You know that amazing feeling you get after discovering an awesome new restaurant or finding a hike that’s off the beaten path? When you take travel nursing jobs, you can have these feelings all the time — that is, if you know where to look. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or just starting your first assignment, these eight tips for making friends on a travel nursing job can help you find new places and activities you’ll love (and new people to share them with).
1. Join a Meetup group
One of the simplest ways to find people that share your interests is searching for local Meetup groups. Visit the Meetup website, put in your zip code, and then browse available groups for one that looks fun. You can find friends who want to play sports, go to brunch, discuss political interests, explore the outdoors, make crafts, and even play board games. Once you join Meetup and select a group you like, you can get all the details on meeting times and connect with members in person.
2. Use Facebook to find upcoming events
It’s not just for stalking your ex or getting sucked into BuzzFeed quizzes anymore. Facebook is a great place to find events in your neighborhood and invite new coworkers or neighbors to join you. Click on events from the “explore” category on your Facebook homepage and search for upcoming events in categories like music, art, parties, causes, comedy, crafts, drinks, film, health, and literature. You can commit to going (you can always change your mind later) or select “interested,” and Facebook will send you reminders about the events as they get closer.
3. Head to the library
Maybe the library isn’t a great place to meet new friends, since you’re encouraged to be quiet, but it is a great place for free events like lectures, movie showings, book signings and author discussions, and cultural celebrations. If you’re traveling with your children, the library is also a fun place to visit. Many of them offer free story time, puppet shows, and reading programs to help your child learn to love books.
4. Find a local outdoor gear store
If you want the scoop on the best hikes, rock climbing areas, bike trails or ski slopes in your new city, head to an outdoor retailer. Store windows are often chock-full of flyers for different clubs and organizations, and the store employees can tell you their favorite spots — and the places you should avoid. You may meet some new friends while shopping for gear as well. Many of these retailers also sponsor guided group outings you can sign up for that include package deals on food or transportation.
5. Ask your coworkers for advice
You probably asked your coworkers for the best grocery store or even the cheapest gas station when you first got to town. Did you ask them what their favorite thing to do in the city is? Or what every new tourist should experience? Mix these questions in with standard ones about great restaurants and theaters to find new places you might not otherwise discover. You can also invite them along for the evening.
6. Ask restaurant owners for suggestions
After you eat at a new restaurant, talk to chefs and servers about their favorite places to eat in the area. Chances are good that they’re foodies and will know great cafes and pubs you might not know about. If they’ve lived in the area for a while, they may also have tips for theaters, galleries, parks and nature sights.
7. Don’t be afraid to be a tourist
Your coworkers may steer you clear of experiences that are too “touristy,” but ignore them (unless something doesn’t sound appealing). This is your chance to see the city in a short time, so embrace the opportunity and book a guided walking tour, visit the famous cheese factory, or trek to the neon-painted rock garden. You may end up finding way more than you expected.
8. Mark your calendar with events
Finally, try making real appointments with yourself to recharge and have fun while you’re on assignment. Make the most of your free time by setting event reminders in your phone or physically marking them on a wall calendar. For example, if you have Tuesday evenings off, you might decide to try a new restaurant that day each week. Or you might decide to go to a new park, museum, or bookstore every week. Whatever you decide, try to stick to your routine. Having something to look forward to each week can help prevent depression and homesickness.
Have you discovered something amazing while on your travel nursing assignment? Send pictures and reviews to your recruiter. We’d love to hear about them and feature them on our blog!