Practical considerations for first time traveller


Hey Travellers! I have been a contributing member for a few years to AN and an avid follower of the Travel forum for about the same. I have scoured the board for answers to my question(s) and have found a few, but hoping for some fresh ideas. Hope I don't rehash something obvious that has been covered a million times…

I am starting to plan for a first travel assignment by taking local agency work, just to get the hang of being thrown into new situations day by day (thanks for the advice, Ned!)

I'll probably continue to do this for the next 6 months at least, then start applying for out of state licenses and positions.

Here's my question: My dream is to spend summer at home (I rent a house in the Baltimore/DC area) and travel to warmer areas during the most miserable parts of the year. Needless to say, it gets COLD! I'm worried about the maintenance on my house (sidewalks shoveled, pipes freezing, gutters ripped down by ice) and also about my plants. I LOVE my plants. I have a hatchback, so the amount of stuff” I can reasonably take will be very limited.

Do many of you hire someone to come in once a week/EO week to water plants, clean, and most importantly, how do you keep your pipes from freezing while not spending $$$ on the water/electricity bill and wasting resources?

I stress about leaving water dripping for a 14hr shift, let alone trusting someone to come back and shut it off when the temp rises above 30.

Related, at what temp do you set your thermostat when you are away? I would think 40F would be sufficient, but again with the stupid pipes…

Last one: If you do hire a caretaker” (I have no family in the area, and my friends are extremely busy with kids, work, etc.) how do you know whom you can trust? Angie's List is there, but, if someone knows I won't be around for 14 weeks….

I really don't feel comfortable with subletting, mostly because I value my privacy, but also because it would be a juggling act to say, I'll be gone from X to Y, but… wait, I decided to extend till Q, so you can stay till R, but now have to be out by…” My house is my house. I just want to show up on a random Tuesday, my underpants undisturbed, and crawl into clean sheets, surrounded by my jade bonsai…

Not to mention my lease prohibits it.

Any and all advice/tips appreciated greatly. I will surely be asking many more questions in the months to come!


1 Article; 5,766 Posts

My usual suggestion is to get a housemate you are comfortable with when you are there and one you can trust when you are away. That is not a sublet, and the person can be added to the lease if required. Great deal for both of you, half rent for you, and a bargain priced private house for the housemate when you are away. This arrangement also maintains your tax home as long as a room (usually your bedroom) is reserved for your exclusive use.

It is nice to come back to an empty clean house with just a few minutes of chores to turn everything back on. But if you fall in love with travel, is it really worth renting a house by yourself all year for less than two months occupancy?

About plants, surely your friends wouldn't find them much of a burden if you park them in their houses?

Pipes only freeze above the main water connection (perhaps in your basement). Usually there is a drain plug so you can turn off that main water connection, and empty all your pipes. Same with water heater. You can hire a plumber to winterize your house and they will do that and put antifreeze solution in your toilets. I did use a plumber one year (I think it was like $50) but it is so simple I did it myself next time. Instead of antifreeze in the toilet, I bailed it out and stuffed plastic bags so sewer line odors wouldn't fill the house (which is the primary purpose of the water trap in toilets and sinks). Worked fine. My one time experience with the antifreeze is that it mostly or entirely evaporated by the time I got back leaving a mess on the porcelain. Some toilets also have special surfaces to stop stuff (you know what) from sticking. I'd be wary of putting solutions in such toilets of any kind. Perhaps not a problem on a rental, they are not going to pay extra for such toilets.

If you hire a caretaker, you are going to have to do your own due diligence, perhaps a background check or checking references and current employer. If you belong to a church (or really any organization), a fellow member is very likely trustworthy and reliable. After all, they are members of a community and wish to remain respected. There are probably professionals, start by asking a property manager (perhaps you rent through one now). They will likely cost more (no idea of a fair price) and no more trustworthy than someone you vetted yourself, but should be bonded (check it with the bonding company they say they are with) to cover any costs they incur through negligence or outright malice.

Gutters should not be downed by ice, they should be self draining. Where would the ice come from? Not much you can do about it anyway, if they are not functioning and full of water, even if you are there when they fall, what can you do?

On a different topic, if you have sufficient experience to travel, you don't need 6 months of per diem. I only recommend that as a reality check. I think I may have done only three shifts at three different hospitals before I started traveling (I can only remember two). Do 6 months of per diem for the same reason as travel: because the lifestyle appeals to you (you decide if you want to work, and where you want to work).

8-ball, BSN

286 Posts

Specializes in ICU, and IR. Has 13 years experience.

I have my neighbor take care of the place and mow the lawn the cost is based on how many times he mows. More during the summer less in winter, last month was $70. He keeps air on at 78 during summer (found that 80 makes it too musty) and heat at about 60. Never had issues with freezing pipes in basement but its well insulated and most of the pipes are near the upper level floor so there is residual heat from above. You could just throw a space heater down there if you wanted. Only issue I have had so far is I have a mouse in my basement again so there is that. I took my plants with me (2 orchids). I also have an alarm system on the house and it alerts my phone when it goes off and when my neighbor goes in and out, so I know if he is actually checking or just saying he is.


171 Posts

Thank you guys so much for taking the time to respond. I'm still contemplating the kinks of this situation, and my lease renews in the spring. I have a pretty good FT gig going right now, and agency work has been been throwing me some interesting (and unconventional) assignments, but I'm definitely thinking and planning for the nomad life. You all are an invaluable source of great and sometimes tough to hear advice - keep it up, I'm gonna need it!


1 Article; 2,077 Posts

Specializes in Hospital medicine; NP precepting; staff education. Has 22 years experience.

I had to open this thread because my eyes caught on "time traveler." It amused me. Carry on.