Travel Nursing: Taking Care of Yourself on Contract

While on a travel nurse contract, don’t get so busy taking care of others and enjoying your temporary home that you forget to take care of yourself. We’ve provided some quick reminders about diet, fitness and stress, and we encourage you to learn more using the below resources. Healthy travel nurses are happy travel nurses!


We’re all knowledgeable about what foods we should be eating, but it’s sometimes difficult to eat right day-to-day while working as a travel nurse. The night-shift might have you reaching for a late-night vending machine pick-me-up, packed with sugar and low on nutrients. A busy caseload and you may skip a meal only to combat excessive hunger later. Or, your current workplace may not provide many health-conscious meal or snack options on-site.

Set yourself up for small wins at work by keeping healthy snacks in your locker. Fresh fruit, nuts, granola or small amounts of protein you can eat quickly, like tuna in a packet, are all good options. For main meals, avoid empty-calorie foods, and seek options that are low in sodium, sugar and saturated fats. Try the USDA SuperTracker to look up nutrition info and stick to a custom daily food plan.


Travel nursing has you on your feet often, but it’s still important to get in aerobic physical activity a few times a week, as well as muscle-strengthening activities. According to, adults aged 18 to 64 years, “should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.”

Examples of moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, water aerobics and ballroom dancing. Vigorous physical activity options you may try include hiking, jogging/running or bicycling at a speed of 10 mph or faster. Muscle-strengthening activities, such as weight training or body-weight resistance training, should be done at least two days a week.


According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the regular physical activity you’ll work in can relieve mental and physical tension that leads to stress. But nursing–even travel nursing–can be a stressful job! If you find yourself feeling stress, try the AHA’s four tips to manage stress:

  • Positive Self-Talk – Negative self-talk (“I can’t do this”) increases stress levels. Combat stress by telling yourself positive things like, “I’ve got this” or “I can deal with this situation.”
  • Emergency Stress Stoppers – Deal with stress on the spot by keeping a few of these ideas in your back pocket. Count to 10 before you speak. Go for a walk. Break negative cycles with meditation or prayer. Or even walk away from an immediate stressful situation, acknowledging that you can handle it later.
  • Finding Pleasure – Stressed? Do something that makes you feel good! Work on a hobby. Play a sport. Read a favorite book or watch a movie.
  • Daily Relaxation – Yoga, tai chi and meditation are all good forms of relaxation that soothe your tension. Deep breathing is a form of relaxation you can practice at home, and eventually you can use this skill whenever–and wherever–you feel stressed.

Learn more about each of the above stress-management techniques on the AHA website.