Travel nurses love the adventure of being in a new location every 13 weeks. We thrive on being rootless and calling the road our home. Yet, it can be daunting when you are a little mouse in a big world. Read on for “14 tips for travel nurses exploring a new city.”
14 Tips For Travel Nurses Exploring a New City
1. Do an Online Search
Before I arrive to a new assignment, I always do online research. I join Facebook groups in the area and I introduce myself in forums. I follow the city newspaper, magazine, and website. Research the laws of your new state to avoid embarrassment. For example, there are 2 states where you are not allowed to pump your own gas. Maybe it is just my awkward anxiety issues but this was terrifying for me. I should’ve read a how-to guide on how to let someone pump your gas for you. I was so nervous that I left the car running! I’m still nervous about getting out of my car to clean the windshield. Am I allowed to clean my own windshield, Oregonians? Am I alone in this confusion? Anyway, the internet is an easy and convenient tool for researching your new home from afar.
2. Make a “Bucket List”
A fun way to lessen your fears is to make a list of activities that you want to do during your assignment. It makes the stress of moving feel worth it. I enjoy creating a board on Pinterest but the traditional pen and paper work just fine.
3. Read the Newspaper
The internet is vast and wonderful. However, the local paper is still the best way to find out about events in the area. This is hands-down my favorite way to learn about my new home.
4. Learn the Culture
Make sure you take the time to learn about the culture. I lived in the same midwestern town and did not get out much. When I finally got the opportunity to travel, I learned that there are many different cultures within the states. Sometimes, you will even need a translator. For an example, check out my Vermont to Indiana dictionary.
5. Learn the History
Some cities and towns have guided tours and you may learn some local secrets that a guidebook just won’t tell you. I recently took a historic trolley tour after living in the area for 5 weeks and I wish I had done it sooner.
6. Walk the town
The best way to get to know a new area is by walking. There are so many hidden gems that get missed when you’re going 50 mph. Slow things down and walk the neighborhood soon after you arrive. (Bonus: It’s healthy and good for the environment!)
7. Talk to locals
I like to blend in as quickly as possible. I don’t want people to see me as a tourist. I’m genuinely fantastic at the “blending in” game. I consistently get asked for directions while on vacation. Anyway, tell a local that you just moved to the area and you are almost guaranteed to get valuable information.
8. Support Local Businesses
Buy local! Check out the farmer’s market. Eat at a local restaurant or read a book by a local author. My personal favorite things to try are local wines and ice creams. Shout out to Cincinnati-based Graeter’s black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream and the moscato at Foris Vineyards in southern Oregon.
9. Download the AllTrails App
If you enjoy hiking, download the AllTrails App to find local trails near you. Users rate their experience and give advice to other hikers. It’s like TripAdvisor for hiking.
10. Follow local bloggers
Find bloggers in your area and follow them on social media or subscribe to their newsletter.
I have a preschooler, G. Baby, so the library is a give-in for us. However, it is a fantastic resource for local events, group meetings, and educational programs. Get yourself a library card and you can have access to free books and eBooks.
12. Grocery store
This one may seem silly but bear with me. Find your grocery store. I didn’t consider this a priority until I took my first assignment in Vermont. The closest Wal-Mart was a 45-minute drive. Therefore, we had to make a lifestyle change.
13. Find Like-Minded Humans
This is the most difficult step for me, personally. Many people are surprised to hear that I am an introvert. I love my alone time and I don’t get terribly upset if I don’t make new friends right away. I’d rather hang out on my couch writing to strangers than meeting up with people in real life. But hey, we are all humans and we NEED each other to survive. If you don’t want to rely on coworker friendships, look for groups with similar interests. Meetup, Facebook groups, and local libraries are great resources. For nurses traveling with their family, I highly recommend Hike it Baby, a volunteer-based group encouraging families with children to get outdoors. Hike it Baby has been a great way for G. Baby and me to make new friends while learning about our new home. They have branches nationwide!
14. Drive to your facility BEFORE the 1st day
You are probably going to be nervous on your first day of work. Before your start date, due a trial run. Drive the route that you will take to work. Check out the parking situation and find out what building you are supposed to meet in. You get bonus points if you do this at the same time you will be driving the route in “real life”. This will give you an idea of the traffic situation and what time you should be leaving each day.
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