For most of us living in metropolitan areas, a long commute to work has become a standard. Whether you get to your job by car, train, bus or bike, you have to add in a significant amount of extra time to ensure you get to your desk. A 2013 report issued by the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that the average U.S. worker spends 25.5 minutes in the car for their one-way travel to work. That being said, for those of us living in densely populated cities, we know that our commute times can almost double the national average.
A quick breakdown of a daily work day shows that a 45 min. one-way commute for the average metropolitan commuter, still takes up a chunk of our time.
So how can we leverage the 6% of our day into time that is less mindless and more positive? Here are some of our tips.
Bri: My favorite ways to relieve the stress of the Bay Area commute are tasty beverages, lengthy podcasts and audiobooks. In the morning, I like to brew a latte to take with me in a big travel mug. I recently purchased a Copco traveler (Copco.com – $5.99) that is microwave and dishwasher safe. On my way home, I fill up my Nalgene water bottle (Nalgene.com – $12.99) and, if needed, download another podcast.
Kris: I recently moved to the suburbs and as a result, my current commute is a beast (and one that doubles the national average). In short, I spend a lot of time in the car. My ride typically starts with the radio news, so I can catch traffic conditions and some of the news highlights. I’m on the go from start to finish at my job and rarely have time to catch up on world news, so I like to be sure to catch up on what is going on worldwide. Next, I move onto a podcast (perfect for about an hour commute) on something juicy like celebrity entertainment. I find switching gears away from my work brain, helps relax me as I transition into my evening.
I also am an avid audiobook listener. It’s a great alternative for bookworms with long commutes, and catching up on a chapter or two on your drive home always gives you something to look forward to. Lastly, I also use my drive home as a convenient time for me to catch up on phone calls to family and friends. Because I drive on off-commute hours, the timing doesn’t always work, but it gives me a nice chunk of time to stay connected.
Mere: Los Angeles freeways are notoriously known for heavy traffic. I have been tackling the LA driving scene for over 10 years, yet somehow I often find myself surprised to see so many cars on one road. My commute is about 40 minutes from home to work, and then back again at the end of the day, which in perspective isn’t too bad (especially for LA). I try to leave on the early side of the morning to avoid excessive LA-traffic, and although sometimes I find myself lucky (pulling into work 5 minutes earlier than usual), there are other times when I question how traffic can be at a halt before the sun is even up!
Most mornings, I enjoy listening to the radio. Call me “old fashioned” by I enjoy morning radio talk shows and music during my morning commute. I have also found that podcasts can be one of the best ways to fill time in the car. I was recently obsessed with Serial by This American Life. To those also completely consumed with Serial, it will come as no surprise that I actually looked forward to getting into my car each morning. I also enjoy The Dinner Party Download, America’s Test Kitchen, Bon Appetite, and Ted Talks. I found that the nearly hour-long program holds my attention and keeps my interest for much of my time in the car.
Regardless of what means of transportation you take to work, chances are it involves some transit time. Do you have a good tip to pass time on your commute? If so, we’d love to hear.