How to Make a Long Commute More Bearable
All drivers (and passengers) know that long commutes are tough both mentally and physically, so whether you’re in the car for a few hours each day on your way to the office or you’ve got a huge road trip coming up, planning and preparing for that huge chunk of your day can be beneficial to your personal comfort, yes, but also your personal development and wellbeing.
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According to a recent study by Volvo and The Harris Poll, 55% of Americans believe the number one threat drivers face is distracted driving, higher than the more common road threats, such as driving under the influence (31%), driving aggressively (8%), or speeding (3%). Phones were cited as the top source of distraction, at 43%. That’s why it’s vitally important to choose your entertainment and prep for your drive appropriately. You don’t want to be anxiously fumbling for a new playlist or trying to check Instagram on Car Play while in the thick of your commute – even if you are at a red light.
We’ve spoken to a handful of driving and automotive experts, as well as executives who face long business roadtrips and commutes to the office on a weekly and daily basis to see what they do to get through – and actually enjoy – this car time. From podcasts and playlists, to choosing the right socks, here’s everything you need to make your commute more bearable.
Catch Up On Your Favorite Podcasts
“Find something good to listen to (that isn't always music),” says Louis Watton, Marketing Executive at Shiply. “Whether it's an audiobook or a podcast, having some sort of conversation or story to listen to can often make journeys much more bearable. I often find that they are a lot more distracting than music and hours can go by when you are lost in a story.”
Listening to music isn't quite as exciting as a podcast because podcasts feel more like a conversation rather than a one-sided listener/artist relationship. “Podcasts are a great way to stay engaged and awake while driving,” adds Jonathan Mendoza, Content Marketing Specialist at Fueled. “I've found that when listening to podcasts, I get so caught up in whatever is being discussed that I don't even realize how much time has passed.”
Make It a Trip
“Choose somewhere nice to stop for food on the journey,” suggests Watton. “Before you leave, find somewhere nice along your route where you can stop and eat. Not only will this rest and refuel you but it helps to split up a long drive and gives you something to look forward to in the middle.”
Plan Your Wardrobe Accordingly
“You don't have to be wearing a full tracksuit to be comfy at the wheel, but wearing suit trousers for an 8 hour trip is just not going to be comfortable and you will be better off in something, er, looser,” says Watton.
If you are going straight into the office, consider a pair of comfortable slacks or even chinos. These do look more casual than suit trousers, but you can get away with sneaking into the office bathroom to change without being caught in your sweatpants.
"Gentlemen who travel frequently spend a great deal of time seated, which may result in poor circulation and discomfort throughout the legs,” adds Nathan James of Boardroom Socks, Inc. “A great way to prevent this is by wearing a high quality pair of wool over-the-calf socks. The over-the-calf length ensures that the socks remain up all day, eliminating the constant slipping and sagging of traditional socks.” This type of sock also strikes the perfect balance between comfort and compression, combating swelling and promoting blood flow while you’re seated for long periods.
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Take a Break From Caffeine
This one may be hard for some, but if you’re a coffee-lover, this is a great life hack. “In the days before a huge drive, lay off on the coffee to let your tolerance drop or reset,” says Craig Anderson, owner of Appliance Analysts. “Save it until you’re deep into the drive, and suddenly that roadside coffee becomes a wonder shot of motivation and alertness. It’s a huge, huge difference compared to chugging mug after mug because you’re too tolerant to feel it (not to mention the toilet breaks!).”
Alternatively, you may want to skip caffeine altogether. According to Tony Arevalo, Car Agent at Carsurance.net, “If you don’t drink enough fluids, your body may quickly get dehydrated during a long commute, which causes you to feel tired and weak. When you’re driving, the best choice is to drink only water instead of sodas or other artificial drinks since these contain sugar, which also makes you feel exhausted after a while.”
Work as a Team
If you’re planning a roadtrip with a significant other or carpooling with a colleague, consider asking them to take their role as shot gun seriously. “Giving people designated roles (driver, navigator, playlist DJ) may help everyone in the vehicle feel empowered when it comes to road travel. Furthermore, it can offer the added bonus of taking passengers’ minds off of how the driver is doing,” says Dr. Jess Carbino, Bumble’s relationship expert sociologist. “For example, invite your son to take charge of the playlist for the road trip. Not only will it help create a conversation with him, it will keep him focusing his thoughts on an activity vs. how the driver is driving.”
Take Care of Your Car
“While rare, a roadside breakdown might be the most painful part of any road trip or long commute,” says Richard Reina, Product Training Director at CARiD.com. “Of course, life happens and breakdowns are sometimes unavoidable, but if you can stay on top of simple car maintenance you can lower your chances of having an issue during a long drive.” When was your last oil change? Is your battery more than three or four years old? Are your tires inflated to the recommended pressure and free from any cracks or splits? Reina suggests that checking these few things prior to a trip can help prevent a breakdown, which can make any trip go south very quickly!
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