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How to Stay Fit as a Travel Nurse

Mohamed Basha
RN CMC Founder and CEO of TLC Nursing Association
Updated November 22, 2023

Even small changes in routine can wreak havoc on healthy habits such as sleep, good nutrition, and exercise. For travel nurses, travel LPNs, and travel CNAs, this can add up to negative effects on both mental and physical health. But a career in travel nursing doesn’t mean that you can’t maintain a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. Read on for some great tips on how to stay happy and healthy.

Join a gym

Joining a gym as a travel nurse can be tricky. After all, the whole point of travel nursing is to travel, meaning you won’t be in any one place for more than a few months. But some gyms do offer flexible or short-term memberships. Also keep in mind that many gyms are chains, meaning you can use your membership at any branch location.

Gym alternatives 

If you don’t like the gym or just prefer to exercise on your own, there are plenty of options. Here are some of the most popular.

YouTube videos

YouTube is a treasure trove of guided workout videos, many of which are free!

Simply search for the type of exercise you’re interested in and filter results by date, view count, or relevance, then take your pick.

Fitness Apps

The options are virtually limitless when it comes to finding apps to help you keep fit. Whether you enjoy running, playing sports, yoga, or rock climbing, chances are, there’s an app to help keep you on target.

Home fitness equipment

Treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical machines, and free weights are just a few of the options available if you’re interested in setting up a home gym. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Get creative!

Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Resistance bands are an inexpensive alternative to traditional dumbbell weights.
  • Options like yoga and Pilates can be done with either a guided video or from memory if you’ve taken classes in the past.
  • Check out sites like Craigslist, OfferUp, or Amazon for pre-owned equipment.

Head outdoors

Love the outdoors? Make the world your gym! Walking, running, and biking are some of the most popular outdoor activities, but depending on where you are assigned as a travel nurse, you’ll likely have other options as well.

Local state or national parks are wonderful places to explore while traveling. Not sure where to go first? Ask the locals or use this helpful site.

In winter, try cross-country or downhill skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating. In the spring and summer months, hiking will get you outside and give you a chance to explore the surrounding area. And in summer, options abound. Try swimming, kayaking, or even scuba diving if you’re assignment takes you to a coastal region.

Pack for fitness

No matter where your next assignment takes you, it’s wise to bring along some basic fitness gear. Here are some simple and easily packed items to add to your list.

  • running or athletic shoes
  • workout clothing
  • yoga mat
  • swimsuit
  • jump-rope
  • resistance bands
  • handgrips for doing pull-ups and other strengthening exercises
  • headphones
  • smartwatch or smartphone for tracking steps and movement

Eat well

Good health isn’t only about exercise. It’s important to feed your body healthy food as well. When you’re traveling, as a nurse or otherwise, good nutrition can sometimes go by the wayside. But it doesn’t need to! Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy diet.

  • Pack healthy snacks. Whether you’re headed to work or out to explore the area where you are assigned, it’s a great idea to have healthy snacks readily available.
  • Don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day! It helps regulate your blood sugar and make sure you have enough energy to work hard doing what you love.
  • Look for healthy restaurants. Before heading to your next assignment, scope out some healthy local places to eat. They might just become your new favorite hangout!

Calm the mind

Now more than ever, it’s important to maintain a healthy body and mind. Travel nursing requires a special type of person – one who is caring, hardworking, and adventurous. All of these are wonderful traits, but burnout is all too common, especially for those who are truly committed to their travel nursing careers. Here are some healthy things you can do for your mind and spirit.


Meditation is an ancient practice that involves focusing the mind (usually on the breath or a calming visual scene) to bring oneself into a tranquil state. Most often, it is done either seated or lying down, but for those who have trouble sitting still, walking meditations are another option.

Breathing exercises

Often called box or square breathing, this helpful technique calms the body and mind. Here’s how to do it:

  • Breathe in for a count of four.
  • Hold for a count of four.
  • Breathe out for a count of four.
  • Hold for a count of four.
  • Repeat as many times as you like.