A lot of people commute, whether it be for work, for school, on a weekly or a daily basis. In fact, commuting almost goes hand-in-hand with a new job or course. For almost a month now, I have been commuting to university by train a few times a week. As you probably know already, it’s often not worth moving to a new place that’s geographically not that far away. And having to pack and unpack all of your home, getting accustomed to a new place and leaving friends and family behind is best avoided.
Nevertheless, if you’re travelling during peak times, it can be torture. So in light of my new gained experience as a “commuter”, I thought I’d share a few tips to make your journey more enjoyable, productive and less stressful.
Consider way and cost
There are many ways you can commute to work or school, the most common being by car and by public transport. There are pros and cons for whatever way you choose, but I do suggest you take a moment to really think about what is best for you. Could you cycle to work instead of getting the bus? If you are spending an hour driving, would getting the train be cheaper and faster? Question how you are getting around currently and see if you can find a more effective way.
For me, driving to university would take as long as getting the train – door to door. However, during the 4o-minute train journey, I can do work which I wouldn’t be able to do if I was driving. Many work places offer showers for their employees which is perfect for those who cycle or run to work. You can also swap your commute around – walking to the train station when the weather is nice instead of getting the bus or a taxi will definitely save you some cash and keep you fit!
Plan your commute
When it comes to commuting, preparation is key. You want to make sure that you have everything you need, that you haven’t left anything on at home or that you have enough change for the bus. Whatever it may be, you probably won’t be able to just pop back home on your lunch break. So to save yourself the anxiety of “my house might burn down because I’m sure that I switched off the stove but did I really remember to do it while rushing out to catch my train?”, prepare your bag, outfit, lunch and everything else you need the night before. That way you’ll be able to just grab everything and leave stress-free rather than running around your flat like a lunatic.
Also, I recently did a really interesting exercise in uni about time management. This will only take a couple of minutes but if you don’t want to do it, skip to the next paragraph! Otherwise, take a piece of paper and write down how many hours a week you spend on these different categories: sleep, getting ready, meals (including prep and clean up), commuting, errands, regular commitments (yoga, dance, dog walking, blog…), job, in class (if you are a student) and finally social time (seeing friends, going out, on your phone, etc). Once you have added all these up, substract it from 168 – this is the amount of hours in a week. If you are a student, the number you end up with is the time you have to do work. If you aren’t, it’s your “free” time. Mine came up to 155, so 13 hours for uni work. This is obviously too little so I’m working things around to have more time for uni. Use this to tweak things in your life, to better manage your time. If you spend a lot of time on meals or on errands, see if you can change the way you do things to save time. Please, do not take time off your sleep (don’t go under 7-8 hours) as this is actually one of the most important and healthiest ways you’ll spend your time.
As I mentioned before, I like to do work on the train. Obviously this is more relevant for people travelling by public transport – for those who aren’t, try listening to a podcast or an audiobook on a subject that’s relevant to you. If you decide to bring work with you, think about what work you can bring. A very large book or something that requires a lot of space or time to do might not be the best idea. Aim for something you can do on your laptop, tablet or phone. If you’ve got reading to do for uni, bring the papers and a highlighter. Light work will make your commute go by faster, more productive and help you get your tasks done.
Don’t forget your headphones
There is nothing worse than having left the house and realising that you forgot your headphones. Whether you listen to podcasts or music, most people travel with their headphones in. It makes time go by much quicker and helps you focus if you have work to do. So put them in your bag the night before to make sure you don’t leave them on your kitchen counter.
Look out the window
If you are tired or unmotivated, or just don’t feel like doing anything, look out the window! You’ll see lots of different things and it’ll be a nice break from your busy schedule.
Get a hot drink
There is nothing more comforting than a hot drink. Especially when it’s the morning and you’re still half asleep. Because commuting can be a pain, I like to treat myself to small luxuries here and there – getting a tea and something sweet is my guilty pleasure. However, if you are living on a budget or just don’t want to spend all your money on your daily caffeine take, bring your own! Just make it at home or at the office before leaving and you’re all set. Also, please bring a reusable cup. Coffee cups are not recycable, contrary to popular belief. And you get a discount whenever you bring your own cup!
Be polite and kind
As I’ve said a couple of times already, commuting can be shit. Some days are definitely worse then others and in most cases, it’s up to the people around you. If you have an encounter with a grumpy person, it’s sure to ruin your day. So I ask of you, for the good of everyone and yourself, please be polite. Let people off the train before you get on, kindly ask the person next to you if they can let you out and don’t be rude. If you are in a bad mood, that’s okay. It happens to the best of us. But it was scientifically proven that smiling makes us feel happier. So next time you’re feeling blue, smile at someone. They are very likely to smile back and it’ll make the day slightly better for both of you.
There is nothing worse than travelling home, starving, and realising that you don’t have food with you and none at home either. This is why it’s important to plan your meals. Bring snacks with you for the day. If you’ve got the time, do some meal prepping over the week-end so you’ve got something ready to eat or to chuck in the oven when you get home. And if you don’t have time to do that, plan meals that are quick and easy to make: salad, sandwich, soup, chicken and veg… There are many options. Also, don’t feel bad for those times you cave and get take-away or a frozen pizza. Just try not to make that a routine because it’s not the best for your health or your wallet!
So these were my tips to make your commute suck less. I hope that you find some of these helpful and if you do, please let me know by liking or commenting on my post. Also, head over to my Instagram to keep up to date with the blog! Let me know how you make your commute easier. I hope you enjoyed this week’s post. Thanks so much for reading and have a lovely week. I’ll see you next Sunday!