*This post has been sponsored by Amtrak and Her Campus Media. As usual though, all thoughts, opinions, and sass are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Coming Up Roses!
If I had to consider myself an expert in one thing, that one thing would be commuting. Don’t even call it weird, because some people are experts in things like building sandcastles or telling shark’s teeth apart, and at least commuting knowledge is helpful knowledge for most of the working year. (Excuse the beachy references – I’m currently typing from a little rental house down the shore with my RA staff. Hardknock life, I know.)
Since being in college alone, I’ve had to drive 40 minutes everyday to one internship, train 15 minutes and then walk 20 minutes to another, travel via big league public transportation for special events and conferences, and a few days ago we got to rowboat in the Delaware River. Whatever works, I guess. (Kidding, wasn’t a commute, was just random fun). But I’d say my regular commutes have gotten me fairly familiar with the do’s and don’ts and best practices of optimizing your daily travels. So in the hopes of saving you a whole lotta trouble figuring it all out on your own, I’ve rounded up my must-have items, general tips and reminders to ensure your commute is as good as can be. And to top it all off, it’s divided up by *type* of commute, so if you’re a walker, driver, or trainer, I’ve gotcha covered.
1. Find the quickest, safest route. Know your route ahead of time, and make sure you’re going down streets that you’re comfortable with at whatever time of day your commute requires.
2. Maximize the number of Starbucks in your path. Because nothing better accompanies a commute better than a non-fat light ice iced Caramel Macchiato.
3. Shoes matter. I mean, this is just a simple fact of life, because when do shoes not matter amiright??? But when you’ve got a walking commute ahead of you, even if it’s just a walk around the block, shoes *really* matter. This is one time when comfort precedes style (did I just say that?). Your feet, legs and back will thank you for carrying those pumps and donning a pair of quality flats (or even sneakers!) for your trek. Not only will this protect your body from aches and pains and blisters, but you’ll ALSO protect your heels from walking – and speed walking and occasionally running when you’re perpetually late – across cobblestone streets (is that just Philadelphia?), uneven pavement, cracks in concrete, and construction sites.
4. Remember sunglasses. If you’re walking around outside and it’s summertime and the sun is shining, bring glasses to protect your peepers from bright UV rays. Some sunscreen might be necessary, too, so just embrace it.
5. Always pack a mini umbrella for unexpected (& expected) downpours. Rain happens, even when the weather forecast forgets to mention it. You’ve already had a shower, so don’t risk taking another one – just bring the umbrella, because it’d be a cold, wet, uncomfortable way to start or end your day.
6. Load your tote bag with the essentials. Like the aforementioned heels and umbrella and sunglasses – and Starbucks if you’ve got a cup holder in there, too. Anything and everything you need to power through your day and be the bosslady you are.
7. Bring TWO bags. For the sake of your back, nix the crazy bag lady notions now. Having two bags, especially if you’re carrying around your laptop or other particularly heavy or awkward objects, means you can balance weight on your shoulders and avoid pain later. Trust me from personal experience here folks – developing pain from a too-heavy bag is the biggest pain to deal with (pun intended), because it’s not like you can go from carrying something to just not! Since you’ll likely always need your commuting and worktime essentials in tow, make sure you just take action and carry with care.
8. Something to dodge tourists. No? Is this just me? Am I the only one that had to dodge HOARDS of tourists whilst walking past Independence Hall in Philly everyday? Oh, okay.
9. Set a driving playlist. Whether that involves playing along with radio morning shows, jamming out to Enrique (my cuppa tea), or listening to a great audio book or podcast, you need some background noise that makes you feel inspired and ready to start your day *like a boss*.
10. Know your route ahead of time…and that doesn’t mean just blindly follow the GPS. Look over your Google Maps or Waze or – wait for it – written instructions before hitting the road to make sure you’ve got a good feel on where you’re headed. That way, if any unexpected obstacles arise (read: an accident, heavy traffic, construction), you have a clue on possible re-routes to keep you on time for the rest of your day.
11. Avoid roads with lots of stoplights or stop signs. They slow you down, and ain’t nobody got time to be slowed down.
12. Bring a sippy water tumbler along for the ride. It’s a great way to start your day hydrated and fresh! Just make sure you don’t drink too much, because having to pee mid-trip is not the quintessential way to go.
13. Keep an umbrella in the car. You still have to walk across the parking lot, and no one wants to have to call the boss and say you need to sit in the car until the rain stops. I was that person. Don’t be that person.
14. If you’re a danger driving in heels, pack flats. It makes you less likely to fumble around the pedals, plus it keeps your heels fresh, unscuffed and unbroken. #goals
15. Plug your phone charger into the cigarette lighter. Nix the cigs first and foremost
16. Gas tank – pay attention to it!!! Try not to travel on less than half a tank, especially if you have a longer commute. Just make this a habit and you won’t have to pray that you can make it home driving on vapors.
For a train/public transit:
17. Invest in a great ride. I already mentioned here some benefits of riding Amtrak, their fabulous reach of destinations, and their beyond fabulous Student Card. But I’m going to say it again, because some things are worth saying twice. Amtrak has over 500 destinations in 46 states and Canada, connecting lives across the North American continent. High School and college students save 10% automatically when booking with the Student Advantage card, meaning your commute just got a whole lot cheaper.
18. Ensure leg room is a thing. Do you guys like to make yourselves at home and get comfy while in cars and trains? I always end up in weird positions, so having leg room to accommodate my weirdness is a nicety that I really appreciate. While the subway isn’t known for being comfy and cozy, cushioned reclining seats on Amtrak fit the bill.
19. Pack a blanket or cardigan. Sometimes, people get a bit too happy with the A/C. For that, make sure you’ve got something handy to eliminate goosebumps and keep you comfortable.
20. Bring headphones. Because there is this thing called the quiet ride, where you aren’t allowed to speak. Meaning it’s a SILENT ride fo’ you. #yas
21. Know where the quiet ride is – and use it. After a long day at work, peace and quiet is amazing. Before work, it’s a nice way to mentally brace yo’self and prepare for what you’ve gotta crank through with style.
22. Know where the dining car is – and USE IT! Uh, you can buy mini personal pizzas on an Amtrak ride. Enough said.
General tips and tricks:
23. Stay aware of your surroundings, always. Don’t get lost in technology and lose track of who and what is going on around you. If someone or something makes you feel uneasy, trust that instinct ALWAYS and do what is necessary to remove yourself from the situation. Ask for help when needed, and SAFETY FIRST, people!!
24. Keep a small amount of cash on hand in case you end up needing to pay for a bus or taxi.
25. PACK SNACKS! I’m a huge snack gal, so I like to have a snack in my bag regardless of the scenario. Can’t risk getting hangry, you know? But when there might be a traffic jam, power failure – literally anything to cause a delay – a little carbs and protein can go a long way.
26. Always have listening and reading materials on hand, whether it’s stuff to educate or enlighten you or just make you happy, because it does a fine job at making a commute feel less like a burden and more like a blessing!
And VOILA! Your next commute is going to be awesome, I swear. And if it’s not…well, wine is waiting for you when you’re home (and not driving!).
What do you do to make your commute an awesome one?
Let me know in a comment below, because I’d love to hear from y-o-u. Also now accepting recommendations for beyond awesome podcasts and audio books for the road, so lay it on me, because I’m sure you guys have some of the best ideas out there. Now go have yourselves a very merry Monday.