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Tom Pallini: Student Voyager

By Anand Venigalla

Features Editor

Most college students in their senior year find themselves unsure of the next step to take after graduation, and how to go about doing it. Thomas Pallini, a senior political science major and vice president of the Student Activities Board, has a good idea of what he wants. He hopes to have a career in communications, “particularly either in the field of politics or travel since I’m well-versed and have an interest in both,” he said.

Tom Pallini

His strategy is to build his connections, improve his writing and spread the word about himself to major players in the political scene and the travel industry.

He already writes about travel. “I write for an aviation publication [] that allows me to get better acquainted with the travel industry and learn more about the inner workings of that industry,” Pallini said.

Pallini’s career goals will give him a sense of fun, as a work-life balance is essential to him. “I believe in a healthy work-life balance. There’s no point in working hard if there’s no reward in your social life,” he said. “Working in the travel industry would allow me to travel a lot, which I love doing, but working in politics would allow me to work on important issues, so it’s deciding whether fun is more important than fulfilling work,” he explained. “If I can do both, I’ll gladly do so.” He would love to live in New York City or Washington D.C.

Pallini has always had a passion for travel from a young age. “I’ve loved [travel] ever since the first flight I remember taking on a Song Airlines Boeing 757-200 aircraft from LaGuardia to Orlando when I was a kid on a vacation to Disney World,” he said.

Travel at its best is about the discovery in both the journey and the destination, Pallini said. “My favorite part of traveling is seeing something, whether it be a building or monument, for the first time in person after seeing it in photos and movies for years,” he said.

While many people enjoy travel, Pallini believes his appreciation for the transportation aspect of traveling separates him from the rest. “To most, the destination is paramount. For me, the journey is just as equal as the destination,” he said. “I’ve been on trips where it’s taken me almost a full day from origin to destination and I enjoy every second.” Pallini is primarily an ‘aviation enthusiast,” but he also enjoys traveling by train, bus, car or any other thing that moves.

Pallini recently took the train to a conference in Buffalo with SAB. A 10-hour journey, Pallini found in that trip a reminder of his love for train travel. He enjoys the particulars of planning a trip. “The simple things are important to me, like booking a flight, the anticipation of an upcoming trip [or] a new passport stamp.”

He also likes spontaneity in his travel. “I was on a flight to Seattle for a day trip one Sunday and I was asked if I wanted to go to the Middle East that Saturday; I said yes and was on a plane less than a week later to a part of the world I never thought I’d visit.” AirlineGeeks. com was invited to cover the International
Air Transport Association Ground Handling Conference in Doha, Qatar. Pallini was chosen as one of the two members of the staff to go on Monday.

“The flight left that Saturday morning at 10 a.m., so I had five days to prepare for a trip to the Middle East,” he said. He had just returned from three separate trips in four days in Denver, Wash. and Seattle on a mix of school and work assignments.

“Before that trip to Qatar, I never thought I’d visit the Middle East or take a flight longer than nine hours (my longest at the time had been Frankfurt-New York). After that trip, I had accomplished both as the return flight was 14 hours,” he said. “Incidentally, later that day when I found out I was going to Qatar, while
I was in my earth science lab, I found out I was selected for the trip to Israel, but that trip wasn’t until the end of June and was separate from work.”

Pallini has advice for anyone who wants to get the most enjoyment out of traveling. “It’s not hard to travel; it just requires research, some sacrifices and a leap of faith. If you want to travel more, you’re going to have to accept you will be outside of your comfort zone since not everybody speaks your language and eats the same food as you. But most parts of the world are accepting and won’t fault you for that. It’s also not expensive,” he said. He recommends seeking out potential deals on platforms such as SecretFlying, Dan’s Deals and Kayak.

Writing for has been a route for Pallini to explore his passion for travel writing. Starting out as a copy editor in August 2017, Pallini later transitioned to writing his first article in September about his trip from New York to Boston, thanks to an incredible price. “After that, I guess the higher-ups saw I could write and asked me to write articles on high-level events in the industry such as Air Berlin ceasing operations, and the last Boeing 747 flight for United.”

Unsure of what to do when at you arrive at your destination? Pallini has one simple piece of advice: walk. “Walking around and occasionally getting lost will allow you to discover the hidden gems of a city better than anything. Taking the subway/metro is great for long distances, but if you can walk it, I recommend you do.”

Plus, early to bed and early to rise makes a traveler’s experience appreciative, attentive, and leisurely. It’s a hard rule to follow considering jet lag, “but getting up early allows you to see everything you want to see and not have to rush.”

As for combining his passions for politics and travel, Pallini finds that his journeys bring him new surprises and connections. “Almost everywhere I go, I either get asked about Trump or hear people talking about Trump. I’ve found that most people abroad often just assume you’re anti-Trump and feel comfortable with saying bad things about him.”

Travel gives Pallini a perspective of a global world into which American influence has penetrated. “When coming home from Qatar, we had to go through security twice because of new rules from the Department of
Homeland Security, even though we weren’t in the U.S., but thankfully it was after the laptop ban, which Qatar was affected by, because I had to do a term paper on the plane for CRJ44.”

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