How to Survive Long Trips

The only shitty part about living so far away from where I grew up is that the trip home is a real journey.It usually involves a subway ride (or two), a train ride and sometimes a few hours in the passenger seat of a car. Most times it rounds out at about 6 hours, sometimes more or less depending on how much time I spend waiting or being delayed. But I’ve become somewhat of a “professional traveler” based on the amount of times I’ve taken this trip.

So, I figured I would share my tips for surviving long (and boring) trips back home or to wherever you want to go.

Tip #1: Luggage

Carrying heavy bags through the subway and up and down stairs in any station while you’re traveling can be absolute misery. So do your best to pack light, especially when you’re only spending a few days somewhere and not attending any special events. I get it; once in a while we need to pack extra because we have a wedding or a party to attend. And that’s perfectly fine. I find that picking out an outfit for the event in advance (shoes, accessories and all) and trying it on helps ensure you’re not over packing.

I recommend a backpack or some sort of large tote bag as a “carry-on”. Something you can jam your smaller handbag in but still have room for things you’ll want for the trip. It’s much easier to have one bag while trying to maneuver through isles of a train car or bus. Also be sure to check the limits for your specific type of transportation. Some have weight limits or bag limits for luggage depending on what you choose.

Tip #2: Getting the best seat

Ok, this is probably the most important tip I’m gonna give you. If you’re anything like me and like to have your choice of seat and are also mad awkward about asking complete strangers if you can sit with them, then listen up. Get there earlier than you think you need to be.I’m serious. If your ticket or reservation says “passengers should arrive 20 minutes prior to departure for boarding”, cool, so get there 30 or 45 minutes in advance. Trust me, you’ll beat everyone there and most likely be the front of the line, if not the first person (I have been first before lol it’s great). This is also important because most buses and trains do not have assigned seats. It’s a first come first serve basis.

*Pro-tip: If you wanna cop a seat alone, get there early, grab a window seat and jam all your shit in the seat next to you. Then pop in some headphones and look longingly out the window. Most people will be way too considerate to interrupt you to ask if they can sit there. (Only time this doesn’t work is when there’s a full train/bus and every seat hasto be used.)

Tip #3: What to bring for the journey

When it comes to packing things for a long trip, here are some essentials. These also come in handy when there are delays (yes, they are inevitable sometimes) and you need to pass some time while you wait.

  1. A good book- I love packing a book, whether I’ve read it 3 times already, just started it yesterday, or its been sitting on my shelf for months. There is no better time to get into a book than on a long, quiet train ride with nothing else to do.
  2. My laptop- It’s always with me for numerous reasons. One being the fact that I write this blog and I never know when inspiration may strike or if I need to get a post up while traveling. I also love being able to watch Netflix or YouTube or browsing online when the onboard Wi-Fi works.
  3. Headphones- These are essential for me anytime I set foot outside my house, but especially on a long trip because I find that listening to music passes the time just as much as reading a book does. It’s also the perfect time to find new music or explore different playlists.
  4. Snacks- Buying food on a train is soooo expensive, so don’t waste your money on that. And obviously on a bus there is no café car so I prefer to bring my own snacks and usually water (lately sparkling, or a seltzer because I’m obsessed with them). Bring easy things like nuts, chips, or fruit that doesn’t make a mess. Don’t go whipping out your moms homemade lasagna. Trains rides are usually smooth but not thatsmooth.

Tip #4: How to deal with people

We know it’s going to happen once in a while; that noisy kid that won’t stop screaming in the seat behind you or that guy that’s talking mad loud on his phone the entire ride. The thing I’ve learned while doing all this traveling is that you can’t control other people. You can just be a good human and hope that others will follow your lead. I try my best to help anyone who hasn’t traveled much and is confused or lost, and I always act respectful of others personal space and the public spaces I’m sharing. If someone is doing something super annoying, don’t be afraid to talk to the staff on the train or bus because you paid for your ticket just like they did and you deserve to enjoy your trip as well. Or if you’re gutsy enough, stand up to the person yourself and express your opinion about their rude actions. It just may save you and the other passengers some headache.

 

I hope these tips will help make your next trek a little easier. Comment below if you have any other useful tips to share, I’d love to hear them! Follow this blog for future travel posts.

Thanks for reading!

How Not To Die On The NYC Subway

Ok, ok. I know the title of this sounds a little dramatic, but let me explain.

The New York City subway can be a dangerous place, or as we New Yorkers prefer to call it, “the train”. In 2017 there were 181 incidents involving people coming in contact with trains, 44 were deaths. But I’m not just talking about this kind of death involving the subway, despite it being important. I’m mainly talking about the everyday hustle and bustle of riding the MTA. Whether you live in New York or you’re just visiting the city, here are some of the ways you can make your subway experience super fun more tolerable.

Since we already touched on the serious stuff, let’s just wrap it up here. Watch the damn gap, ok? The last you want to happen is to get jammed in that little area between the train and the platform. Did I create a horrific image there for you? Well sorry, but it’s no joke. I know too many people who know someone who has gotten injured from not paying attention to that gap. Or people who have witnessed someone fall in there. So just be careful ok. And do what the warning labels say. They’re there for a reason. Watch the gap, Stand clear of the platform edge, Do not hold doors, all that good stuff.

One thing I learned very early on while taking the subway was that if a car is suspiciously empty during a busy time of the day, you most likely want to follow your instincts and avoid it. If you make the same mistake I did, you’ll end up in a car that combines all the worst smells on earth in one; dirt, body odor, rotten food, feces maybe? Homeless people sleep on the subway all the time so do yourself a favor and try not to get stuck in a car they’ve made their home. And if you do, jump off at the next stop and switch cars. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Speaking of the homeless, (yes it’s sad to see all the time) some of them are straight up douchebags. Watch out for those ones. No one should ever be forcing you to cough up change if you don’t want to. If you feel compelled to give something, then be my guest. But remember that there’s tons of people turning them down everyday. Ignore the beggars and panhandlers who try to make everyone on the train feel like shit for not helping them. You can’t save the world with your coin purse. The only people I ever truly feel like donating to are the performers or ones that try to at least give you something in return. And let me tell you, there are some true talents out there. Violin players, singers, dancers, magicians, you name it and I’ve probably seen it on the subway.

Headphones are your lifeline in New York, if I haven’t made that clear already. If you wanna avoid being talked to by strangers, or worse, then pop those babies in. I wear mine all the time, whether I’m listening to music or not. It keeps the crazies away, ’cause you know we got plenty of those. Mostly I just do it for my own safety not because I think those people are nuts and not worthy of being listened to. I just don’t know what some of them are capable of and I avoid confrontation anyway so I’m not exactly inclined to get into a fight with someone on the train.

*Just a quick note: If you wear headphones, don’t forget to stay aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the people around you. Plus, you might need to listen to the train conductors announcements once in a while so be wary of that too.

There are oftentimes announcements that run across the screen on the train giving you warnings from the NYC police department just reminding everyone to keep their belongings with them at all times and watch for suspicious activity. The thing most tourists worry about with riding the subway is getting their shit stolen. Despite how rare that is, it is a reality. Be smart, keep your stuff close to you, and always in your sight, especially when it comes to carrying groceries or other shopping acquisitions home with you. Open bags are an easy target for pick-pocketers too, just as a general note. Don’t go all “clutching your bag for dear life” on people because that’s another way to direct attention to yourself. Act natural, but be mindful.

Most things about the subway, we just cannot control. The delays, the skipped stops, the smells and more importantly, the temperature. The train cars are all air conditioned, nice right? Yeah, sure. But the stations are hot as hell. Like unbearably hot sometimes. In the summer its terrible because you’ve already walked to the station in the heat and then once you get underground it just kicks up another 5 degrees. In the colder months it the opposite. You walk round on the street level with your fall jacket or your winter parka. But once again, you get down into that station and its a goddamn sauna. You really can’t win here, I’m just gonna be honest with you. So mentally prepare yourself for profuse sweating and uncomfortable stickiness.

Comment below if you have a good public transport story and share this post to save a life!

Thanks for reading!