Commuting to and from work can be the worst part of your day. If you drive, there’s the traffic, parking and the monotony of the same scenery every day. If you take public transportation, you endure crowds and close quarters with far too many people during a global pandemic.
Every commuter’s circumstances are a bit different. If you want to get to and from work with fewer headaches, here are six ways to do it:
1. Step Out of the Vehicle
Who says your commuting choices are only public transportation or a private car? Barely 100 years ago, most people walked to work.
If you can drive to work in five minutes, you might be able to walk in 30. Comedian Steven Wright loved to say “Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.”
If you don’t have the time, what about cycling? An electric bike can get you there almost as fast as a car, and with a lot less sweat than a traditional bike.
Commuting by foot or bike doubles as your workout for the day. Plus, you won’t need to worry about traffic or parking. Keep a change of clothes at the office in case you get wet on the way.
2. Cancel the Commotion
If you don’t have a reliable car and can’t walk or bike, don’t despair. Public transportation can be made a lot more private with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
Noise and chaos is a rude start to your workday. Why not pop on your favorite podcast, listen to the news or jam to your favorite Taylor Swift song instead?
Not that you have to listen to anything: If you want to spend your commute with a book, the headphones’ noise-cancelling feature can give you a quiet reading space.
3. Ditch the Briefcase
Backpacks beat briefcases. Not only are they lighter than their more professional peer, but they make it possible to haul everything you need for the day.
Think about what, exactly, that is: Do you need a portable battery pack to keep your phone alive throughout the day? Would a rain jacket keep you from getting soaked as you wait for the train?
Especially if you take public transport, protect your backpack from pickpockets. Get one with anti-theft locks or wear your pack on your chest, where you can see it.
4. Customize Your Car
If you’re like most Americans, you get to work in a private car. Don’t take the risk of distracted driving.
Laws continue to get tougher about doing anything in your car that takes your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel. Rather than stress about a ticket or rear-ending another vehicle, go hands-free.
Mount your smartphone on the dash or use a Bluetooth headset to take calls. Morning and evening commutes are great times to catch up with mom and dad. You can also use voice texting or find your way to that new coffee shop drive-through.
If pre-work productivity is more your speed, use Google Voice to dictate to-do lists and memos. Or, bring Alexa along for the ride with the Echo Auto. Use your Bluetooth tech to connect via your smartphone and play sound through your car speakers
5. Crack a Book
“So many books, so little time,” American musician Frank Zappa quipped. If you enjoy books but have little time to actually read them, add them to your commute.
If someone else does the driving on your trips to and fro, load up an e-reader with your favorites. These devices are larger than your smartphone and therefore easier on your eyes. But they’re still small enough to tuck into your backpack, bag or briefcase with ease.
If you’re doing the driving, use your ears instead. Download the Audible app and listen using your vehicle’s speakers via your smartphone.
6. Sip Away the Stress
One way to make your commute better is sipping your favorite non-alcoholic beverage. Getting the ultimate enjoyment requires temperature control.
Sure, a good old-fashioned Thermos works. But pouring liquid out of the bottle and into a cup is awkward at best. Going a little higher on the tech totem pole is worth the price.
The market is truly flooded with engineered metal cups that can keep your smoothie cold and refreshing for hours. The same is true of reusable water bottles.
If you like your beverage hot, and if you’re willing to spend a pretty penny, you’re in luck. There are smart mugs that keep your coffee at the precise temperature you like ad infinitum. Some even come with smartphone apps that let your monitor or adjust it.
Your commute doesn’t have to be a drag. Try out new types of transportation and technology, and by the time you get where you’re going, you may not want it to end.