Locums practitioners that travel long distances to their assignments must become proficient at packing their bags so they don’t forget anything. This article provides advice on packing your bags and what items to bring so that you can become an expert traveler before your next locums assignment.
By FlexMedStaff with contributions from Corinne Sundar Rao
Most everyone has arrived at their destination to realize they had forgotten to pack something. For some of us, failing to pack something is all too common. No one becomes a perfect packer without experience. Practitioners that travel to their locums’ destinations become better packers after each locums’ assignment. Over time, practitioners become more organized and develop habits to make themselves better packers to ensure they have everything they need on the road.
In some sense, locums practitioners are no different from others in the workforce that travel for business. Like business travelers, locums practitioners must bring clothing attire for work, social, work-outs, and sleep. Travelers also must bring personal items (i.e., laptop), toiletries, and shoes. Professional business travelers always seem to impress. They pack lightly, bringing precisely what they need without forgetting a thing. We, too, as locums practitioners, should aim to be as proficient as those traveling for business.
This article highlights the items you might not want to forget the next time you are packing for a locums assignment. We focus on how to pack if practitioners do not plan to leave behind or store items at the hospital, hotel, or apartment.
Traveling by Car. If you travel by personal vehicle or rental car, “pack the house.” You have more leniency to pack more oversized items when traveling by car. These are the items that you would not usually bring if you had to fly to your destination. For example, you might bring your own pillows and blankets if you don’t have to fly and can travel by car.
Traveling by Airplane. The first thing to consider when flying is if you want to check a bag or not. It is not advised that you check a bag, but necessary for many locums practitioners. A checked bag will allow you to bring more items. Just make sure it is under 50lbs. A newer, lightweight suitcase can save you 3-4 pounds. Or you can say screw it and pay the fine for a bag over 50 pounds (Approx $100). For those who plan to check a bag, it would be wise to bring a carry-on bag with 1-2 days of clothes and toiletries. The reason is that if your bag is lost, the majority of lost bags are returned in 2-3 days. Many locums practitioners become expert packers in that they can pack everything into their carry-on bag. If you can pack this light, then great. Remember that you can wash your clothes at the hotel or laundromat locally, so you don’t always need to bring clothes for the entire trip. Whether you check a bag or not, carry a small backpack or laptop bag with your computer, tablet, personal items, wallet, and snacks.
Length of Assignment. Obviously, the longer your locums assignment, the more items you may want to pack. Although it is incredible to see some locums practitioners go more than two weeks without washing their clothes, most pack for only 7-10 days. You should have access to a washer/dryer at your hotel or a laundromat nearby for those longer stays.
Save Space in your Luggage. Pack efficiently and get as much out of your suitcase’s space as possible. Roll your clothes, don’t fold them. Pack your toiletries in a zip lock or flexible bag so that the bag can conform to the other items in the suitcase. Choose lightweight yet comfortable clothing for the environment you are traveling to. For example, lightweight sweatpants don’t take up as much space in your luggage as traditional sweatpants and are just as comfy. Bring versatile clothes that you can wear with other items to mix them up. Secure your shoes stuffed with socks to the outside of your carry-on bag to save space. Consider bringing versatile shoes that can be worn at your locum’s facility, social events, and working out.
Don’t be a last-minute packer. Unless you are incredibly organized, last-minute packers are always more likely to forget things. Consider packing the night before you leave so it is less stressful and on your mind.
If you are Type A, you may consider creating a checklist of items to pack, so you don’t forget anything. If you don’t make a checklist, create a routine of packing the same things or the same number of items. For example, pack the same number of pants, shirts, and underwear every time to fill the suitcase, no matter the length of the trip.
A sensible solution to avoid forgetting items is to keep your locums travel items separate from your other home items. One option is to repack your luggage after arriving home and doing laundry. That way, your luggage is packed for your next assignment with clean clothes. You could consider dedicated garments and items for your locums travel. Purchase separate clothes and shoes for your locums travels. It avoids confusion about what you need to pack for your next locums assignment.
Each practitioner will pack differently depending on their specialty, responsibilities, and location of services (i.e., clinic, surgery, hospital, etc.). Hopefully, this article gets you on the path to becoming a professional traveler and expert packer.
***Corinne Sundar Rao is a locums hospitalist that has experience working directly with hospitals and thru locums agencies. She is a physician advocate for betting the locums industry. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on her website at www.legacyphysicians.co