14 Tips for First Time Travel Nurses

first time travel nurse

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Travel nursing is a great opportunity for nurses looking to expand their horizons, gain valuable experience and explore new places. However, navigating it on your own for the first time is challenging. Luckily, Phaxis specializes in working with first time travelers! We love helping nurses get started and take the time to ensure their first step is the right step for their journey.


Here are some tips for first-time travel nurses to make the most of their experience.



1. Update your resume



Nurses should update their resumes with each new job, experience, certification, or change. Before applying for your first travel nursing job, update your resume with all relevant nursing experience, education, certifications, and references. Update your resume with the latest job experience at the end of each contract. The more travel nurse experience you have, the easier it is to secure your next job. Also be prepared to discuss gaps in your resume over 30 days because employers are wanting to understand what removed you from the market. Lastly, we suggest you ask for a copy of an evaluation or reference check at the conclusion of each assignment. Talk your resume over with your travel nurse recruiter and they’ll give you valuable tips on what to improve.



2. Get your paperwork in order



Before you start your travel nursing assignment, make sure all your paperwork is in order. This includes your nursing license, certifications, immunization records, and any other documents required by the state or facility you are working at. Be prepared for the onboarding / credentialing process, as there is a significant amount of paperwork, medical tests, exams, background checks, etc. that take time. The sooner you complete the credentialing items, the easier it is to get cleared to start for their new assignment. Failure to have the necessary paperwork delays your start date or even causes you to lose the job.



3. Plan for housing



Some travel nursing assignments include optional housing facilities or housing stipends. You should verify with your recruiter ahead of time to determine the process for using this benefit. If you prefer to find your own housing or if housing assistance is not available, plan for housing as soon as possible. If you aren’t sure where to find a long-term rental, consider booking through VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) or Airbnb for the first part of your assignment. Some travelers prefer extended stay for the first week to network and get to know the area before securing housing.



4. Be flexible



Flexibility is key when it comes to travel nursing. Be open to different locations, shifts, and specialties. Especially as a first-time travel nurse. Remember that you are there to gain experience and explore new opportunities, so be open-minded and willing to try new things. Hospitals require travelers due to being understaffed, so being prepared to float, pick up shifts, or work holidays works in your favor!



5. Pack light



Travel nursing means you move from place to place every few weeks, months or years, depending on your contract, so pack light but not too light! Stick to essentials and avoid overpacking and buy items you need at your destination. Be sure to pack comfortable shoes, as you are on your feet for long hours.



6. Network with other nurses



Networking with other travel nurses is a great way to learn about new opportunities and make friends in new places. Join travel nursing groups on social media or attend local events for healthcare professionals. These connections are also helpful in navigating new facilities and finding housing options.



7. Research the companySearch jobs



The first step in becoming a travel nurse is finding a reputable travel nurse company. At Phaxis, our recruiters have your back. Whether it’s Boston, Austin or anywhere else, we are dedicated to finding you the best position in the right location for you. We assign you a travel nurse recruiter that helps you find housing, answer all your questions and gives you the tools you need to be a successful first-time travel nurse.



8. Communicate with your recruiter



Your recruiter is your lifeline when it comes to travel nursing. Be sure to communicate regularly with them and keep them updated on your availability and preferences. They also help you navigate any issues that arise during your assignment.



9. Ask questions



You can never ask too many questions. Before you apply for a travel nursing job, make a list of questions to ask your recruiter or the facility offering a contract. A few examples include: which facilities accept first-time travelers? What are good interview questions to ask? Will there be an opportunity for overtime? How much time off is too much time off? How can I nail the interview? Is this a travel-friendly facility? What compensation should I expect to make myself competitive in comparison to other nurses with more experience? Do not be afraid to ask your recruiter questions up front, this prevents any confusion later down the road.



10. Take care of yourself



Traveling anywhere opens the door to stress and travel nursing adds the complexity of a new role, so it’s important to take care of yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat healthy meals. Take time to explore your new surroundings and enjoy the experience.



11. Research the area



Before you arrive at your new destination, research the area. Learn about the culture, attractions, and things to do in your free time. This helps you feel more comfortable and settled in your new surroundings. On your off days, explore the cities! Follow your routines at home, just in a new setting. Maybe you enjoy going to the farmer’s markets on Saturday mornings at home. Find a local farmer’s market for you to visit while on assignment! Make wherever you are feel like home.



12. Arrive in your new town a few days early



Nothing is more frustrating than being late for your first day of work because you don’t know where you’re going. One of the simplest travel nursing tips to follow is to get to your new town a day or two before your assignment starts (at least) and find your way around. Find a few alternative routes from where you are staying to get to work and familiarize yourself with them. Check out the local grocery stores, gyms, parks and restaurants. Ask to take a tour of the facility you are working in to get a feel for the layout. Being prepared eases the stress of the first day.



13. Be open-minded



Different cities have different cultures and people. They may have different rules or ways of life. Adjusting to a different life is difficult, so give yourself time to feel comfortable in your new setting. Be patient and open-minded, and remember that this is a great opportunity to learn and grow. Remember, some of the best things in life come when we step out of our comfort zone.



14. Have fun



Finally, remember to have fun! Travel nursing is a unique and exciting opportunity. Take advantage of the experience and enjoy all the new places and people you encounter along the way.


In conclusion, travel nursing is a great way to gain valuable experience, explore new places, and meet new people. Your first travel assignment opens the doors to more hospitals, as not all hospitals allow first-time travelers – so be sure to make the most of it! Getting a positive reference and even completing an extension highlights your adaptability and makes you a valuable addition to the team. First-time travel nurses, follow these tips and make the most of your experience!


At Phaxis, our goal is to empower you to steer the course of your career by choosing the positions in cities you feel drawn to. Are you ready for your next adventure? Contact us to place you for your first travel nursing assignment! <<link to search jobs>>



About Phaxis



Founded in 2002, Phaxis is now one of the country’s leading recruitment firms. Specializing in healthcare, information technology, accounting, financial services recruitment, office support, legal, HR,and marketing. Phaxis partners with highly qualified talent and top employers to create rewarding career opportunities that result in long-term success for candidates and employers. Visit us at

Drew Anson

Chief Delivery Officer

Drew Anson is Chief Delivery Officer at Phaxis, a Workforce Solutions Company based in New York.

In this role, Drew leads the delivery and recruiting working closely with the leadership team to define a model that is efficient at supporting the firm’s current needs and is scalable for future growth.

Drew is a seasoned executive with more than 13 years of Services & Recruitment experience. In that time, he has supported numerous Fortune 100/500/1000 organizations across industries by providing global workforce solutions, namely resources and thought leadership for large-scale projects, implementations, and managed services.

Prior to joining Phaxis predecessor firm Park Hudson in 2021, Drew spent three years at engineering technology and talent solutions firm, Collabera, as Director of Sales in North Carolina. Earlier in his career, he spent nearly eight years at Insight Global, most recently as Sales Manager of the Columbus, OH office.

He holds a degree from Central Michigan University in Sales & Marketing.

Favorite Book:   Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
Favorite Team:   Michigan Wolverines
Inspirational Quote:  “There is no substitute for hard work.”  – Thomas A. Edison