Tips for train commuters

The ideal commute is a short walk from your home. Unfortunately, for many of us that is not an option. Just over a year ago I moved and began commuting via train. During that time I have learned some lessons, below are a few of my commuter tips.

Learn the arrival/departure outliers for your chosen routes.

Whilst train operators try to keep to a schedule, non-dramatic events can mean the train is often 1–2 mins early/late and it is important to know these outliers. For example; ff the train often arrives early, it’s good to be there those few mins early to ensure getting a seat or if the train often leaves late then you may be able to slow down your dramatic rush to the station :)

Have a backup plan for service downtime

Twice on my commute thus far there was a complete failure on the line due to electrical problems which blocked the line for my old diesel train. The first time this happened, it lead to frantic googling for an alternative route home on public transport, the second time I was relaxed as I already knew the route I needed to take and had a backup plan.

Research cheaper tickets

Many commuter lines will have options to bulk-buy tickets or purchase a multitrip tickets at reduced prices. In Ireland there is a scheme for most public transport routes and this can save you quite a bit of money on your commute.

Invest in good earphones/headphones

I am all for a good conversation but often I want to concentrate or relax during my commute so earphones are for me a necessity. When you are picking out a pair, try to get sound isolating and one that includes a mic for the odd time you recieve a call.

Choose your listening material

My go-to choice of listening material is a combination of Spotify and podcasts depending on my mood. One tip for both is to cache/download some material for when your commute is in an area of little or no reception.

Use layers of clothing

When I first began commuting on the train, I chose my clothes for the day based on the current weather. After numerous days standing in the rain at the platform waiting to go home in my tshirt I decided to do 2 things:

  1. Buy a tiny foldable umbrella for my laptop bag
  2. Pack a foldable coat in my bag and/or pack a jumper

Try out different locations

Where you sit or stand on the train can have a big impact on how enjoyable your commute is. My advice is to try out different carriages/seats on the train to see which you prefer best. Some people like to be near the exit for a quick departure, some near the toilet etc. Once you have tried a few, you can settle back into being a creature of habit ;)

Follow your service provider on Twitter

Although service providers are pretty good at updating commuters about issues/delays through their apps and websites, often the quickest form of update comes from fellow commuters tweeting the service providers. Many times I have found out about a delay via twitter before the service provider has announced the issue.

Juice up your devices

It’s pretty annoying when you open your laptop screen to see <10% battery remaining and you have work to do or information you want to research. Try to make a habit of recharging your laptop at the end of each day in work to avoid this scenario. The same goes for phones, although I treated myself to an excellent Anker powercore which allows you to charge your phone a number of times if needed.

Perhaps buy an ebook reader

I say perhaps here as I go through phases of enjoying reading on a train to not-enjoying it. I think a lot depends on how busy/warm/bright the train is and also on your mood. For what its worth I bought a Kobo Glo reader so I can read during the winter months.

I hope the above tips help you on your commute, if you have any other tips feel free to comment or tweet me @jamesmwhite and I will add them to this!

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