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Coping with a Long Commute to Work

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of time..." Dickens bellows forth from my car stereo speakers. Never before have those words summed up my life as well as they did in that moment as I sat in traffic. Commuting long hours to work is just about the worst thing imaginable. Never-ending traffic jams can make a good job seem like a prison sentence, not to mention make you question your life choices. But there are ways to cope with a long commute to work, many of which help you pass the time while waiting for your long drive to be over.

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A Killer Commute for a Killer Job

My life totally changed when I moved to Southern California. Initially, the great adventure to Southern California was very fruitful. It wasn't long after I arrived that I found a terrific job, the kind you can't wait to call home about. I'll never forget calling my mom, slightly breathless, after my second interview. "I think I just got a job." Six years later, I still had that great job, but a lot of things had changed.

Last year I moved, again. I had an opportunity to buy a condo in Long Beach and couldn't pass up the opportunity. But, much to my dismay, that decision would drastically change my life. In exchange for home-ownership, I had to resign to live the life of an LA commuter.

Long, slow, and utterly exhausting were the trips to and from work. But what else can I do? Dream job vs home ownership: the choice seemed easy. But somewhere, in the middle, lies The Dreaded 405. And somewhere, in one of the 6 lanes of traffic, I sat listening to Dickens.

It was, indeed, the best of times. It was, indeed, the worst of times. And because I'm not the only one destined to live a life of long days and traffic jams, I've written a manifesto of sorts. How to cope with a long commute to work when you've no other choice.


Audiobooks are essential for the commuter. Programs like Audible, offer digital copies of pretty much any book you can imagine. Most programs require a monthly subscription, which can be costly. But when you compare the cost of purchasing a new book to the ease of opening a digital file on your phone to enjoy on the ride home, the price doesn't seem as steep.

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Apple Music

Apple Music is another great way to pass the time during a long commute to work. Honestly, I couldn't cope with commuting to work without Apple Music. Sure, there are similar programs (Pandora, Amazon Music, and Spotify to name a few), but I much prefer Apple Music. It easily integrates with your existing library, and the ability to create custom playlists (like my wicked-awesome Classic Rock playlist) featuring your favorite tunes is awesome. Plus, many new cars have Apple Car Play, which totally amplifies the whole driving experience. Apple Music also uses smart technology to create custom stations for you based on your likes and dislikes (move over Pandora)! It's the best $10/month I've ever spent.

BONUS: New subscribers get 3 months FREE!!!


Podcasts are perfect for commuters, provided that you've found one that interests you. There's something about the format that makes me feel very studious, so I like to learn as I listen to podcasts. The great thing about podcasts is the sheer number of available topics and styles available. If you're not familiar with podcasting, it's kind of like a radio show but better.

Podcasters regularly create new content about a specific topic or style of content, and listeners tune in for updated content when they want. Many celebrities, journalists, and other interesting people have podcasts. Serials, or fictional stories in serial format, are also popular podcasts. Check out your app store to find a podcast app for your device and start downloading.

some of my favorite podcasts

Flex Hours

Flexible work hours are another great way to cope with a long commute to work. It may be worth asking if you can adjust your hours to avoid peak rush hour traffic. I was able to adjust my work schedule from 8-430 to 7-330. By doing so, I essentially cut out an hour or more from my daily commute. If you're unsure about your job's policies, simply ask. The worst they can say is "no."

Working from Home

Telecommuting is quickly becoming a trendy option for modern commuters. Essentially, telecommuters can work from home or anywhere they have computer & Internet access. Telecommuting isn't the same as being a digital nomad, though both can be appealing when you're dealing with a stressful commute.

For people who live in highly populated areas like Los Angeles and New York, working from home is an ideal alternative to commuting. Unfortunately, not all employers are willing to offer that type of flexibility, yet. And, furthermore, not all jobs are conducive to telecommuting. As a social worker, much of what I do must be done in person. So telecommuting isn't an option for me.


Ridesharing is a popular option for many commuters, but it wasn't for me. I'll take my privacy and freedom over carpooling any day! But that doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a try. Major metropolitan areas and many large employers offer incentives to carpool, like reduced parking fees. You can also access carpool or HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes or save money on toll lanes with more than one person in the car. Still, I like to come & go as I please. I also like to listen to loud Classic Rock on the way to work. Not many other people appreciate AC/DC blasting at 6 am. Just saying.

Albums to Annoy Your Rideshare Mates

Toll Roads

Though they may be costly, toll roads can be another great way to reduce drive time. And, let's be fair, anything that cuts down time behind the wheel is worth the expense. After all, coping with a long commute to work means that you have to make sacrifices. Fewer lattes per month is a small price to pay for access to the fast lane!

Public Transportation

Public transportation is an option for many people in larger metropolitan areas. Some might argue that commuting via public transport can be just as frustrating, but at least you have some freedom to read, work, or sleep. Unfortunately, public transportation doesn't always mean shorter commute. Sometimes, it simply frees you up to relax. Still, public transportation can be a solution to your commuting woes.

Job Search

Get a new job. Sounds simple, right? But the truth is that finding a new job isn't always easy. Jobs may be plentiful at times and non-existent others. And if you're trying to advance your career, then it's important to be super picky about jobs. But, in the end, finding a new job may be the only way to cope with a long commute. After a year and a half of 3+ hour commuting per day, I finally found another job. Get familiar with popular job search engines, like Indeed and Monster, when (or if) you get serious about finding a new job.

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