For some, travel nursing provides the opportunity to work in a large city without making a long-term commitment to live there, making it the perfect adventure for big-city lovers. However, bigger cities can provide their daily challenges and can affect your experience there if you don’t plan ahead.
Here are our top 10 tips for travel nurses considering a position in big cities. Embrace the challenges and adventure – that’s what makes it fun!
1. Learn the bus and subway system
The subway, the Metro, The El…Depending on where you choose to move, public transit is your best friend when it comes to getting around town. You’ll quickly learn that taking the bus or train downtown and to certain other parts of the city is faster and much less hassle then taking a car or Uber, plus it will save you a ton of money and stress when it comes to parking. Be sure to download your city’s public transit app for your phone, but even then, have a good general idea of how the trains run in case you have no reception or battery on your phone.
2. Leave extra time for travel
Unless you’re a block away from work, the days of leaving 10 minutes before you need to be somewhere are over! You’re going to run into delays everywhere you go, even if you take public transportation. The key is to always leave extra time. For example, don’t take the train that gets you to your destination right on time, take the one that arrives 45 minutes before you need to get there. Test your route before your first day, then plan to leave at least 30 minutes sooner than you would have left before in just about any case.
3. Sell your car (or don’t bring it)
If you have a car, sell it or don’t bring it to the big city. As you’ve learned, driving doesn’t save time in most cases. Parking can be insanely expensive if you want to put your car in a garage, which can be many blocks away from your destination. You’ll also run into ever-changing parking regulations that vary from day-to-day and block-to-block. Do yourself a big favor and don’t burden yourself with a car. If you must bring one along, get a firm understanding of the parking policies near your housing and near your work.
4. Invest in a cold weather jacket
Walk around outside in New York or Chicago in the winter and you’ll notice one thing – the locals look like they’re going on a Siberian hike, but at least they’re warm. If you’re going to be in the Northeast or Chicago in the winter months, invest in a warm jacket. Make sure it has a hood (fur-lining cuts down on the wind) and goes down to your thighs or knees. With all the options out there, you can be fashionable and warm at the same time.
5. Invest in good walking shoes
As a nurse, you know what it feels like to be on your feet all day. There is nothing fashionable about blisters on your feet or walking with a limp, so make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes when commuting. You never know when you’ll have to walk blocks at a time due to a late bus or subway delay. Chances are you’ll have them on already for work!
6. Find roommates
Having roommates in a large city has several benefits. First, it helps your split the cost of rent, which if you haven’t already figured out, is insanely high. Second, big cities can often feel like lonely places despite there being so many people there. Everyone is busy with their own thing, so having someone you can socialize with and share your experiences will make it more comfortable. If roommates aren’t your thing, consider living a little outside the city. In many cases this can be cheaper, but the commute can take quite a bit longer. Always remember to do your research so you know all the options available to you.
7. Make your own coffee
Nurses love coffee. And we drink a lot of it. In a big city, that daily cup can add up quickly as the cost of living is higher. Having a reliable coffee machine and making your own coffee before you leave the house will end up saving you a lot of money over the course of your contract.
8. Cash is king
It feels like anything can be bought with a debit card these days, but in a pinch, cash is still king. You never know when a machine might be down and you need something to eat, a subway ticket or a bus pass. While it’s not wise to carry hundreds of dollars on you, having $20-$40 in cash at all times could save you in a pinch.
9. Keep your cell phone charged
Your phone will help you navigate the city, communicate with friends, master public transportation and find the best attractions. But if you run out of battery, you could end up lost or stuck somewhere especially if you don’t know your city well yet. Obviously, you’ll want to charge your phone each night, but having a charging case or external battery pack will make sure you’re never at 0%.
10. Put yourself out there and make friends
Local friends or experienced travelers can be your lifeline to learning the interworkings of life in your new city. Find people you relate well to and let them show you where to find the best slice of pizza and the cheapest happy hours. You’ll need a support system, and friends give you the confidence you’ll need to flourish and the tools that will keep you safe. Reach out to other travelers that might want to explore and share the adventures the cities can offer. Don’t be afraid to meet new people, try new experiences and open yourself up to the big city!