Career & Finances | ICU | Original Content | Specialties | Travel

Packing List, Tips and Tricks for the ICU Travel Nurse

  • Beginning an ICU travel nursing assignment is stressful enough as it is, so let us provide you with a brief packing guide!
  • From the essential documentation, to extra family photos, we’ve got everything you need!
  • Check out Nursing CE Central’s packing guide for the ICU travel nurse!
Morgan Curry, RN/BSN

Morgan Curry, BSN / RN

Intensive Care, Outpatient Surgery, Aesthetics, Education, and Nursing Leadership

July 23, 2021
Simmons University

Are you preparing to embark on your first ICU travel nurse assignment and you’re not sure what to pack? 

Or are you a seasoned professional who might just need a quick refresher? 

Nonetheless, ensuring that you have packed everything you may need before beginning your shift as an ICU travel nurse can be stressful, so I am here to help! 

Check out our guide to packing the essentials and everything in between!  

The Essentials

Although you might think you know what the necessities are for an ICU travel nurse job, let’s break it down just as a refresher. Check it out: 


Aaron Stanley at Medical Staff Agencies (MAS) credits this one as being the number one item you must pack with you before beginning your venture as an ICU travel nurse.  

Of course, it’s always good practice to travel with your driver’s license, but check out some of the other examples of essential documentation that you need to bring with you: 

  • Social security card 
  • Birth certificate (copy) 
  • Nursing license and credentials 
  • Car insurance and roadside assistance (if applicable) 
  • Travel documents (tickets, passport, etc.) 
  • Contact information for staffing company and recruiter 
  • Details of your temporary lodging 


This one is a given, but there are a few points we should cover here just to ensure that you’ve got everything you need while also packing light enough to travel anywhere! 

Travel health care agency, Nomad Health, offers a thorough guide for packing clothing you will need throughout your new ICU travel nurse assignment. It includes:  

  • Clothing for relaxing 
  • Formal evening wear 
  • Sports/exercise 
  • Jackets/layers (location dependent) 
  • Rain gear 
  • Scrubs (several pair and check workplace guidelines) + accessories (see our Nursing Accessories blog) 
  • Comfortable work shoes 
  • Swimsuit (location dependent) 


This one totally depends on your preferences and routine, but ensuring that you have packed any necessary toiletries is quite important before embarking on your new ICU travel nurse job! 

Some of the not-so-basic items that you might forget include: 

  • Hair care (brushes, styling tools, accessories, etc.) 
  • Skin care (cleansers, serums, sunscreen) 
  • Makeup 
  • Feminine hygiene products (if applicable)


This solely depends on your preferences and how often you use your electronic devices but for me, I always triple check to ensure that I have packed my chargers for my phone, laptop, and Apple Watch!

 ICU travel nurse packing list, tips and tricks

The Extras

Of course, not every travel nursing job is going to have the same time frames, locations, and living conditions, so it is vital that you factor in any additional belongings that you might need to bring with you. 

These might include:  

  • Bedding, pillows, and blankets
  • Small pieces of furniture (nightstand, coffee table, chairs, etc.)
  • Coffee maker
  • Pictures of family, friends, and pets
  • Books/hobby materials

 Although this is a very small, concise list, travel nursing blog, The Gypsy Nurse, highlights that it is essential to make your new assignment housing feel like home, as you might be there for several months at a time.  


Packing Tips & Tricks

Industry recognized authority for travel nurses,, stresses “packing light, is packing right,” and that if you are beginning your journey as an ICU travel nurse, you do not want to deal with the stressors of over packing. 

What if your suitcase weighs over the limit at the airport? What if your favorite coffee maker doesn’t fit in your small coupe vehicle? 

There are so many factors that go into beginning a career as an ICU travel nurse, but over packing can start you off on the wrong foot, quickly.  

Once you’ve obtained everything that you need in order to begin packing, here are a few tips that I have learned through my days of traveling that I would like to share with you: 

  1. Always roll your clothes, do not fold them.  
  2. Pack a bag for dirty laundry. 
  3. Keep shoes inside a plastic/disposable bag. 
  4. Maximize your space by using packing cubes. 

I hope this small packing guide has helped you prepare for your upcoming ICU travel nurse assignment! 

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