The Ultimate Guide to Packing for a Locum Tenens Assignment

While accepting a locum tenens assignment in a new location can be exciting, spending time in an unfamiliar place can also be intimidating — especially if it’s your first time. Many first-time locum tenens providers wonder what to bring to their destinations, especially with little background information on the culture, weather, and dressing code. 

Over time, you'll learn how to travel efficiently and do it with all of your necessary gear stowed in the right place, in the right way. If questions about climate, what to wear, what to bring, and how to pack it all efficiently are swirling about in your headspace, keep reading for some simple tips and tricks to packing for a locum tenens assignment.

Main Essentials to Bring

You’ve likely packed a suitcase at least once in your life, so you probably already know the main essentials you’ll need for your trip. But if you don’t, here are the basics. 


Travel-size Toiletries

When it comes to traveling, sometimes less can be more. Instead of lugging full-sized hygiene products around, consider opting for sample-sizes! Many of your favorite products are already sold in TSA-approved travel sizes. They will take up less space in your suitcase, and it won’t be as much of a loss if you accidentally miplace them or leave them behind. Also, if you plan on flying to your destination, keep in mind that liquid, gel and aerosol products must comply with the 3-1-1 rule.

Climate-Conscious, Neutral Clothing

Climate is a big factor to consider when packing clothing for your locum tenens assignment. The sweater that keeps you comfortably warm on a winter day in Georgia will probably leave you shivering on the same winter day in Michigan, so be sure to research the weather forecast for the days you’ll be in town and pack appropriately.

Additionally, try to opt for neutral colored pieces that can be worn with multiple outfits. This not only increases suitcase space, but also makes it easy to switch things up should you need to adjust your attire for weather or for any other reason. Colorful outfits are harder to improvise with.

Laptop or Tablet

Your device will be invaluable to you while on locum tenens assignments. Not only can it be used for entertainment purposes, but you can also access all of your files from anywhere at any time. We suggest backing up the following important documents/information to cloud storage a few days before your trip:

  • Photo ID/Passport
  • Boarding Pass, if flying
  • Auto insurance card, if driving
  • Vehicle rental confirmation, if applicable
  • Hotel/Lodging confirmation
  • Assignment confirmation
  • Credentialing documents (State medical license, DEA, other certifications)
  • Timesheet

Extra Items to Consider for Comfort

It can be exciting at first to explore a new city, taste new food, and connect with new people, but living out of even the nicest hotel can feel drab after a few weeks. Here are a few items you might consider bringing along to make you feel more at home:

Small Mementos

Little reminders of home can be very comforting when spending extended periods of time away from home in an unfamiliar place. Consider packing one of the following items to bring some coziness to your hotel room:

  • A digital photo frame to house hundreds of photos of friends, family, and pets
  • Your own pillowcase to add some familiarity to your sleep routine
  • The smell of home, which can be recreated with a flameless wax melt warmer, fragrance spray, or essential oil diffuser
  • A travel-size white noise machine to drown out the sound of voices in the hallway or the room next door

Neck Pillow

Plane rides can be uncomfortable, especially if there are many miles to cover. A good neck pillow can make your trip much more pleasant if you decide to sleep or relax your neck as you read your favorite content.

Your Favorite Snacks

If you love waking up to a little biscotti with your morning coffee, or if you can’t fall asleep without a mug of Sleepytime tea, throw a few biscuits or teabags into your carry-on. They won’t take up much space, and they’ll give you a little taste of home.

Packing Tips for Your Next Locum Tenens Assignment

Packing for any trip is challenging, especially if you're on an assignment. Keep the following in mind when packing for the best outcome:

  • Pick standout luggage: Pick a unique luggage color and design easily distinguishable at a baggage claim. If possible, add a ribbon or material to your already existing luggage.
  • Arrange electronics in a single line: Pack your electronics separately from the rest of the bags to avoid unnecessary inspection at security points.
  • Use every nook and cranny: Stuff small, soft items like socks and underwear inside your shoes.
  • Prevent spills: Pack liquid items like shampoo and lotion into resealable plastic bags to prevent leaks or spills from air pressure changes or rough baggage handling.
  • Recheck items after packing: Check all items in your bag to see if there are any questionable items before leaving the house and downsize accordingly.
  • Never check essential items: Your passport, identification, money, credit cards, jewelry, electronics, and other valuables should always be brought onto the plane with you in your carry on.

Safe Travels!

Traveling can be stressful, but following these tips can make your experience away from home smoother and more comfortable. Do you have any other tips to make packing for local tenens assignments smooth and easy? Drop your suggestions in the comments below and we will consider adding them.