3 Tips for a Public Transportation Virgin

Growing up in Kansas has its perks. You have endless amounts of free country concerts and the best BBQ on Earth right at your fingertips, there is almost no traffic and the weather is mild more often than not. The great Sunflower State gave me everything I could have ever hoped for, except any sort of knowledge about public transportation.

For college, I decided to leave my small, sleepy suburban town for bright lights in the big city, i.e. Chicago. At first, I thought I knew it all, it seemed simple enough. There was a train to get you downtown and buses and cabs to get you everywhere else. I mean how hard could it be right? Answer: EXTREMELY HARD. There are a couple things that I wish someone would have told me before I decided to plunge head first into the world of public transportation, and now, I’m going to share those things with you:

  1. Expect the Unexpected

In a perfect world, the train would always be on time, it would never skip stops or stop running altogether, but sadly, this is reality and all of those things really do happen. ALL THE TIME. My advice to you is to invest in a really good train and bus tracking app and plan from it, but always build in 10-15 minutes in case something really crazy happens, because Lord knows it probably will.

  1. Be Open

It’s really important to remember that public transportation is built to serve entire cities, that’s millions of people, so it’s extremely likely that you’ll see some things you aren’t familiar with, ESPECIALLY if you’re from a small town like I am. You will see homeless people, and foreign people and hell, maybe even famous people. It’s super important to keep in mind that underneath it all, they are still PEOPLE. So be kind and open and as nonjudgmental as possible.

  1. Enjoy the Ride

Moving to or even visiting a big, urban city is an extremely unique experience. Be mindful of your surroundings, look out a window or two, talk to someone sitting next to you (but use good judgment PLEASE), the people and the scenery are all a part of the total experience, its actually really cool, I’ve lived in a city for months and it still hasn’t gotten old. So take a minute, look up from your map, book or phone and really soak it all in. The city is an amazing place to be, don’t let the experience pass you by.

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