5 Ways to Enjoy Your Commute (Or At Least Hate it Less)

Want to enjoy your commute? Or hate that hour less? There are lots of ways to make your commute less annoying and maybe even enjoyable! >> yesandyes.org

When I moved back to the Twin Cities, I went from a 15 minute commute (walking along the ocean) to a 30 minute commute (driving my 22-year-old car through heavy traffic).


So I sulked about it a lot and questioned my decision to work in St. Paul and whined to everyone I knew. Eventually my friends nearly went blind from rolling their eyes so hard and I found a few ways to actually not hate that time in the car so much.

5 ways to enjoy your commute (or at least hate it less)

Bring your car up to par

In my case this meant putting in new brake pads, replacing the broken tape player with a functioning cd player (Hello, 21st century!) and finally throwing away all the empty Reese’s Pieces bags.
Get your car detailed, add a new air freshener, make sure the heating and cooling work as well as possible and make sure your seat and steering wheel are in exaaaaactly the right position.

Stop listening to that horrible radio station

I really kind of hate drive time radio … or rather, I hate the only radio station available on my old broken-ass radio. Every morning I found myself listening to The Jonas Brothers and segments like “I used to be hot.” And then my brain melted and ran out of my ear.

You don’t have to listen to rubbish! Get a new stereo system. Subscribe to SiriusXM. Download a million podcasts. Listen to audio books. If you’re really ambitious (or a Virgo) you could even listen to language-learning tapes.

Consider the cutie in the car next to you

That’s right, hottie. I’m winking at you. If they aren’t flirt-worthy, I like to create a back story for them and wonder what drove them to choose that particular bumper sticker.

Choose an alternate route to work

I often find that I’d rather drive 25 mph through a tree-lined, residential neighborhood rife with stop signs than sit in stop-and-go traffic on the highway. I get to my destination in the same amount time, but I don’t feel homicidal when I get there! Use your gps and choose the option that uses surface streets rather than highways.

Experiment with different types of transit

Would you hate your commute less if you took the train and walked 10 blocks? What if you biked? What if you carpooled? You might try them and hate them but you won’t know unless you do! If nothing else, you might discover how much you like your car compared to the #6 bus!
Extra credit: engage in car dancing or car karaoke, do kegals, drink something yummy or pretend that you are being interviewed by someone fabulous. I spend large portions of my drive doing this: “Why yes, I have climbed Everest! Funny you should ask!”

How long is your commute? How do you get through it?

P.S. Everything you need to plan a roadtrip

photo credits: raybay // kevin lee // cc

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  1. MAry

    What a great idea for a post! My commute is 30-45 minutes depending on traffic. I make it bearable by (1) bringing coffee, (2) listening to the awesome independent music station or NPR so at least I'm keeping up on the news while I drive and (3) rocking out to my favorite albums on the way home to release the stress of the day (this way I'm already in a pretty good mood by the time I get home). Oh, and my boss asked me to start working till 5:30. At first I was very unhappy about this, but then I realized that the traffic if I leave at 5 on the dot is so bad that I get home at the same time anyway. Leaving at 5:30 means I still get home before 6:30, but I don't spend as much time just *sitting* there waiting for traffic to move and wasting gas.

  2. violetville

    These are excellent tips. I used to do hour+ commutes each way in both Chicago and Los Angeles (and by the way, don't let anyone tell you LA traffic is the worst – Chicago is THE worst, I guarantee it). Besides getting carpal tunnel syndrome (I'm not kidding – from gripping the steering wheel so hard from the stress!) I learned to speak both Portuguese and Italian. I recommend quitting jobs that require ridiculous commutes, but if you can't quit, these tips will at least lessen the white-knuckled frustration. That and some deep breathing!

  3. Rebekah

    thank you for your posts, Sarah.
    You always make me smile and usually I end up laughing!


  4. Law Girl

    Haha. Those are great ideas.

    I commute 5 minutes to work but my drive to school takes about 30 minutes. I often use the time to call my mom and chat. I also use the time to practice for interviews, trials, school presentations or whatever else I have coming up. I'm sure I look somewhat insane. And once in a while I do the pretend interview thing too!

  5. hannahjustbreathe

    As someone who commuted via public transportation or via my own two feet for five years and then had to make the drastic and horrifically painful transition to a 17-mile commute in gridlock traffic each day, I so, so, SO appreciate this post!! Bravo

  6. Colleen

    this is exactly what i needed to read today. my 26 mile St. Louis Park to Maplewood commute is atrocious on most days and extra horrible on bad weather days. i've mastered the car dance and know all alternative routes. book on tape is next for sure.

  7. Tegan

    I used to do a 30 minute commute to and from my old job on a tiny two lane, constantly under construction (for 2 years!) highway. I guess it never bothered me since I just let my mind wander and create stories.

  8. Gene

    My commute is either 15 minutes by bus, 20-30 minutes by bike or 45 minutes or so by foot. I dig podcasts, the funnier and more positive the better.

  9. Vanessa

    I always love going to work because I use my mp3 player for music. I know all the tunes (some of them exceedingly embarrassing) so I can easily rock out on my way.

  10. kathrynoh

    I used to have a horrific drive to work and found starting work really early (I had flexible working hours) helped. I just had to be super motivated to get up early, but the thought of a much shorter time in traffic really helped 🙂

    Atm, I have about an hour bus/train ride and I use the time to study Japanese (yes, I am a Virgo, had to laugh at that). I am also thinking of doing a run/walk trip home a few times a week instead of going to the gym. I'd ride my bike if I wasn't so scared!

  11. Chloe

    I quite enjoy my 30 minute bus ride to art school, daydreaming whilst listening to my ipod. Going home is a different matter because I'm allways so eager to just be home already.

  12. Emma

    my commute is an hour! i am on my 4th audiobook. i recently joined a book club and listened listened to the first book club book while driving. i also sing lots to myself and generally try to enjoy that time as much as i can – while also attempting to quell the road rage (and now have tried to completely stop talking on the phone while driving – so all the more time to "read" the audiobooks :)).

  13. Princess Haiku

    I have tried to enjoy my commute more but it's hard to with all of the wild west drivers in Northern Cal. I do take the opportunity to play great music and enjoy the stunning view of the Bay Bridge. An alternate route isn't available unless car diving is an option – Sometimes when I am sandwiched between demon eyed, exhausted truck drivers, I vow to start using my feet as transportation. However, checking the brakes is a great suggestion. This is an engaging post btw.

  14. FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com

    I just use the time to think.

    It's nice having to just think about the driving and then have your own thoughts running through your head

  15. Material Girl

    >> If you're really ambitious (or a Virgo) you could even listen to language-learning tapes. >>

    AHAHAHA! as a very-Virgo Virgo, I have run the edifying podcast gamut, from This American Life to Coffee Break French, which is totally awesome. The guy & girl who narrate it are Scottish, which means that in between the French practice, I get to hear adorably-accented English too. All my edification is on hold, though, since my stereo is now broken… as is my catalytic converter, which means that March is new-used-car-buying month… hello, new Virgo project.

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