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Across the horizon

Posted on 02 January 2015 by Jimmy Yan (Meds 2015)

So here we are, final year of medical school. Winding up (or to those lucky ones, already finished) electives, CaRMS applications submitted, and now just waiting for those interview offers to roll in. And according to Love Inc, because we’re all super stars, we should expect a bunch of interviews. This all means a lot of traveling, and because Canada is really big, that means a lot of flying.

Flying can be exhilarating, liberating, and luxurious all at once.

Okay maybe not this luxurious. At least in Canada

But it can also be highly rushed, stressful, and exhausting.

Okay so probably not this stressful either

Add in jam packed days full of interviews and the schedule gets even more harried. However, a few small adjustments here and there can help make this peripatetic existence as smooth as possible.

Below are some of those life hacks tips.

  1. Check-in ahead of time – It’s a basic tip, but needs to be said. Check-in starts at 24 hours before the flight, and you should do it. Why? Well it not only saves you time getting through the airport but gives you better options to choose seating.
  2. Go carry on – With both Air Canada and West Jet sneaking in the baggage fees this year it’s probably best to leave the big suitcase at home and start focusing on portability. Sure, $25 doesn’t seem too much, but as the interview tour continues that can start adding up. Plus there’s always the added time you have to arrive to the airport ahead of time, additional line to check the baggage in, and the extra time to wait around for the conveyor belt at the end. You do want to be able to hit up the socials after all. Not to mention there’s always that small but nightmarish risk of your suitcase not making the flight with you. Going with the carry-on saves time, money, and creates fewer items to keep track of, which can help ease some of the stress as we navigate through airports, shuttles, cabs, buses, and other unfamiliar areas.
  3. Efficient packing – Yes, again a pretty common sense tip (I’m not a certified professional life coach so I, unfortunately, can’t call them LifeProTips) but because we’re traveling for interviews, we have to bring formal suits/pantsuits, coats, shoes, which create necessary bulk to our luggage. Of course, knowing this, there are still a few things that we can do that channels our inner George Clooney.
    • Pick versatile items: neutral colours, multipurpose accessories, a lot of black items (jeans, t-shirts, blazers), a good set of multifunction shoes and your formal shoes, and underwear that can be hand washed and quick dried overnight (Tilly’s, Ex-Officio, Uniqlo, MEC all have these options). The internet has tons of lists to offer packing suggestions, even apps to help you minimize. Make use of them.
    • Wear the bulk: don’t pack your bulky boots, puffy parka, or dense denims (yeah that last one was a stretch). Wear the heaviest items, and make the most of the space for the lighter gear.

      You could also wear ALL your lighter stuff and pack your bulkier gear

    • Roll, don’t fold. Not only does this reduce the wrinkles in your clothes, but also has been scientifically proven (I think) to reduce the amount of space you need for your clothes.
  4. Tame the security line up: The lines in the airport are Christopher Wallace Notorious, and the worst of them is the line to security. A few things can help speed up this process.
    • Find a friend with status, they can get you through the faster ‘Priority’ line as one of their guests. Since a lot of medical students list traveling as one of their big interests, it won’t be too hard to bump into someone. Maybe it’s you!
    • If you do get stuck in line, use that extra time like Batman and prep! Empty your pockets for loose items/wallets/keys into your carry-on, get the belt and watch off, and have the boarding pass ready in hand. You’re only fighting yourself if you wait all the way to the front of the line and then have to empty and unbuckle then.
    • Nail the order of putting things onto the security conveyor belt. Personally, I find this one the most useful: belt & shoes, coat/jacket & personal bag, laptop, and carry-on luggage. I like it because when the items come back out of the scanner, it’s staggered in the right order. I can throw on my shoes and belt, then grab or put on my jacket, I have my laptop bag ready for my laptop when it emerges, and then finally grab the rest of my items and get going.
  5. Bring along a small pack of moist facial wipes

    Because moisture is the essence of beauty…or something.

    Okay to start off, hate the word “moist”, but in this context, it’s acceptable. Desposable moist (shudders) towelettes or make up wipes are great for a quick cleanse after a lengthy flight. After a long day of interviews, cabs, to running through an airport and then cramped in a pressurized cabin of recycled air, these wipes are an amazingly effective way of quickly getting rid of that grimy sensation and feel refreshed.

  6. Keep things fresh – The interview period is a long time on the road, upwards of 3 weeks. That’s a lot of time for things to be cramped into your luggage. Fend off the ripeness by packing some Ziploc bags to hide away dirty garments, splurging on the odd laundry service day, and packing a couple dryer sheets into your luggage will help keep things smelling like spring.

    If you don’t have dryer sheets, a sprig of sage will work in a pinch.

  7. Pack a small power bar in your kit (provided you have the space for it) and never worry about having your devices lose charge during your expedition. You’ll also become a legend among your fellow passengers at the gate and it’s a great way to break the ice to make new friends.
  8. If you are wary of becoming lost in an unfamiliar city and have a limited data plan on your phone, you can look up the area ahead of time on Google Maps and then save it for offline use by saying or typing “OK Maps” (“okay” doesn’t seem to work) in the search bar once you’ve pulled up a region you like. This will cache in a full version of the map (allowing you to zoom in for greater detail) and your phone’s compass would be working all the time even without data for a GPS connection.
  9. If some of the flights happen later in the night or you’re hoping to get some rest while on your flight, download a white noise app to help sleep and drown out noisy neighbours.

What are your favorite travel tips? Feel free to add them in the comments below.

-Special thanks to Tammy Wong, a consultant for Deloitte, for the help in accumulating, curating, and paring down these tips. For more on reflections of the life as a traveling consultant, check out her blog here: http://tyw2010lifestyle.wordpress.com/ 

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