Commuting from Long Island to New York City this summer has taught me the valuable lesson of time management. It’s also taught me the cardinal rule of NYC commuting:
If you wake up late and leave the house late and miss your train, you’re screwed and late for work.
If you wake up on time and leave the house on time and make your train, you’re still screwed and late to work because we can’t have nice things.
Moral: Public transportation is notoriously unreliable, ESPECIALLY if it’s the Long Island Railroad.
At the end of the day, you cannot control public transportation (especially the Long Island Railroad), but here are 3 tips on how maneuver unseen and unavoidable commuter struggles:
1. Remember: The Early Bird Gets the Worm
Some days the trains are running late, some days you miss your train, and some days you have to get out at a different spot.
If you’re anything like me, being late stresses you out — like REALLY stresses you out. You start to sweat, get real hot in your ears, your heart beats faster, and you break a sweat.
But what if you could avoid all of that unnecessary stress?
This is a simple solution, but it’s important: Wake up earlier or just move faster in the morning to land you on an earlier version of the train, bus, subway, or ride you normally take. The more time you have to get where you need to be, the more you’re allowing yourself some wiggle room if something out of your control transpires. If you end up being early, it will allow you to pick up a nice meal on your way the office!
Being early is a great way to fit in some me-time and even makes you look good to your boss!
2. Know Your Route And Its Alternates
Going anywhere unfamiliar is nerve wracking. Sometimes even going somewhere you know can be nerve wracking!
Picture this: it is your first day at a new job or internship. You’re coming out of Penn Station except you go up a different set of stairs than usual. All of the sudden you are on 31st and 6th when you are supposed to be on 32nd and 7th. You get all turned around and take even longer to problem solve because with every passing minute you are later and later. And panicking.
How to avoid this?
Try to map out your route beforehand or preform a dry run the prior to your first day. (This is a great thing to do with your class locations during your first week on campus, btw!) Know which train will get you there, where you need to transfer in case your train doesn’t come, what exit to take to get you to a familiar spot, etc.
And for days when your oh-so-reliable iPhone GPS poops out or your service isn’t working, make sure you have your route memorized or at least mostly memorized.
You can’t always control the speed bumps you will hit, but you can control knowing how to navigate your route!
3. Bring the Essentials
True story time: It was a rainy Thursday morning and I was getting ready for work as usual. It was a more casual day because I was going on-location for a photo shoot so I opted for jeans and sneakers.
That was my first mistake.
The forecast called for rain so I donned my yellow raincoat and an umbrella, convincing myself that those two things would keep me as dry as I needed to be on my 10 minute walk from my parking spot to the station.
That was my second mistake.
Have you ever seen those movies where a girl is dressed nicely and standing on a rainy street corner? A big truck is a little too close to the curb and SPLOOSH, the girl is soaked. But that only happens in movies right? WRONG.
Imagine having that happen to you. And THEN having to go through an entire humid day with wet jeans and sneakers that are completely soaked through because you don’t have anything else to wear. Needless to say I was that crazy lady on the subway huffing and puffing with my feet out of my sneaks desperately trying to dry them off.
Learn from my mistakes.
Preparation is key for any commute. Stock up on small emergency items like hair ties, safety pins, and bandaids. Bring an extra pair of shoes on a rainy day even though your bag will be heavier. Opt for outfits more weather appropriate by thinking “what if,” and even better, keep your favorite extras in the office.
Trust me, better safe and comfortable than sorry!
Enough about my stressful commuting stories, I want to hear from you in the comments below!
What is your commute like? Have you ever run into an unavoidable scenario? What are your commuting essentials? How do you maneuver your commuting catastrophes?