A woman sitting in the grass with her hands in a yoga pose.

The Importance of Self-Care for Travel Nurses: 8 Tips and Strategies


Travel nursing is an exciting, albeit demanding profession. It combines the challenge of delivering high-quality healthcare with the thrill of visiting new locations. While the unique rewards of this profession are abundant, the demands and pressures are also significant. By incorporating self-care practices into their routines, travel nurses navigate the challenges of their profession and continue to deliver exceptional care to their patients.

According to this survey, over 34% of nurses rated their emotional health as not, or not at all, emotionally healthy. Most nurses surveyed said they have felt stressed (75%), frustrated (69%), and overwhelmed (62%). This makes self-care for travel nurses an absolute necessity, and in this blog, we delve into why this is so crucial and provide tips and strategies for effective self-care.


The Significance of Self-Care for Travel Nurses


For travel nurses, the pressure isn’t just about dealing with the complexities of patient care. There are added factors such as adapting to new work environments, integrating into different teams, adjusting to varied schedules, and dealing with the emotional stress of being away from home. All these problems take a toll on their mental and physical well-being, leading to burnout if not properly managed. Therefore, practicing self-care is crucial for travel nurses to maintain their overall health and well-being.

This is where self-care comes in. When done right, it increases resilience, decreases stress, and improves overall job satisfaction. Regular self-care activities help prevent burnout, maintain mental clarity, enhance productivity, and contribute to better patient care.


1. Prioritize Your Sleep

Sleep is one of the most vital components of self-care, yet it’s often overlooked or underprioritized in favor of more immediate tasks. Lack of sleep causes impaired cognitive function, mood swings, decreased immunity, and heightened stress. It is reported that a person with inadequate sleep is ten times more likely to experience symptoms of depression and 17 times more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety.

For travel nurses, a regular sleep schedule might be challenging due to changing shifts and time zones, but it is essential for recovery and performance. Try to ensure you are getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Utilize tools such as blackout curtains, sleep masks, and earplugs to create a conducive sleep environment wherever you are, no matter what time of day it is. This is most crucial for nurses that work the night shift.


2. Nourish Your Body

Proper nutrition is vital for maintaining energy levels, supporting immune function, and fostering overall well-being. On the move, it’s easy to resort to quick, convenient, but often unhealthy food options. Take time to plan and prepare meals packed with nutritious ingredients or opt for healthier take-out choices.

Some examples of healthy snacks on the go could include: trail mix, avocado chicken salad, protein bars, jerky, veggies and dip, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, or protein shakes. These are just a few suggestions. There are many more out there. You won’t feel the need to reach for the vending machine food if you have something easy at your disposal. Hydration is also crucial, so make sure to drink enough water throughout the day. Keep a refillable water bottle on hand and make a mental note to continually drink from it throughout the workday and on your days off as well.


3. Stay Active

Regular physical activity not only promotes cardiovascular health but also aids in stress relief. Incorporating exercise into your routine is challenging, especially when settling into a new location. Try activities that are done anywhere, like yoga, walking, or bodyweight exercises. Are you traveling to a new location that has awesome hiking trails? Go explore the great outdoors and research local parks to hike or rock climb.

Are you by bodies of water? Go for a beach day, take a swim and breathe in that fresh air!


4. Connect with Others

Though travel nursing offers exciting opportunities to meet new people, it also feels isolating at times, especially when far away from family and friends. Being away from family and friends is emotionally challenging. Make it a point to stay connected with your loved ones. Regular video calls, texts, or emails helps reduce feelings of isolation and homesickness. Use your commute to talk to loved ones. Or video chat while you are doing the dishes or making dinner.

Making sure you take the time to regularly check in with your family and friends while on assignment helps your mental health tremendously.

Want to meet new friends? Check out local hangout spots, ask a coworker to get dinner one night after work or find a local group that has interests in the same hobbies as you (knitting clubs, book clubs, hiking groups, running groups, etc…).


5. Enjoy Your New Surroundings

Make the most of your new location. Explore the local sights, try new foods and engage with the community. This helps you feel more connected and less like an outsider in your temporary home.

Although some of us plan months in advance and have a strict to-do list to check off, others prefer to be more spontaneous! Sometimes, having no expectations leaves more room for fun and more authentic discoveries. So, what do you do when you’re in a place you’ve never been before? How do you find the best things to do in a new city?

Whether you’re looking for off-the-beaten-path adventures or to hit up the classic tourist destinations, here are some suggestions for finding things to do while on assignment:

A white background with a black and white logo


  • Read local publications.
  • Check out travel pages on Instagram and Pinterest.
  • Use Yelp as your guide.
  • Groupon coupons for fun activities.
  • Ask locals for the best restaurants in the area.
  • Google concerts coming to town.
  • Join Facebook Groups and check out Facebook events.
  • Discover local vendors and markets for shopping.

6. Embrace Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves being fully present and engaged in the moment, a practice that helps manage stress, anxiety, and enhances overall well-being. In a recent study, mindfulness and meditation improved anxiety levels by 60% and increased employees’ productivity by 120%.

How do you incorporate mindfulness into your own life? Simple ways to practice mindfulness include meditation, deep breathing exercises, or even just enjoying a peaceful walk. Regularly practicing mindfulness provides a grounding experience amidst the constant changes inherent in travel nursing.


7. Allocate Time for Relaxation

When you’re constantly on the go, downtime feels like wasted time. However, rest is essential to recharge and prevent burnout. Whether it’s watching a movie, reading a book, or simply enjoying a hot bath with a glass of red wine, make sure to schedule relaxation time into your routine. Remember, it’s not indulgent to take time for yourself; it’s necessary.


8. Seek Professional Help When Needed

Despite our best efforts, sometimes self-care strategies are not enough, and that’s okay. Recognize when you need additional support and don’t hesitate to seek professional help. This could involve speaking to a mental health professional or seeking advice from a dietitian, physiotherapist, or any other health professional relevant to your needs.


The importance of self-care for travel nurses is not overstated. Self-care for travel nurses is not just a luxury—it’s a necessity. It’s an ongoing commitment that requires conscious effort and consistency. By incorporating these strategies into your routine, you enhance your overall well-being, resilience and job satisfaction as you continue on your rewarding journey as a travel nurse. With a focus on sleep, nutrition, physical activity, social connection, mindfulness, relaxation and seeking help when necessary, you ensure that you’re taking the best possible care of yourself.

Remember, taking care of yourself isn’t just about improving your own life—it’s about being the best version of you for the patients who depend on you. After all, to deliver excellent care to others, you first need to care for yourself.

Need help to find your next travel nursing assignment? We are here to help. Reach out today and we will have a recruiter working with you quickly.


About Voca: The Spirit of Work

Voca is a relationship organization focused on uniting talented healthcare professionals across nursing and allied, as well as travel and local with exceptional companies. Headquartered in Rochester, MN, Voca works coast-to-coast supporting national, regional, and local healthcare companies. Voca is proud to be certified by The Joint Commission, which evaluates and accredits healthcare staffing agency organizations and programs in the United States. We are committed to creating and maintaining a workplace in which all employees have an opportunity to participate and contribute to our mutual success and are valued for their skills, experience, and unique perspective. For more information, visit https://myvoca.com/.