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Top Tips for Commuting to Work

Updated on March 28, 2015

Urrgh, the long commute

After twenty nine years in my one horse country town I decided to make the move from my hometown to the big city known as Melbourne.
It had always been a goal of mine to move to the city, but I would keep making up new excuses that were apparently holding me back.
The main excuse was always my job in my home town, which after nine years, I just felt that I didn't want to leave.

So I came up with a solution, move to Melbourne, but to a suburb which was only the main rail line so that I could take the train each day instead of wasting time and petrol with the arduous drive. Now even being within a kilometer of the train station at either end of the journey, I was still faced with at least two hours of each day spent on the train commuting to work.

Now this started out rough. All the luxuries that I used to take for granted become very evident that they were gone. Things like:

  • The ten minute drive it used to take me to get home meant there was little time to be bored.
  • Having a car meant having a car charger for my phone which meant I would always be contactable.
  • Keeping some spare clothes in my car, or even being able to drive home at lunch in case I spilled something on my work attire.
  • Not having to carry my life with me in a backpack each day.
  • And of course, seeing a bit of daylight each day.

But as time went on, I found little ways to make the commute to and from work each day more bearable. So please find below my current commuting arsenal that makes my commuting pains seem like a thing of the past:

Commuting Tools and Gadgets

USB Modem / Tether-able mobile phone

These days you just gotta be online. Make sure you utilize that extra personal time by getting stuff done. I like to take all my bills that I have to may with me. That long commute to work is also a great time for catching up on emails, facebook etc – all the stuff that I find life just gets in the way with.

Fold up adult Scooter
Now even though I live within walking distance of the station, this can still be quite a trek to be doing twice a day, especially if you’re in a hurry. Unlike a skateboard (which I also attempted), riding a scooter can be picked up very quickly by anyone, and when they’re folded up, they can attach quite conveniently to your backpack. For the first few weeks I tried biking to work. I started my commute with a push bike, but I quickly found biking to work was not all that universal to take with you everywhere. Sometimes certain trains flat out refuse to let you take your bike with you. If you're in the city you may need to also be using trams, which again can be a no no for bikes. Also, once finished work, I often find myself heading out for dinner or to a bar and it is extremely helpful to be able to just walk on in with a scooter on my back. Scooters are very cheap these days, you don't need to spend any more than $100 or so to get a very sturdy adult foldable scooter.

Good Backpack
I spent far too long using my man bag (mag) as my method of carrying everything to work. While this worked well when I was driving, all the additional items that you would not normally need to carry on your person start to add up. I found myself having to choose between bringing lunch or a spare shirt with me because a small bag SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK for commuting. A decent sized backpack, not one that the backpackers wear, but a decent size, makes life far far easier. Also I found that you can use a backpack as a fairly decent pillow if the need arises. I was able to pick one up at a discount surf shop for around $30 which fits all my needs. It even has a bunch of additional straps which can be used for affixing various items, such as a scooter, travel pillow etc (see below).

Rollup Travel Pillow

Not one of those inflatable ones. You don't want to be looking silly, blowing up and deflating that thing every journey. You can get some really comfy, really cheap travel pillows that are soft as heck and they roll up into a neat little bag, similar to a mini sleeping bag.

Portable phone charger
I first spotted these in Tokyo, they’re amazing. For less than $20, you can grab one off the internet. They are about the size of a credit card and just sit at the bottom of your bag and you forget about them. But when you get desperate and really need to make that call, you have your own personal phone charger. The battery in them is great, it can pretty much charge your smart phone from dead to full battery. Then when you get home you just chuck it on the charger and it’s good to go in a few hours for the next emergency.

Aviator Sunglasses

For blocking out the light when you want some zzz’s

Headphones WITH CASE
Make sure you have a way to store these or carry multiple pairs. Due to the wear and tear your backpack will take and you’re anything like me, you will go through these faster than a meth addict goes through car stereos

Sleeping Apps for your Phone

I absolutely swear by using one of these apps. You can find them free on the android/apple store. Some of them come with some amazing features for helping you not only track your sleeping patterns, but also ways to enhance your sleep. Some of the features include:

  • Using the phone's motion sensors to detect exactly when you fall asleep
  • Graphs of your night to night progress
  • And my favorite feature- Binaural beats; Which is a particular low hertz frequency which help with REM sleep. I fire up some binaural beats on the train using headphones and I'm out like a light in less than sixty seconds - Perfect for when you're using your commute as a way to sneak in some extra power sleep.

Some other useful items I also recommend:

  • Lightweight paperback book (for when all batteries are dead). When you're commuting, you are bound to be often in the situation where you just can't get to a power plug. Bringing along a book for entertainment is always a great backup to your electronic goods.
  • Compact Laptop (previously a tablet which I have now scrapped and vow never to use again but more on that later). I'm using an ativ book 9 and it's awesome.

© 2014 Kane


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