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Surviving the Commuter Life {10 Things}


OH, commuting.

It’s a reality many of us have to face if we want to work in the city but live in the ‘burbs. Having the best of both worlds means that you’ve gotta make a few sacrifices — one, of which, means that you are probably braving the 101/405/134/210/I-5/insertfreewayhere. Every Monday through Friday. During rush hour. All. Year. Long. {p.s., LA was rated #1 on the Forbes List of Most Traffic-Jammed Cities in the U.S. — yikes}.

It’s enough to make you go all road-rage-Thelma-and-Louise-kinda-crazy, amiright??

car1 2

When people ask me, “How do you do that commute?!” while looking fearful that I might just SNAP at any minute, I usually offer up one of my pieces of advice for surviving the daily driving grind.  I mean, I commuted for over a year in this 2-door, no bells and whistles, shakes-when-it-hits-60mph, zero hubcaps, sans air conditioning and heat, piece of silver love:


It’s enough to give you nightmares.

If I could pull it off, you, too, can commute in your car with a smile on your face!  Here’s how it’s done.

 1. Check yo’ mindset.

If you think commuting is going to suck, guess what — it’s going to really suck.  First things first: check your anti-commuting ‘tude at the car door, and just embrace it. You have a job. And a car. What’s there to complain about?  Okay, soapbox rant OVER.

2. Get a buddy.

If you don’t have someone you can carpool with, you might be able to access a Park & Ride option to get you to work a) in the carpool lane, and b) without doing too much driving yourself.  Save gas, make friends, it’s a win-win!

Do you work for a bigger corporation?  Check to see if there is a classifieds section of your employee website, and solicit a friendly carpooling buddy in your area.


This is a pretty sweet deal, but now that my husband and I work for the same hospital (#gobruins) and his schedule is no longer evening shifts, we get to carpool!  Heyooo!  It makes waking up at the crack of dawn a little bit easier.

3. Take the scenic route.

My dear friend GoogleMaps will often suggest several different routes for my way to work, so if I’ve got the extra time (or depending on traffic), I might take a different way into the city.  For example, I take the PCH three or more days a week, even though it sometimes adds 10 minutes to my driving time.


A little ocean sunrise and salty sea air is enough to give me a commuter’s recharge.

4. Learn something.

Ever since my trip to Guatemala, I’ve been looking for a way to keep up with my Spanish-learning skills.  Lucky for us, there are plenty of Spanish radio stations to choose from!  {on the PCH, I can even pick up a station out of Tijuana!}

Also, if you’ve got that whole second language thang down, turn on some NPR, why dontcha.  Get up on what’s going on internationally {it’s a big, big world outside of the greater Los Angeles metro area} by tuning in to your local NPR station, or download one of their many podcasts.  I LOVED listening to Serial, and also enjoy This American Life and TED Talks.  For a list of top podcasts, check out this list here.

Sometimes, I even have Siri read The Skimm to me — it’s a witty and entertaining way for me to hear top news stories, and it’s hilarious listening to Siri completely gloss over the sarcasm.

Let’s face it — you’re already sitting down with nothing else to do but drive, and I’m sure you don’t really want to hear more of Ryan Seacrest in the morning.  Fill your brain with something useful, and frankly, entertaining!

5. Bottoms up.

I don’t care if it’s coffee, tea, chocolate milk, or a green smoothie {but, okay, I do kinda care if it’s alcoholic… and so do the police.} Having a beverage on hand is kiiinda necessary for me.  It keeps me occupied, and it’s hard to yell swear words at the guy who cut you off when you’re sipping on a homemade latte.


This may sound trivial, but it really does make my commute feel a bit more like I’m relaxing in my living room on the couch.  Wishful thinking, I know.

6. Get realistic.

When was the last time you tuned in to traffic on the radio, and they said, “Hey, guess what — there are NO accidents on the freeways today!”  Probably, oh, NEVER.  There will always be an accident. Just do yourself a favor and add at least 45 minutes to your travel time, and you will never have to break out into a panic.

 And if, for some miracle, there isn’t an accident on the freeway, worst case scenario is that you show up early for work and you have time to snag a double shot latte at Starb. #winwin

7. Be prepared.

I always keep a tote bag in the back of my car with a pair of running shoes, some workout clothes, and a sweatshirt.  You never know when there is going to be a landslide on the PCH or a SIG alert on the 405.  Oh, you know, kinda like this one time pretty recently when I was stuck on the California Incline and went 1 mile in 40 minutes [yes, I have proof]:


 Instead of sitting at a standstill with 10,000 of your closest friends, make the time productive and work up a sweat!

Sitting for 2 hours in the car every day can wreak havoc on your body, especially if you spend the rest of your day in an office chair.  Why not get in a quick workout? You’ll probably get home at the same time anyways, but this way you’ll feel better and not so restless when you fiiinally get home.

Navigate to a nearby park, a fitness center (day passes to many gyms and classes aren’t too exorbitant — and some even offer a free first class!), or just to the beach or nice (+ safe!) residential area for a jog.

8. Keep hunger pangs at bay.

I always bring my breakfast in the car, because no one likes a “hangry” driver.  It’s typically a smoothie (like this one!), which makes it easy for me to chug it with one hand on the wheel, but even cereal or toast is manageable for me.


As for the drive home, stashing a little bag of healthy snacks and extra water in my car also makes me a happier commuter.  Things like Trader Joe’s gluten free granola, SnapPea crisps, dried fruit, and roasted almonds will tide me over until I get home.  Plus, I like to think of them as food rations in case “the big one” hits and I’m stranded somewhere in my car! 😉

9. Flex your schedule.

This may not be a viable option for some of you, but as I always say… if you don’t ask, the answer is always “no!”

I used to work Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm, but after several weeks of unpredictable traffic and upwards of 2-hour commutes each way, I had just about lost my cool.  I asked my boss if I could change around my hours so as to avoid peak traffic times by even just a little bit, and lucky for me, he was quite flexible.

Now I work 10-hour days Monday – Wednesday, which gets me into the office earlier to avoid the morning rush.  BONUS: now I get to sleep in work out and run errands on Friday mornings, and just head into the office for the afternoon. Yay!

Moral of the story — if you can come in early or leave later, you might save yourself hours in the car each week.

10.  Reconnect.

Take the time to call and catch up with other family members or friends that you haven’t spoken to in a while.  Or, reconnect with yourself and spend some time in silence, prayer, or thinking through some life goals.  Sometimes, it’s a good way to wind down after a loooong day at work, or to get your day started on a positive note.  Turn off the radio, push past the awkward silence with yourself, and embrace a little “me-time” in your life.


How long do you commute each day?  How are you surviving?  Share your tips and tricks by commenting below!

#buckleup #donttextanddrive #staysane

xx, Nicole {LL805}

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  1. Kyle
    4 years ago

    As a commuter myself I would say I’ve done all of these, and they are all very helpful tips. ESPECIALLY suggestion 1. Also… I have successfully watched full length movies…that was the ONLY thing saving my sanity when it took 2 hours to get 15 miles. So maybe download that Netflix app if you don’t have it, hahaha!

  2. Ashten
    4 years ago

    This is your best post yet, Nicole!! I totally love all your tips! I have a 15 minute commute but I will use ALL of these!!


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