Final Checklist: Complete These Tasks Before Your Start Date!

Are you ready to drive, fly, or swim out to your first assignment? Here is a final checklist of items you need to double-check in your contract, car, and personal life before you do so!

There is a lot that needs to happen before your first day on the job, so let’s start with everything contract related!

Final Checklist: Contract Related Items

Compliance Documents Complete

You will be barraged with a bunch of tax forms, competency exams, skills checklists, and more.

Take a moment to ensure you have completed all of these items by going through the list that your compliance person sent you via email. They tend to do a great job of organizing all of these documents in a list or table and sending them to you.

If there’s anything you haven’t completed yet, do that now!

Drug Screening

Go get that drug screening well in advance of your start date! If you like to stay well hydrated like some of us, then it is a good possibility you will come back dilute and have to repeat the test.

My recommendation for drug screenings, if you are able, is to take them first thing in the morning before you’ve had a chance to drink too much water.


There are plenty of vaccines and immunizations you need as healthcare staff that your agency is going to ask about.

This includes things like:

  • Tetanus
  • Varicella
  • Hepatitis B
  • Influenza

And the new kid on the block: COVID-19.

Lot’s of facilities are requiring you to be boostered at this point, however, there are jobs available that do not require vaccination in the lab if that’s your prerogative.

I recommend keeping up-to-date copies of these in a digital travel folder.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Go back and read my post on building a spectacular travel folder HERE!

First Day Instructions

Aside from all of the paperwork, online exams, and endless questionnaires… Do you know where you’re going Monday morning?

Go dig that contract out of your email inbox. Open it up. Find that first-day instructions letter. (If you didn’t get one contact your recruiter ASAP to get those instructions!)

Take a moment to do these four things:

  1. Confirm your start date on your contract! Make sure it is what you discussed with your recruiter. Check and double check.
  2. Know what time you need to show up for your first day. This should be listed on your first day instructions letter. There is a good chance it will be different from your usual start time so know when to show up!
  3. If a point person of contact has been listed in your letter put them in your cellphone. Know who to call if you’re having trouble finding where to go.
  4. Finally, ask about entry if you are working off hours. Do you need a keyfab? Will security be able to let you in? Know how you’ll get into the facility your first day ESPECIALLY if you’re working nights or very early hours.


Your agency should have offered you a few options for insurance after the mess of compliance you slogged through. Give some thought to how you would like to handle this.

At a bare minimum for health insurance get the high deductible health plan and throw some extra cash towards an HSA account (which can later be invested in the stock market).

Double-check that you’ve finished signing up for what you want during your contract term.

Another thing to check is if you get insurance on the first day of your assignment. More and more agencies are moving in this direction, but it is good to check if there is a waiting period.

Retirement Accounts

Make sure you know where to sign up for that 401k plan! Now that you’re making a boatload of cash maybe tax shelter some of it, eh?

It might be a good idea to set a calendar reminder on your phone as many agencies will require that you work one full week before you sign up for the company’s 401k plan.


During your orientation and compliance process you should have been given the option to enroll in direct deposit.

I highly, highly recommend you do this as soon as possible in case there are any hiccups!

Final Checklist: Car Related Items

If you’ll be traveling by car to your assignment location… Have you thought about your car and how it will handle the journey? Here are four things you should do before you pull out of the driveway and start that journey, whether its 60 miles or 1000 miles.

First, make sure you car has had a recent oil change. If you’re getting close to being due for one just get it now. You want to make sure your car is in tip top shape for the drive!

Second, check your tire pressure. Not only does your miles per gallon go down when you have low pressure or uneven tire pressure, but you could even cause damage to your car!

Oh, and don’t forget to check your spare tire. Everyone forgets about that little guy, and he could save your life if you get a nail in the middle of a long stretch of highway.

Third, pull out that dusty little booklet that you have in your glove compartment. How many miles is your car at? Is there any routine maintenance you should be doing where you’re at? Maybe you should be replacing, or at least checking, your belts. Just take a quick look at the book and under the hood to ensure your car can handle what you’re about to put it through.

Last, do a packing dry run! The Engineer talks about the importance of this in the article Engineering Your Packing: How to Pack Smart as a Traveler!. Check out the post as it is a great mental exercise to run through if you aren’t sure what you need to pack!

If you’d like a FREE copy of our very own Histotrek Packing List sign up for our newsletter and get a link to save, print or download a copy today!

Final Checklist: Personal Items

Tax Home

Let’s talk about your tax home.

Not sure what I mean? Go take a look at my post on everything that you’re going to see on a travel tech’s paycheck!

In order to receive the tax free stipends allotted to you there are a few criteria you have to meet. First, you need to be duplicating your living expenses. This means you either need to have a mortgage or be paying rent continuously while you’re on assignment. I recommend doing this year round as you don’t want the IRS questioning you.

Some individuals decide to skirt this and pocket all of the tax free stipends, but once the IRS finds out you will be on the hook for income tax on all of the stipend money you received. Don’t mess with the IRS. They aren’t fun to tick off.

Second, there is a rule of thumb that you need to be over 50 miles from your home address, or an unreasonable distance away from the assignment location that you would not be able to commute to and from your tax home daily.


Have any big items from your old apartment that need to be put in storage?

Need to ask your parents if you can throw a few totes in their garage?

Get that sorted! It is like a whirlwind the weeks leading up to your start date, so the more you accomplish now the better off you will be.

Health Appointments

Make sure you’re up to date on your physical, dental cleanings, and eye exams before you leave.

Trying to make appointments in an unfamiliar state can be a hassle. Better to take care of these things before you leave!

Important Documents are Packed

We touched on this when we covered how to build a travel folder of all of your important documents, and what to include. Go back and read over these items if it has been awhile.

Either keep physical or digital copies of those important documents. For documents that have to be paper I recommend storing them in a safe. There are plenty of fireproof safes that you can purchase on Amazon.

“The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get.”

Jim Rohn

Hopefully, this final checklist has given you a few ideas of things you need to button up before you head out for your first travel assignment!

New to Travel Work?

Visit our entire travel work series here.

What else would you add to your final checklist? Let me know in the comments below!

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