If you read my last blog post, you will know that I have recently moved. I moved from a Camden community that was literally a 4 minute drive to the Camden I work at, to a Camden community in which I now have a commute. If you are familiar with the DC Metro area, then you know that no matter where you are driving, there is traffic. I have joined the ranks of the 33.5% of Maryland residents that commute towards Washington, DC and Northern Virginia daily.
It has been a few years since I last commuted to work. I have enjoyed the luxuries of waking up late and the extra time to grab Starbucks every morning for the past 3 years. Many ask, why give up convenience for hours on the road? Sometimes you have to do what is best for your personal life, and in turn, spend some good quality time on 495.
In my 2 weeks of commuting so far, I have learned what not to do, and what to be prepared for. I wanted to share my list for those of you who are considering a lifestyle change that will involve more time in a car than you are used to.
- Be aware of state driving laws. In the state of Maryland, the use of handheld cell phones and texting are prohibited. The penalty can be anywhere from $40 to $100. Since I am not used to the handheld phone law, I now make sure that I keep my iPhone headphones handy in case of an emergency that requires me to call someone. I also recommend contacting your significant other and/or children to let them know you are on the road and unable to text. You can actually download an app that will silence your phone while you are on the road.
- Bring a snack and a drink. This may sound silly, but you never know when you will get the hankering for a granola bar. Most major highways do not have easy access drive thru places, so packing a few granola bars and a bottle of water is a great idea. I am the type that eating helps me to wake up when I am starting to feel drowsy, so I eat halfway through my morning drive so I am not so sleepy. I also bring a few diet cokes for the extra caffeine boost, since we all know I can’t halt my diet coke addiction.
- Listen to music or a book. I rarely drive in the car without some type of music or talking coming through the speakers. I make sure that I have all of my music set up before I drive to prevent any accidents from switching CDs or tracks on my phone playlists. I have also taken a liking to listening to books on CD. They are entertaining and help from hearing the same Ariana Grande song on the radio over and over.
- Have a backup route planned out. Traffic happens. Especially in the DMV. Not all of us are able to telework, so knowing a secondary route to work is crucial. It may take a little longer, but call your boss and let them know you are going to be a little late from the traffic.
- Leave earlier than you need to, just in case. I give myself an hour to get to work now, even though it takes 40 minutes maximum to get there. I am the type who would rather be early than late to work. This way I can get Starbucks or catch up on emails before starting my day out.
- Use the bathroom before you leave.
- Bring a change of shoes/clothing. I wear professional clothing and heels to work. When I am done with the day, the first thing I do is kick off the heels and change into my checkered slip on vans for my drive home. I will sometimes bring yoga pants and a t-shirt too, just to relax a little while dealing with the stressful driving situation.
Though I understand that everyone has a different commute and lifestyle, I think that we can all get through it together. Do you have any tips for commuting?