the process logically, methodically, and (above all else) early.



One of the key rules in packing is to bring lots of light layers. Peeling off or piling on t-shirts or turtlenecks, button-down blouses, vests, jackets and coats lets you regulate your temperature to match whatever Mother Nature or a cruel thermostat can throw at you. If you’re not sure what to expect weather-wise at your next assignment, do a little homework online.

packing-nurse-job-travelerSites like AccuWeather ( or┬áThe Weather Channel ( let you look into seasonal averages of temperature and precipitation. Speaking of which, don’t forget to pack an umbrella!


Before accepting an assignment, make sure that your recruiter and your hospital unit manager have explained whether you are responsible for scrubs, shoes, and stethoscope or whether those items will be provided. If you are bringing your own, get the details on what color of scrubs you’ll be expected to wear and any restrictions on footwear.

Leisure Time:

Versatility is the key when it comes to your everyday couture. To limit the amount of items packed, try to assemble multipurpose outfits that you can easily upgrade with jewelry or snazzy shoes for a night on the town, or dress down with sneakers or a baseball cap for a trip to the park or a bowling alley.

Traveling Companions:

Whether you’re traveling with a spouse, friends, children, pets, or all of the above, the needs of companions will affect your packing plans. If kids will be in tow, help them pick out one primo stuffed animal each, perhaps with a promise that they can add to their collection at your destination. Another tip: Put a basic first-aid kit with bandages, disinfectant, and gauze in your bags, and be sure to include contact information for everyone’s physicians and drugstores, just in case.

If you’re thinking about bringing your pets on assignment, be sure you notify your recruiter and verify your apartment complex is animal friendly. To help ease pets’ anxiety and make them more comfortable in their new surroundings, consider bringing familiar toys or treats along. Be sure to pack your vet’s phone number and any prescriptions or foods for special dietary needs.

Traveling Light:

Carry as little as you can. Talk to your recruiter and find out for sure whether your housing complex offers linens, cooking utensils, and other housewares. Remember, you can always supplement your household items by visiting thrift stores or malls at your destination.

Lay Items Flat:

Folding takes up space so fold clothes as few times as possible. To make sure everything fits in your bags, wear bulkier items, within reason, and cushion the impact of luggage straps by wearing a suit jacket with shoulder pads or a heavy sweatshirt.

Limit the Number of Shoes:

Consider only taking a dressy pair and a walking pair. Wear the larger of the two and stuff the other with toiletries, socks, underwear, a travel alarm, or other small items. This practice not only keeps those items protected, it saves your shoes from getting crushed.

Pack a Suitcase Tightly:

If the suitcase is full and you fold your clothes properly, the pressure can actually eliminate wrinkles. When clothes are packed loosely, contents tend to shift during travel and become rumpled.

Bring a Piece of Chalk:

If you spill something on a white or light-colored piece of clothing, you can rub the chalk over the stain, brush off any excess dust and conceal the stain until clothes may be properly cleaned.

Avoid Spills:

Throw a bunch of Ziploc bags into your suitcase to hold miscellaneous toiletries, make up, or snacks that may leak or be crushed in transit, damaging clothing.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles:

The basic rules still apply no matter what mode of transportation you choose. If you travel by plane or by train, you’ll want to keep the weight of your suitcase in check for ease of handling. When flying, always keep a carry-on bag with you that contains essential items like medications, underwear, toiletries, and a set of scrubs in case checked luggage is lost or waylaid. If you use high-speed film (800 speed or greater), ask to have undeveloped rolls checked by hand so film won’t be damaged by the automated screeners.

Traveling by car provides the luxury of packing heavier suitcases and taking more stuff. But beware. The downside to this mode of travel is that packing discipline often falls by the wayside. Remember the cardinal rule of enjoyable car travel; Just because you have the space, doesn’t mean you need to fill it.

Putting the “P” in Prepared:

With a bit of advanced planning, you can say goodbye to those days when you stayed up all night doing laundry and packing, only to dump the contents of your dresser into a mammoth suitcase, stomp on the lid to close it, and then proceed to drag it across three time zones. Try out some of these suggestions the next time you move. Chances are, you’ll not only feel more organized, but also less stressed when you reach your next home away from home.

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