For many travel nurses, “missing home”, “being lonely” or “just tired of being alone” are a few reasons why they may second guess their decision or stop travel nursing completely.
The opportunity to see the country and make great money are two of the top motivation for why nurses decide to travel. With so many travel nursing jobs from Vermont to Washington, signing a contract to be a travel nurse for 8-13 weeks at a time can be a lot of fun and an exciting career move! But, it is also a fact that there are several drawbacks to living and working away from home: feeling lonely and getting homesick.
Homesickness affects all travel nurses. Whether you are a “seasoned traveler” or starting your very first contract, we want to share real life advice from some of our current travelers on how to handle the inevitable homesick feeling or the “lonely nurse travel blues” while you’re on assignment:
Try Online Dating
IF you are SINGLE, it is the most practical way to meet new people. Dating sites like Match and Tinder will allow you join for a month or longer and provide an ideal way to start discussions before you arrive at your new destination. Have you been eyeing that taco place a few blocks from the hospital? Why not arrange to meet there to try it out? Or, go somewhere familiar: meet for coffee at your go-to coffee shop in the area. As always, make safety a priority: always meet in a public place first and let a friend, family or co-worker know of your plans.
Be friendly at your New Hire Orientation
During orientation, you will meet other nurses who are also new to the hospital and to the city. Offer your contact information and set up a time to meet after orientation. They can also be a great resource for housing, finding the closest hair or nail salon, the most convenient grocery store, or to catch a new movie. Be open to hanging out and connecting outside of work. Know that they too, may be feeling as homesick or lonely as you.
Jump into the local community.
Google “things to do” for your city or town. Do you love animals? Check out the local shelter and find out about volunteer opportunities such as walking the dogs or helping out in general. Check out local functions, such as festivals, church or community events online. Ask one of the core staff and/or new co-worker to recommend their favorite local restaurants. Perhaps suggest meeting for lunch or dinner on a day off. Alternatively, Groupon always advertises a list of “things to do” in the area you can try out for reduced rates. These are great ways to get to know area and meet others with common interests.
Get Social Online.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great ways to stay connected with old and meet new friends. On Facebook, search “travel nursing groups” and join several that you have common or shared interests such: the Gypsy Nurse, Nursing Memes and Nomadic Nursing-a Travel Nurse Housing Page, just to name a few. Instagram is a great platform to post those amazing pictures from your road trip and share your travel nursing life in pictures. There is a large group of travel nurses sharing and connecting experiences online. Many travel nurses become friends and stay connected through social media. Find other travel nurses in your area/city for a real life “meet up” social event. Follow these hashtags to connect with fellow Go Healthcare Travelers on their travel contract: #gotravelRN #GoRNtravelers.
Schedule “Time Off” to reconnect.
Take advantage of being your new “contract employee” status and make “Personal Time Off” a priority. Make sure to request one or even two weeks off after you end your contract and before you begin another contract. Allow yourself some downtime and schedule some fun in between travel assignments. This is the time to go back home or plan a well deserved trip with friends or family.
Traveling solo does not have to mean traveling lonely. Know that you will feel homesick every once in awhile, but the beauty of travel nursing is that a travel contract is not forever: its only 3 months. You can always go back home. Eventually, the independence and flexibility of being a traveler will help overcome the occasional “lonely traveler blues”!