Tips for the New Traveling Consultant Dietitian

By Sara Glanz, MS, RD, LD, CNSC, Travel Dietitian

Congratulations on landing your first travel assignment with Dietitians On Demand! Before all the fun starts, there are some tasks that need to be done so that you are ready for the road and whatever comes your way. Here’s your checklist so that nothing is overlooked.

Where to stay?

Travel assignments are typically several weeks to months in length. With that said, you want to find a place to stay that will have all (or most!) of the comforts of home. Look for something with a small kitchen or kitchenette (at minimum, you should have a refrigerator, sink, microwave, and/or cooktop). Eating out every day will get expensive, so stay somewhere that you can prepare easy meals for yourself.

Think about where you will do your laundry and park your car. And consider the commute — try to stay close to your facility, if possible. In my experience, if you are comfortable where you are staying, it’s much easier to be away from home for months at a time.

I personally recommend Marriott extended stay hotels and privately owned bed and breakfasts. Airbnb and HomeAway can also meet your needs, but ask about any potential penalties if your assignment ends early and you need to vacate the property before the end of your lease. Don’t hesitate to ask your recruiter for recommendations from the client on where to stay.

How to get there?

Dietitians On Demand has guidelines regarding driving versus flying to assignments, depending on the distance. If you drive your own car, I listen to audiobooks to help pass the time. (Are we there yet?!)

If you fly, you will likely rent a car. Ask about monthly rental rates, if your assignment is at least one month in length. If you are a member of an airline frequent flyer program, you can earn points with certain rental car companies — look into which car companies match which airlines. You will generally make all of these reservations yourself.

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When to arrive?

This depends on your preferences! Dietitians On Demand will provide a per diem for the day before your official start date and the day after your end date to allow for traveling. If you prefer to arrive earlier or stay later, you can certainly do so.

What (and how) to pack?

If you fly to your assignment, your packing will be a bit more restricted. I use the same packing list for every assignment, so I don’t overpack or forget anything. Feel free to use this list as a guide — everything can fit into two carry-on size suitcases and a backpack. Driving to your assignment allows you to bring more, but that doesn’t mean you should bring everything you own! Some general tips:

  • You will need more work clothes than casual clothes. Make sure every top will match every bottom. Limit shoes—they are bulky and heavy.
  • Buy full-size toiletries and plan to throw away an empty bottle at the end of your assignment!
  • Get used to re-wearing clothes and mixing and matching. Two weeks’ worth of outfits is plenty.

Who to bring?

If you have a pet, you can travel with them, if you like. They can be great companions! Of course, you will be responsible for their transport, additional costs, and care while you are on assignment.

I have a dog and brought him on a travel assignment just once. He’s a bit nervous, and I ended up taking him back home before the assignment ended. My parents are wonderful and graciously care for him while I am away from home.

What about state licensure?

Ask your recruiter about the licensure requirements for each state. If the state to which you are traveling requires dietitians to hold a license, you will need to apply for one.

The most important thing to do on a travel assignment is to have fun! Working as a traveling dietitian offers the best blend of being a tourist and a local. Make the most of your days off to explore surrounding areas.

Ask locals for their suggestions on where to go. In my experience, you will meet the friendliest people who will welcome you with open arms. Enjoy!

To learn more about being a travel dietitian, click here.

More travel stories:

How Janet preps for a travel assignment

A peek at Kelsey’s life as a travel dietitian

 

Sara Glanz, MS, RD, LD, CNSC, Malnutrition Awareness

Sara Glanz, MS, RD, LD, CNSC is a travel dietitian for Dietitians On Demand. She is passionate about empowering dietitians to be more involved with the interdisciplinary healthcare team. Her favorite adventures while on assignment include: The 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, CA; Lake Placid, NY; Montreal, Canada; and of course, the Jelly Belly® Jelly Bean and Ben & Jerry’s® ice cream factories located in Fairfield, CA and Burlington, VT, respectively.

Dietitians On Demand offers both local and travel consultant dietitian positions. Our dietitians cover a vacancy, maternity leave, vacations, FMLA or increases in census. Check out our job openings, or request your coverage today!