I have been traveling a lot this year – more than I ever have before and more than I will probably ever do so in the future.

Some of the trips have been for work (medical school interviews!), and a lot fewer have been for play (see here), but it’s been a great learning and growing experience throughout.

In any case, here are some things I wish somebody had told me before I started adventuring!

1 – There are good seats on the subway, and there are bad seats. Good seats are the ones where you don’t have to sit next to a lot of people and where you have something to lean on. Bad seats are squished between masses of humanity or so purchase-less that you have to grab someone next to you to make sure you don’t go sliding off the bench. Get a good seat.

2 – Similarly, check in as early as possible on flights (you can usually do it online now) so you can get a good seat. I prefer the aisle seat, because you can go use the lavatory without having to climb over anyone. But the window seat is okay too.

3 – Grab a drink before you board! Even though it’s expensive to buy them in the terminal, I think it’s worth it – drink service takes a while to start and get to you. And trust me, being dehydrated on a sardine-packed plane is one of the most unpleasant experiences I can think of.

4 – Get on the plane as soon as possible. Nowadays, as airlines charge for checked baggage, people have begun to shove more and more junk into their already bloated carry-ons, meaning that overhead storage space runs out on almost every flight. You don’t want to be the guy who has to gate-check their laptop bag because you thought it wasn’t cool to line up early. You have to hustle!

5 – As a corollary to the previous tip, pack light. In my opinion, having just a personal item and not having to wrestle larger baggage in and out of the overhead bins is very much worth it. If you’re traveling domestically or to a developed country, count on the fact that you can buy pretty much whatever you might need there, even clothes!  Translation: there’s no real need to schlep most of your junk across the world.

Lastly, as an overall travel and life tip, don’t be afraid to explore. I have traveled with people who are unwilling to try local cuisine or otherwise push themselves out of their comfort zones – how sad that is! One of my most random and now-favorite memories in my recent travels was taking the hours between the end of my interview day and my flight and essentially walking down the length of Manhattan – eating, taking pictures, and just observing life in the city. I got a taste of New York City that could not be obtained any other way, and had a blast while doing it.

Got any additional tips or stories? Please leave them in the comments section below!

Bon voyage!

2 thoughts on “Princeton Ly – Travel Tips

  1. This is so true.. especially the life tip about EXPLORING! To ease into trying new things I’ve used Yelp, FourSquare and Lonely Planet books on my trips. These tools help me navigate what can feel like the unknown in a foreign city.

    Thanks for your tips Princeton! And good luck in medical school 🙂

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