YAY! You’ve locked in your next travel contract. You know the location, where you will be staying, and the best things to do in your new city! Don’t let packing bring down your enthusiasm for this next adventure. We’ve learned a lot from travelers throughout our 27 years, here are the top six tips for packing for a 13 week travel contract!

Think Minimalistic

We get it – It’s easy to go overboard with the excitement of packing for your new travel contract. A huge tip we’ve learned from our travelers is to pack your luggage with a minimalistic mindset. At the time, over packing might seem like a good idea, but imagine having to pack and unpack your luggage and car every 13 weeks. Now imagine the frustration of packing and unpacking items you didn’t even use. For example, you probably won’t need that slow cooker if you are planning to bring your instapot.

Save time and energy by only packing the basics – your scrubs, clothes for your days off, electronics, prescriptions, and important documents. Remember, you’ll probably pick up souvenirs throughout your travels too, be sure to make room!

A pro tip for packing for a 13 week travel contract is to evaluate the items you haven’t used on your first contract, and leave them back at your permanent home for your next upcoming contract. This makes your traveling lighter and less stressful.

Buy/Rent Supplies at Your Location

Group riding bikes on the beach

Remember you can always pick up basic supplies at your new location. Don’t feel like you need to pack all the spices from your kitchen cabinet, all your nail polish colors, or four cans of hairspray. Pack the necessities and if you run out, it’ll be easy to replace them via a trip to the store or an online Amazon order.

Additionally, some of our travelers also suggest picking up basic kitchen dishes and utensils at a local thrift shop and then dropping them back off when your contract is over. Others prefer buying new items for a cheap price at the local Dollar Store for their contract.

Remember, you can always rent outdoor gear like skis and surfboards from your local outfitter shop. It might be worth renting versus the hassle of packing and hauling all your gear. Also, you never know where your second, third, or fourth contract will be. So don’t be that person who brings snow shoes to Texas!

Do Research Before

Before packing for your new travel nursing contract, research the area you are traveling to and make sure you understand the weather in your new location, what there is to do, and what is provided.

Opening door to hotel room

When researching your new location, become familiar with the weather patterns of the area and make a small list of things you for sure want to experience while there. This will help you determine the kinds of clothes you will need on your days off. 

We’ve done research for you too – see a list of The Best States to Travel Nurse In

Know Before You Go

Before you start packing for your 13 week travel contract, find out what is included in your accommodation. This ensures you aren’t bringing things that are already included in your stay, like plates or a coffee maker! When researching different housing options try and look for ones that include these additional features. This helps make your life a lot easier by not having to pack as much!

Be Realistic

Too many times we have heard of travelers dragging their crock pot, skis, and TVs to their location only to use them a few times. Be realistic with yourself. If you are at home and only use certain items once or twice within a 13 week time frame, will you likely use it on your contract when you are busy exploring new places and restaurants? Probably not. Be honest with yourself and your expectations for this next adventure and packing will be a breeze.

Don’t Procrastinate

Preparing suitcase for summer vacation trip. Young woman checking accessories and stuff in luggage on the bed at home before travel.

This may seem like a no brainer but once you’ve done your research on your next location, don’t let packing for your next contract slip your mind. When we procrastinate, we tend to go into a panic over the little time we have left and forget silly things – like a phone charger!

Avoid procrastination and ensure you are sufficiently packed by creating a travel nurse packing checklist like the one below.

Travel Nurse Packing Checklist:


  • Scrubs (make sure to follow facility guidelines)
  • Gym Clothes
  • Going out outfits
  • Relevant sports attire (snow pants, ski goggles, basketball shoes, etc.)
  • Pajamas
  • Socks
  • Undergarments
  • Jewelry and accessories
  • Hats and headbands
  • Comfortable work shoes
  • Casual shoes for your days off

Check the weather of the location you will be traveling to. If you are big into recreational sports you may decide to pack your own gear. Keep in mind there are also many great rental options for skis, surf, and biking if you want to save room while traveling. Many travelers agree that only one or two nice outfits for going out on the town with new friends or grabbing dinner is necessary. Every traveler is different though, so pack what you think you will realistically wear.

Work Essentials

  • Stethoscope
  • 2-3 pairs of scrubs
  • Favorite pens
  • Comfy shoes
  • Your signed travel contract
  • Your employee handbook
  • Contact information for your recruiter and nurse manager
  • Lunch Bag
  • Water bottle


  • Glasses
  • Medication
  • Contacts

Make sure you have enough medication or contacts to get you through your contract. If not, call your doctor and make sure they can send your prescription to a nearby drugstore in your new location.


  • 1 pot
  • 1 frying pan
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Plates
  • Cutlery
  • Coffee pot or tea kettle
  • Mug and drinking glasses
  • Dish towels
  • Dish soap

Make sure to check your accommodations to see what is included. Some short-term rentals come with stocked with everything you need to cook and eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Another option is visiting a local Target and Ikea upon arrival to purchase kitchen basics. Both stores have a great selection of kitchen essentials at affordable prices.

Bathroom and Toiletries

  • Towel
  • Hand towel
  • Hand soap
  • Shower gel
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body lotion and skin creams
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Floss & mouthwash
  • Deodorant
  • Razors and shaving cream
  • Cosmetics
  • Makeup remover
  • Hairbrush
  • Nail clipper and nail file
  • First aid kit

Many of the toiletries that you would want can be purchased at your travel location. This saves you the space while packing for your 13-week travel nurse contract. If you do pack your own toiletries be sure to pack your shampoos and lotions in Ziploc bags to avoid accidental leaks.


  • Kindle
  • Apple Watch
  • Speaker
  • Laptop or iPad
  • Cell phone
  • Chargers

We live in the age of technology! Don’t forget to pack all your must-have electronics and their chargers.


  • Favorite pillow
  • Cozy blankets
  • Sound machine
  • Fan
  • Eye mask

The bedroom should feel like your sanctuary to be able to recharge after a long shift. Pack the essentials that will ensure your short-term housing feels like your home away from home.

By following these six tips for packing for a 13-week travel contract, you’ll be ready to pack efficiently for an epic adventure in your new contract location!

Wondering what happens when you cancel a contract, or how travel nursing works? Our other blogs are here for guidance!