From the moment you exit your house for work to the moment you enter it again, you are adorned the unshakable label “commuter.”
In a perfect world we would all be first in line to get on the train every morning, with a fresh cup of coffee in hand, and absolute silence during the journey. The harsh reality is that this rarely ever happens. At least not without some careful planning and hacks for your commute…
Plan ahead – way ahead
Planning ahead is the best thing you can do for yourself. That means taking an extra few minutes before you go to bed to save yourself the next morning. Take the time to make yourself some food for lunch, lay out your clothes for the next day, and double check the transit schedule. Try to be the first one on the train platform. Mornings can be rough. These are just some of the little things that you can do to get a jump start.
Something I like to do is plan to get to work an hour early. If I have at least half an hour to myself before I have to interact with anyone else, I’m good. There’s nothing worse than the stress of feeling like you’re running behind. I like to prepare everything and anything possible the night before, so when I’m in zombie mode the next morning, I can easily get up and leave the house knowing I have it all covered.
Give yourself those eight hours of sleep, then get up and conquer the day. If you’re like me, and despise the sound of your early morning wake up call, you’ll want to give yourself some leeway knowing you have the essentials ready to go.
Triple check EVERYTHING
For all the last-minute travellers out there, this tip is for you. Before you step out of your house, make sure you have everything. I’m talking bus fare, train fare, lunch bag, coat, phone charger, and, most importantly, headphones. There’s no bigger let down than getting on your 7 a.m. train and realizing you forgot the one thing that will block out the early morning chatty Kathys. Once you step onto your bus or get on the highway in your car, there is no turning back.
The best way to avoid potential disasters like this is to make sure you triple check everything. This means that before you go to bed, or at least when you wake up, make a list of the things you know you’ll need throughout the day, and make sure they’re in your bag and ready to go.
It’s cool being comfortable
My parents always told me, “it’s better to be comfortable than to be fashionable.” I never thought that I would be echoing these words of advice, but here I am, doing exactly that.
A stigma that I have always believed is that it is impossible to find flattering work shoes that aren’t heels.
I recently went shopping for a pair of comfortable flats, and to my surprise, I found that they are in fact in style. I never thought that I would wear flats to a professional job, but the blisters on my feet have swayed me otherwise. I am now wearing Velcro shoes with dresses and Nikes with slacks and it’s all OK because literally everyone else is doing it too.
Shoes are an investment worth making. You might look in your wallet and think differently, but I promise you that one pair of comfortable shoes will save you a lot of money when you aren’t consistently buying cheap ones that wear down your feet. In the end, it’s cooler to stride comfortably on your half hour walk to work than to limp back because you can hardly walk in your shoes.
Hope for the best… but prepare for the worst
For some, the commute can be long and tedious, without time to make pit stops along the way and not risk the possibility of being late. Making sure you have extra things stored in your car, bag, or even at work will have you thanking yourself.
For those transit commuters, make sure your Presto card is loaded. On the same note, if you drive, make sure you allow a little room in your bank account for emergency gas fill-ups. It is always important to bring things to keep your stress levels down.
Whether it’s having a little bit of spare change for coffee, downloading your favourite playlist, or bringing a good book, if you can counteract the stresses a morning commute could bring you before they even happen, you’ll be one step ahead.
Keep headphones in your ears and your mind open. Nothing will ever go the way we plan, so we might as well come to terms with the fact that if there are obstacles to be met, they very possibly will be met by you.
If you miss your train, another will come. If someone takes your seat, stand. If you get cut off, take a deep breath. If your coffee order is wrong, ask for another. Stay patient because the moment you don’t, your day will spiral out of control.
Save when you can
Commuting can be costly. Whether you are driving your car every morning or taking transit, the costs add up. If it is possible, ride your bike. If you can’t do that, there are some things you can do to nickel and dime your way through it.
If you’re using a Presto card, the first thing you need to do is check the tap function. You must make sure you are tapping when you get on the GO train and when you get off unless you have a pre-authorized trip set up on your card.
This means that if there are two GO stations you frequently travel to and from, you can save that trip so you no longer need to tap off because your card will already know where you plan to exit. If you do not have this set up and you forget to tap off, you will be charged a fee.
Another thing that could save serious gas and bus money is to either carpool or get a ride. If you know someone who works in the same area as you, ride in with them together. Or if you’re like me and you have to take public transit and the train to work, get a ride to or from the GO station. That’ll save you $4, which is better than nothing.
My last word of advice when it comes to saving some cash is to prep your lunch. Not only will it save you time in the morning, but it will keep you from eating junk food and overspending.