How To Manage a Long Commute

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 28, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated October 28, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Every day, working professionals travel to their place of employment, and for some, the distance between home and work can be long, stressful and even pricey. If you have a long commute, you might need help to ease the strain of commuting. If you're applying for a job with a long commute, it's important to think of ways to help you cope with traveling long distances. In this article, we discuss what commuting entails and provide you with tips on how to survive a lengthy commute.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Work-Life Balance

What is commuting?

Commuting typically refers to regularly traveling a certain distance from your place of residence to your place of work, whether by driving your own vehicle or using public transportation. A commuter is someone who travels this distance. The length of a commute depends on various factors including the distance between your home and workplace, your mode of transportation, and any traffic that could cause your length of travel to be longer than usual.

A reasonable commute depends on the commuter and how much they think it's worth to travel a certain distance for their employment and salary. If a commute gets to be too long, you can consider finding a job closer to your residence or that lets you work remotely, or better managing your time to fit the commute in your schedule.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition and Examples

How to handle a long commute

Traveling a long day to work can be taxing for a lot of people. The more often you do it, the more stressful it can become. Despite this, there are several ways to cope with a long commute. Here are some tips on how to handle it:

  1. Leave for work early.

  2. Create a relaxing environment.

  3. Be strategic.

  4. Try public transportation or carpooling.

  5. Pack food and beverages.

  6. Limit technology.

  7. Determine your job satisfaction.

1. Leave for work early

Leaving home and getting on the road earlier than usual can help relieve a great deal of stress. When you leave with plenty of time to spare, you'll avoid any worry about arriving to work late. In addition, leaving early might get you to work earlier than expected and will likely impress your employers. Consider leaving at least 15 minutes earlier than usual to help with a long commute. Also be sure to allow extra time for filling up your tank with gasoline, and plan ahead for days when you'll need to do that.

2. Create a comforting environment

During a long commute, it can be helpful to make your car ride more enjoyable. Think of what type of entertainment you can utilize during a long commute and which will prove most beneficial to help get your mind off your long commute and intense traffic. Listen to your favorite music to suit your mood, from upbeat songs to acoustic tunes. Listen to an engaging podcast or audiobook that teaches you something, which could save you more personal time by learning while you drive.

You could also spend your commute calling your friends or family hands-free through your car's speakers.

Another option to make your commute more bearable is to pack a portable essential oil diffuser to breathe calming oils such as lavender or cedarwood while you drive to work. This will help you relax and clear your head before you enter the workplace.

3. Be strategic

Being strategic can also be beneficial. There are several ways to be strategic depending on your specific commute and location. For example, consider the days with the heaviest traffic and prepare to leave for work earlier than usual on the days you anticipate more traffic. It's also important to consider any toll roads and how they affect your route. In some cases, they may make your trip more costly but will get you to work or back home earlier.

If you're at a new job with a long commute, it can also be helpful to scope out the fastest routes to take before your first day, and then save these routes in a GPS app on your phone or in your vehicle's system. You should also consider what public transportation options are available to you. Ultimately, planning your commute strategically can make a big difference.

4. Try public transportation or carpooling

If driving long distances is too stressful for you, consider your public transportation options. Though it may take you longer and cost you more to get to your destination, it might give you more time to yourself to clear your head and ease your worries about dealing with traffic. Many companies offer free public transportation, as well.

You can also drive yourself for a few days a week and use public transportation for the rest. Use the time you would have spent driving to read a book, listen to a playlist or prepare for your day's work, upcoming meetings or presentations. You can also take a short nap while riding public transportation.

You might also consider carpooling with coworkers who live in your area to ease the burden of driving yourself.

5. Pack food and beverages

If you didn't have time for breakfast or just find yourself hungry during your commute, packing snacks can provide you with a quick pick-me-up. Consider packing snacks that are energizing and full of protein, rather than starchy or greasy food. It's also helpful to carry water with you. If you bring a snack along for the ride, you'll have a more positive attitude. Bringing your own coffee or food can also save you the extra time of stopping off at a drive-through.

6. Limit technology

Before you head out on your commute, consider limiting or eliminating your technology time altogether. This includes not checking your email, social media accounts or answering any incoming calls. Take some quiet time to yourself both before and during your commute to give your mind time to rest and recharge before starting your workday.

7. Determine your job satisfaction

Lastly, if your commute feels too long no matter how hard you try to implement coping mechanisms, consider if it's worth it. If you're wanting to advance with the particular company you're working for, a long commute could be worth it. However, if you're unhappy with your position and you don't feel like you're being paid enough to outweigh the emotional and financial cost of commuting, consider finding a new job with a shorter commute or that lets you work remotely, which has become an increasingly popular option. If you do want to stay with your company, consider asking your supervisor if working remotely is an option, even if just for a few days per week to ease your commute burden.

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