Generally speaking, most of us are introduced to the idea of commuting at a pretty early age. It may start with a big yellow school bus full of childish antics. In time, many of us end up driving ourselves to high school once we've earned our coveted driver's license. Then, eventually the destination of our commute melds into a workplace. Now, depending on where you live, your place of employment and the transportation scenario in your locale, the characteristics of a commute can vary greatly. Regardless, unless you work from home (and your commute is merely a staircase) the daily transportation grind can really begin to take its toll! With this in mind I've gathered some tips for commuter survival, based on my nearly 110,000 miles of commuting history (yep...I did the calculation!) This isn't simply for folks in my position - where the responsibility of getting safely to work is up to a subway and train conductor - but also for those folks who hop behind the wheel each and every morning. In part one I'll explore fun commuting options for passengers, but I'll soon be back with tips for those folks that are "skipper" of their own ship.
Newsworthy If you're like me, the hours between 8:00am and 6:00pm are packed. It's tough to truly stay "current" on current events. Enter the news aggregator. Why? Well, with the help of apps like Zite, Flipboard, Google Currents, and Pulse, you're able to create remarkably customized and visually sweeping personal digital magazines.
Based on interest areas and preferred sources, these apps all provide you with a completely personal news experience, whether on your smartphone, tablet or e-reader. And most of them make it very easy to share great stories with your Facebook Friends or Twitter following, making you the insider. It's a great way to pass the time and stay informed when you're on a train, in a carpool or hopping the next bus.
A picture's worth... Boredom can be a frequent symptom of commuting and, if this is the case for you, it's possible that all you need is a creative way to look at the world around you and people you see day-in and day-out. A great way to do this is to become an amateur photographer or videographer. How you might ask? In April, fellow House Party blogger, Mike penned a piece (Smile! - The coolest photography-based apps) that mentions some great options. The key is that with the help of some of the technology many of us carry around in our pockets, we now have the ability to delve into our visually creative side to a degree that would have made Ansel Adams' jaw drop. Whether you're dropping-in some tilt-shift effect on Instagram or considering whether to order some actual prints from Hipstamatic, the great thing about these apps is, no matter how novice you are, they can help provide a new perspective on average, everyday settings you might otherwise miss.
If you want to up-the-ante and play with moving pictures, give Socialcam or viddy a try. Better yet, if you're working with an iPhone, you've got all you need to record, edit and produce videos that can really hold-their-own thanks to HD recording and iMovie. Aaaand...action!
Shut-eye No technology involved here! Well, wait...that's a lie. Allow me to explain. Sometimes the best way to use your time on the commute (again - as a passenger!) is to supplement your sleep cycle. If you're anything like me, almost as soon as you've hopped on seemingly any form of transportation - car, train, subway, bus, you name it - your eyes are already getting droopy. There's something about the movement and/or the meditative passing of the landscape outside that puts the sandman on high-alert.
So, if this is the case, why not indulge yourself! You might as well listen to the message your body's sending you. Tip here is to know pretty accurately how long it takes till your stop or when you arrive each day, set your alarm or a timer on your phone or watch and it's time for some shut-eye. After all, the National Sleep Foundation indicates that "more than 85 percent of mammals sleep...in short segments throughout the day." So don't fight nature, get cozy! (But, beware the snoring in public, ok? And try not to use your neighbor's shoulder as a pillow.)
These are only a few tips for the commuter, with more soon to come for those stuck behind-the-wheel. We'd like to open this up to you now: How do you make the most of your commute?