Starting a new travel nursing assignment in an unfamiliar city away from loved ones can be thrilling but also challenging.
While you may be eager for new adventures, it’s common to feel occasional pangs of homesickness when you’re far from family and longtime friends.
Here are some top tips to overcome homesickness and stay connected to your support system while you’re on the road.
Make an effort to regularly call, text, email, or video chat with close family and friends back home.
Discuss which frequency and format of communication works best for both parties’ schedules.
Block out designated times during the week that align with everyone’s availability. Services like FaceTime, Google Meet, Skype, or WhatsApp make it easy to see loved ones’ faces in real time.
Exchange funny stories, share photos, and listen to what’s happening in each other’s lives to feel connected even when you’re apart.
Schedule Virtual Game and Movie Nights
Technology makes it possible to do many activities together virtually that you would normally do in person.
Schedule regular video chat game nights to play Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, or Charades together. Pick a TV series to watch separately and discuss together.
Have themed recipe swap parties where you all cook the same dish in different cities then compare your creations. Making something that’s a family favorite – say, your Mom’s mac and cheese or grandma’s sweet potato pie – will have you reminiscing but without wallowing.
Finding creative ways to interact and bond from afar alleviates isolation.
Share Your Travels
Part of what makes travel nursing exciting is the opportunity to explore new places. Share this journey with your loved ones so they can experience it with you.
Post photos of your travels on social media and have video calls where you give “tours” of your city and hospital. Email funny anecdotes or observations as they happen so your family feels “along for the ride.”
Seeing your adventures helps family and friends understand your new lifestyle.
Mail Care Packages
Receiving heartfelt snail mail in the form of care packages, letters or postcards can instantly cheer up a homesick traveler.
Ask your loved ones to mail you small comforts of home, like homemade cookies, photos, stickers from your nieces and nephews, or clipped articles you’d find interesting. In return, mail local postcards and mementos from your travels to give them a taste of your assignments.
Keeping your own supply of greeting cards on hand lets you easily send notes to brighten someone’s day.
Display Touchstones of Home
Surround yourself with familiar objects, photos, or scents that evoke positive memories of family to make an unfamiliar apartment feel homier.
Frame and display treasured photos of loved ones in your living space. Keep cozy blankets you associate with family movie nights on the couch, or decorate with art from home.
Burn a favorite soothing candle or diffuse an essential oil reminiscent of celebrations with your people. Displaying touchstones reduces detachment.
Bond with Fellow Travelers
Other travel nurses on assignment likely experience pangs of homesickness too. Bond over shared stories of family traditions, favorite hometown spots, and navigating a nomadic lifestyle.
Some may become your surrogate family and social support while on the road together.
Widen your community by joining Travel Nurse Facebook groups to connect with fellow travelers nationwide for camaraderie. You’re all in this together!
Use Storage for Infrequently Needed Items
Rather than fully moving and removing all belongings each time you relocate for an assignment, utilize storage units to keep items you won’t need quick access to. This relieves the burden of constantly packing unwieldy items. Store off-season clothing, holiday décor, family heirlooms, and hobbies or sports gear you rarely use.
Keep them safe until you return home or settle into a permanent residence. Paying for a quality storage unit also prevents relying on family for storage space.
Ship Essentials to Each Location
While you’ll need to pack light, certain sentimental or useful items are worth shipping so they’re on hand for each assignment.
Send a box ahead with framed photos, favorite coffee mugs, valued hobby supplies, or must-have cooking tools that help any rental feel familiar. This saves you from living out of a suitcase and not having access to items that ground you.
Ask your housing company if they accept packages on your behalf prior to move-in.
Splurge on Flights Home
Budgeting to fly home 1-2 times during longer (13+ week) assignments can be worthwhile for your emotional health.
Work with your recruiter to identify ideal times for a quick trip between contracts.
Scout flight deals, and leverage airline miles to cut costs. Getting an occasional “fix” of quality time with your people can refresh you mentally and physically.
Even short visits can curb homesickness until you reunite again.
Immerse in Your Surroundings
Counter homesickness by fully engaging your new surroundings.
Introduce yourself to neighbors and coworkers. Explore diverse restaurants and cultural attractions. Trek to an alluring hiking trail or waterfront view. Wandering with curiosity transforms your perception of a location from unfamiliar to a temporary home.
Allow each place to get under your skin. Immerse yourself in the beauty and spirit of communities being a traveler allows you to temporarily inhabit.
The excitement of travel nursing adventures balanced with a natural longing for the familiarity of loved ones creates a dichotomy.
By maintaining frequent communication, integrating family into your travels virtually, surrounding yourself with touchstones of home, bonding with fellow nomads, and fully engaging your temporary communities, you can manage homesickness.
Stay connected to your roots while still spreading your wings.