The average daily commute in the U.S. is 45 minutes long, according to Citi's ThankYou Premier Commuter Index, and even longer in big cities (around 55 minutes if you're in San Francisco or L.A., 64 minutes in Chicago and a whopping 73 minutes for New Yorkers). For many of these mega-commuters, moving closer to work or changing jobs just isn't an option. So how do you cope? Here are 5 things smart travelers to do improve a long commute home.
They do the math.
Whether we're talking about gas money or subway passes, a long trip to work can be expensive ($2,600 a year, on average). Smart commuters do the math to determine how to get the best value. Does it cost less to drive halfway and take the train in, or to drive the whole way and park downtown? Money doesn't buy happiness, but a torturous commute can be made more bearable when you shave extra savings off the top.
They study their commute.
Fifteen minutes can make or break your day. When you have some flexibility, try out small variations in your route, such as leaving home or the office 30 minutes earlier or later than usual. Small changes–like catching an earlier train or traveling with a different wave of drivers–can actually make drastic differences in overall travel time.
They make the commute predictable.
The number one cause of commuter stress isn't road rage, increasing costs or even the length of your commute–it's the unpredictability, according to a study from Polytechnic University in Brooklyn. So learn a route that takes uncomplicated and unpopulated back roads instead of delay-prone highways.
They find valuable entertainment.
Time flies when you're having fun (and learning something). Don't just turn on the radio. Use your commute time to do something personally enriching, like listening to an audiobook or interesting podcast.
They have a plan for landing.
A long commute doesn't end the second you walk through the front door–many people still need time to decompress before they're ready to jump into life at home. So communicate your needs–quiet, alone time, a house without unexpected guests–to the people you live with to make a rough commute easier on everybody.