A Commuter’s Guide to Survival

For some, the only obstacle to getting to work on time is whether or not there’s a little bit traffic. That used to be me. Most recently, I traded my 10-minute drive for an almost hour and a half commute. Don’t get me wrong — I weighed the pros and cons before embracing this change in my career. I haven’t been in this new position for very long, but I can already tell that my time spent on the train each morning and night is totally worth it.

Between driving to the station, riding the train, and walking to the office, I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a hike. And vice versa: Instead of hopping in my car and being home in 10 minutes, I walk to the station, ride the train, and then finally drive home. But thanks to a few tips from some fellow commuters, and from what I’ve already picked up on myself, I’ve come to realize that the (usually) peaceful train ride is something to appreciate. I’m not sitting in bumper to bumper traffic; in fact, most of the time, I don’t even geographically know where I am. That’s the beauty of riding the train, subway, or any other form of public transportation. You just get to sit!

That being said, there are a few things every commuter must know. Better yet, there are a few things every commuter must have. If you’re a commuter, comment below and tell us what must-have’s you bring to work in your bag, briefcase, or backpack everyday. We all know that whatever you want to bring you must carry – it’s all about packing smart!

  • Extra cash. Whether you forget your ticket one day, take a different line on the subway, want to grab after work drinks with co-workers, or whatever it may be, it’s always good to carry a little extra cash with you.
  • Jenna suggests this “Legacy Signature Mini Skinny” card holder from Coach.

    Card holder. Fit that extra cash and your train ticket together in a convenient little holder that fits in your pocket. Digging through your ticket every subway switch can become rather annoying, so you’ll be happy to have it close by in one of these cute accessories.

  • Smartphone or tablet. This may seem like an obvious one. But what isn’t so obvious is downloading some great songs and/or apps ahead of time. Even if your train has Wifi like the MBTA does in Boston, you won’t want to drain your entire battery in a single sitting finding new apps.
  • Extra phone charger. That being said, you’ll be better off buying an extra charger to either keep in your bag or leave at the office. Playing on your phone all morning without a charger to make it last the rest of the day isn’t an ideal situation (I figured this one out the hard way).
  • Headphones. Crying baby? Repetitive, automated messages? Someone obnoxiously talking on the phone? Enough said.
  • Hand Sanitizer. Especially if you’re on a crowded subway and are forced to stand while holding onto a railing or pole. It’s unlikely that you can run to the bathroom right away and wash your hands (even if you wish you could), so carry some sanitizer with you just in case.
  • Tide-To-Go. Coffee spill, anyone?
  • Airborne, Cold-Eeze, or Emergen-C. You might as well make every attempt that you can to avoid getting sick. Different flavors, same idea. I’ve tried all three – see which one you like the best and keep some in your bag.
  • Gloves. It’s getting cold out there! You may even want to throw a hat or earmuffs in your bag if your coat doesn’t have a hood.
  • Rain boot liners. I’ve told you before how genius and handy these things are. You can bet that they’re the newest addition to my bag!
  • Band-aids. New shoes? Keep some band-aids handy to avoid getting blisters as best as you can. I’ve also tried Dr. Scholl’s bunion cushions – they fit perfectly on your heels!
  • A book. Or some may argue, a Nook or a Kindle. I haven’t migrated to the world of digital books just yet, but with a lot of time to kill in the future, I see one possibly finding its way onto my Christmas list.
  • Travel-size hairbrush. If you have to walk after exiting the train, the wind can really cause some damage to your hair. Sneaking one of these in your bag makes it easy to give your hair a quick run through before heading into the office.

Last but not least, don’t forget to save the phone numbers of a few different colleagues. There’s no telling when a train or bus could be delayed, and you never know who you will or will not be able to get a hold of in the morning. Making more than one attempt to notify your anticipated tardiness won’t go unnoticed, I promise!

Commuters, unite! What’s in your bag? Share below or @20sTweet!

~E

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