Improve Your Commute

by Emily Roberts on April 21, 2013

phone-headphoneIf you’re like millions of Americans around the country, than for tens (perhaps even hundreds) of hours a week, you’re a prisoner. The prison you’re encased in is made up of metal, glass, and plastic. Whether you’re secluded in solitary confinement behind a wheel, or packed into a cell-like space with others facing a similar fate, the time spent waiting can be tedious. These prisons are mobile, taking you past the same scenery day in and day out, making even the most beautiful landscapes grow tiresome and dull through constant repetition.

While it’s possible you don’t view your daily commute to work in quite as bleak of terms, it’s almost certain that you don’t enjoy it. It might sound impossible, but by maximizing the resources available to you, there is a good chance that you’ll come to actually enjoy your time between home and the office. Your resources may be scarce, but they are valuable:

  • The Radio: While this resource used to be exclusive to commuters driving their own vehicles, the ubiquity of the radio feature on smartphones has opened up opportunities for mass transit commuters to take advantage of the radio waves as well.
  • MP3 Player: Not to be confused with the radio, although they often work in conjunction for commuters that drive their own vehicles, MP3 players give commuters the power of the playlist! Nothing beats off the commuter blues better than your own personal pick-me-up song — which can be played on repeat if necessary.
  • Cup Holder: It may elicit a chuckle or raise an eyebrow to refer to a cup holder as a “resource,” but the value of this feature in your car or mass transit seat should not be overlooked. A cup holder makes it possible and convenient to enjoy a warm cup of coffee or tea while in transit. Taking casual sips of a caffeinated beverage during your commute can do wonders to improve it.
  • Bluetooth: Referring to the line of hands-free phone earpieces, a bluetooth device is a must-have for any regular commuter. Especially useful if you drive your own vehicle to work, connecting your bluetooth before setting out gives you the ability to place and receive calls while on the road. What better way to pass the time than to call up a friend or family member (who may also be on the road) for a chat? Just be sure to keep track of those minutes!

Making the Most of Radio

It’s easy to see the value of radio for music, but that’s only scratching the surface of what you can do with your radio while en route. To truly get engaged with your commute, the value of talk radio cannot be overstated. Now contrary to the stereotype, talk radio isn’t all dry and bland news coverage (although those certainly exist). Like television stations, different radio stations cater to different interests and tastes with their programming. Unlike television though, where prime time is in the evening, talk radio packs the morning with its most interesting and engaging shows (not just a happy coincidence).

To really get the most from talk radio, find a station (or two) that caters to your interests, and then listen to a sampling of shows. Once you find a show that you enjoy, make a point to listen regularly. Getting to know a radio show, its hosts, and the running jokes and segments often takes a week or two. Once you’ve become a “regular” the entertainment really begins, as you can take advantage of calling in to share your opinion or ask a question on a story that interests you.

Making the Most of MP3 Players

Like the radio, most people think of music when they think of what an MP3 player can bring to their commute. While music on demand is certainly one feature, there is another that is even more effective at not just getting you through your commute, but excited for it as well. Probably one of the most underutilized features of MP3 players are their ability to play audiobooks. If you aren’t familiar with audio books, they are simply a book read aloud and recorded into a file that can be played on an MP3 player.

An audio book brings the enjoyment of a good book, without the need to keep your eyes on the pages. Not only are audiobooks a great way to “read” while on the go, they can often offer an additional layer to the story that a print book cannot. As audio books become more and more popular, it is becoming increasingly common for publishers to get celebrities and even ensemble casts to read the book. Characters voiced by different readers, and the addition of sound effects and music, in moderation, all enhance the experience. Audio books are even great for people who have never traditionally been “readers;” there are audio books covering all topics and themes, and it’s only a matter of looking to find one for you.

All in all audiobooks are a great way to deal with a daily commute, and can even give a level of anticipation to your travel. Just like reading a good book, if you’re forced to stop at an exciting point in the story, you’ll look forward to the next chance to listen. Be careful though, you don’t want to be late, miss your bus, or find yourself sitting in the driveway because you got caught up in the story!

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