1. Get up to date on your immunizations. Make sure you’ve had all of your vaccinations, including influenza and whooping cough, before starting a new job. Many facilities will have a list of required immunizations, but you can check out the CDC’s recommended vaccines for healthcare workers as well.
2. Invest in your car. Unless you fly to your destination and rent a vehicle for your assignment, your car will take you to your new home and, most likely, to and from work. Have a mechanic you trust inspect it, and get any problems fixed before you leave home. If you’ll be driving in snow, consider investing in snow or all-terrain tires, and if you’re headed to a desert, be sure the air conditioning is working. Finally, get an oil change and tire rotation regularly, and remind yourself to get a tune-up in your new area before you drive back home.
3. Set up online or automatic bill pay. Decrease your chances of lost mail or identity theft by going paperless and having all your bills sent electronically. In some cases, you can have bills automatically paid each month via your checking account.
4. Notify the post office that you’re leaving. For mail you can’t redirect to your inbox, fill out a change of address form with the post office. It takes time for mail to be forwarded, however, so ensure important mail arrives quickly by telling friends and family your new address once you have it.
5. Give a key to a trusted friend or family member. Even if you don’t have any pets or plants and are confident that your home will be fine while you’re away, it’s a good idea to have a family member or friend check in occasionally or have a key in case something happens (or you forget something at home).
6. Start organizing and cleaning your home. There are few things worse than coming home from an extended trip to a sink full of dishes and an overflowing laundry hamper. Even before you get your assignment, spend a few hours here and there getting rid of things you don’t need, dusting furniture and cleaning your bathrooms and kitchen. When you’re ready to go, give anything perishable in the fridge to your neighbors or throw it away. Make sure your home is as clean as possible before you leave so you don’t spend all your time tidying it up when you return.
7. Store important numbers and addresses in your phone. Keep contact information for repairmen, doctors, landscapers and other people you may need to get a hold of back home in your phone so you don’t have to search for them later.
8. Ask someone to take care of your lawn. Everyone knows you’re away when your grass is jagged and weeds are choking the flowerbeds. Ask a neighbor or hire someone to care for your lawn while you’re gone — or, if you don’t have a yard, collect any mail that doesn’t get forwarded (e.g., ads and magazines).
9. Take photos of important documents. Before you leave home, use your phone to snap pictures of your driver’s license, birth certificate, passport and other papers you might need. Also, make sure these important items are stored in a secure place while you’re gone.
10. Let your bank know you’ll be out of town. Avoid calls from the bank about fraudulent charges by telling them where you’re headed on your travel nursing assignment before you leave.