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Please critique my tentative plan for traveling to an out-of-state interview?


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The majority of my friends in med school went to in-state schools, so I wanted to try asking on here before digging through my friends list for my out-of-state friends. Can I please get critiques/advice?

 

I was VERY fortunate enough to be invited for an interview in July in Pennsylvania and I'm trying to map out my travel plans. The interview is July 26th, so I'm planning on booking a package deal (plane+hotel+car) on Expedia for the occasion. I intend to fly out from Texas on the 25th, pick up a rental car once I land, and stay at a hotel near the school. The next day, I plan to check out, drive to the interview, and then go straight to the airport to fly back.

 

Does this plan sound reasonable? Am I accounting for everything? Are there cheaper options? ALSO, (silly question, but) I've never rented a car online, and I'm wondering if the car will be somewhere at/near the airport for me to pick up? They'll probably give me details once I finalize my payment, but I wanted to ask all of you interview veterans first.

 

Thanks!

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Your plan makes sense to me. Coming in the night before gives you a chance to find your way to campus the night before and also get some sleep.

 

Many but not all rental cars are at the airport and the others likely will have a shuttle bus. You can check out the particulars at their website.

 

Good luck!

 

 

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Just give yourself plenty of time as you plan for everything. Make sure your flight is booked late enough so that you aren't rushing out of your interview to make it back to the airport and always account for any traffic you might be unaware of. When you are traveling there can be so many moving parts and lots of chances for things to go wrong so if you plan plenty of time for each step, you won't get frazzled in case something does get mixed up. I'd rather sit in the airport for an extra hour than worry about being late.

 

Also, be aware if you are under 25 most rental car companies will charge you a underage fee that travel booking websites don't always take into account. If it isn't on your receipt from Expedia or whoever, just prepare that you might have to pay an extra fee when you get to the rental car counter (could be 15-30 bucks a day). If you are over 25, lucky you hah!

 

You can even have the front desk at your hotel do a wake up call on the day of your interview just in case something goes wrong with your phone alarm. I missed a flight one time because of this and learned my lesson.

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Your plan looks pretty reasonable. All of my interviews were out of state (on the other side of the country) and I would fly in at least the day before the interview and fly out at least the day after so I could see around the town a little in addition to not having to worry about flight/interview times conflicting.

With regards to renting a car, I always booked through a 3rd party in order to avoid the under 25 fee, and I would just input whatever airport I was flying into/out of and that's always where I got the car from, either at the airport or a shuttle would take me from the airport to the rental car location.

 

 

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In addition to the above, I'd caution you that the under 25 fee as well as deposit needs to be on a credit card, not cash. Most credit card companies include rental car insurance so contact your credit card issuer to verify. That can save you money by being able to decline insurance when you pick up the car but you'd still be protected in the event of a crash.

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Some other thoughts.  

 

Does the program where you are interviewing offer any recommendations for lodging?  Sometimes they'll have negotiated rates, though they aren't always cheaper than you can get online for yourself; however, they may include transportation to/from the school for your interview (a number of mine did).  That can be a stress reliever versus driving yourself in an unfamiliar location, finding parking, then navigating the campus, etc.  

 

Look into alternate transportation options to/from the airport as well.  Some hotels have airport shuttles at no charge.  It requires more allowances for time for transportation on their schedule, but again, can be easier than dealing with a rental car and navigating for yourself.  Rental car rates advertised often don't include the additional taxes and fees that can double the daily charges of what appears to be a low rate.  For straight airport-hotel-airport transportation, a cab or shared ride service is sometimes the cheaper less stressful option.  

 

Rental car locations are in the airport or off-airport (requiring a shuttle bus for transport).  This varies by airport and by rental car company.  Off airport locations often have cheaper rates b/c they aren't paying the airport for the privilege of being on-property.  

 

If you haven't traveled much, you'll find that driving in other parts of the country (and other countries) can be quite different than what you're accustomed to as far as signage, on-ramps / off-ramps, getting around in general.  If you're adventurous by nature, have fun!  If you would find it stressful, don't add that to your natural interview anxieties.

 

Good luck.  

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I'll stress what has already been said above. Be sure to leave plenty of time post interview to make it back to the airport pending any unforeseen delays. It's much better to sit at an airport for an extra few hours then to be in your interview looking at the clock worried about if you'll make your flight or not. You'll need to be as mentally engaged as you can during the interview process. Good luck!

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In addition to the above, I'd caution you that the under 25 fee as well as deposit needs to be on a credit card, not cash. Most credit card companies include rental car insurance so contact your credit card issuer to verify. That can save you money by being able to decline insurance when you pick up the car but you'd still be protected in the event of a crash.

 

I had no idea! Thank you so much for telling me. I'll definitely keep that in mind.

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Some other thoughts.  

 

Does the program where you are interviewing offer any recommendations for lodging?  Sometimes they'll have negotiated rates, though they aren't always cheaper than you can get online for yourself; however, they may include transportation to/from the school for your interview (a number of mine did).  That can be a stress reliever versus driving yourself in an unfamiliar location, finding parking, then navigating the campus, etc.  

 

Look into alternate transportation options to/from the airport as well.  Some hotels have airport shuttles at no charge.  It requires more allowances for time for transportation on their schedule, but again, can be easier than dealing with a rental car and navigating for yourself.  Rental car rates advertised often don't include the additional taxes and fees that can double the daily charges of what appears to be a low rate.  For straight airport-hotel-airport transportation, a cab or shared ride service is sometimes the cheaper less stressful option.  

 

Rental car locations are in the airport or off-airport (requiring a shuttle bus for transport).  This varies by airport and by rental car company.  Off airport locations often have cheaper rates b/c they aren't paying the airport for the privilege of being on-property.  

 

If you haven't traveled much, you'll find that driving in other parts of the country (and other countries) can be quite different than what you're accustomed to as far as signage, on-ramps / off-ramps, getting around in general.  If you're adventurous by nature, have fun!  If you would find it stressful, don't add that to your natural interview anxieties.

 

Good luck.  

 

Ironically, I've traveled through Latin America several times on my own and fared pretty well with regards to finding my way around, but I've never traveled out-of-state on my own and I have a gut-feeling that I'll feel more lost in Pennsylvania than when I went abroad. Lol. I guess my biggest concern with alternate transportation is that I have a very hard time trusting these methods of transportation to get me to where I need to be on-time. I'd actually feel less anxious having my own car and navigating on my own (of course, giving myself plenty of time before the interview and flight back home).

 

I'll also double-check with the school for recommended lodging and compare prices!

 

Thank you so much for all the helpful info!

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