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12 Things to Do on Your Commute

Jonathan Boldes
Jonathan Boldes February 16, 2016 Jonathan Boldes is a former Senior Business Development Manager at Arlington Transportation Partners.
ATP TAKEAWAY: There are many ways to enjoy your commute, take a look through this list to see if there’s something you’ve been missing!

When you choose alternative transportation to get to work, you find creative ways to keep yourself entertained. Keeping out from behind the wheel opens up a multitude of activities beyond listening to the radio day in and day out. Here’s a list of some of our favorite transportation pastimes as well as personal preferences from ATP colleagues.

1. Read a Book

Dog reading a book


We’re not saying you have to lug around one of those ancient tomes made of paper, though we definitely approve of those. You can take advantage of great apps on your phone to download books and read them on your device. Alternatively, you can purchase a Kindle or other e-reader if you want a dedicated e-book option.

Fun fact: our Vanpool Connect riders are randomly entered into monthly drawings where they can snag a Kindle for free! If you're interested in joining a vanpool - let us know here.

2. Listen to Music, Podcasts, or an Audiobook

Headphones. Never leave home without them. Listen to music to keep your mind in a zen-like state (and drown out unwanted ambient noise) or pick out that book or series you’ve been dying to read but not putting forth the effort. The audiobook route is especially helpful for those who have to commute more than an hour each way.

Brendan: Occasionally I listen to podcasts on my phone's speaker so that I don’t have an earbud in while biking. When I do Metro, I listen to podcasts or read the news.

3. Get Started on Your Day

Sitting on the bus or train can give you a distraction-free environment to plan your day peacefully. Use a notebook to plan what you’d like to get done, both at work and at home. You’d be surprised how much just a little planning can streamline your priorities.

4. Do Your Makeup

Apply eyeliner with caution, but you could break up your makeup time between home and during your commute. Obviously, this won’t work for everyone. But don’t knock it before you try it!

5. Study 

Many workers also go to school part-time to continue to hone their skills. Use the Metro as a study hall period to work on homework and catch up on your studies. You can also use one of many language apps to learn something new or just brush up on your already developed skills.

Maggie: I’ve been working on my Spanish by listening to podcasts and completing daily app activities during my commute. Just another way to get in a little extra practice while on the bus.

6. Take Advantage of the Free Exercise Opportunities

Elizabeth riding bike
Photo Credit: Sam Kittner/

Keara: When I bike or run, I get more exercise and don’t have to work out later in the day, saving me time.

Elizabeth: Even though I don't have a long commute (just under three miles), I am grateful for my cumulative 30-minutes of exercise. It reduces the amount of time I need to spend in the gym, it wakes me up in the morning, and helps me unwind after work.

7. Ride a Bike or Walk to Relax Your Mind

Alli: Living a mile away in Courthouse, I arguably have the easiest commute in the office. I enjoy walking to work because it gives me an opportunity to slow down and really experience my neighborhood. It’s shocking how much you can miss by only driving around Arlington.

Brendan: I enjoy the mental relaxation of being able to clear my mind and focus on enjoying the bike ride.

8. Buy a Puzzle Book 

Cat crossword

Grab a crossword or Sudoku book and slowly work your way through all the puzzles. It helps keep your mind sharp and passes the time quickly.

9. Eavesdrop (Tastefully)

Don’t judge – we know you do it, too. Sometimes people can get animated and put on quite a show for those trying to get from point A to point B. We aren’t saying to do anything considered rude, but what people voice aloud can sometimes be better than any show or movie.

Maggie: Oh I’m not ashamed to admit that I love a good transit creep/eavesdrop. I have some seriously good Snapchats from my commute. #NeverForget that one time I witnessed a full-blown pedicure happening on the Red Line. PedEgg and all 😷.

10. Stare into Space

You know those times during your day when you just sit back, stare at the ceiling, and wonder about what stars are made of? That’s okay. We do, too. Judgement-free zone in this blogisphere. The benefit of being on public transit is now your car won’t careen off the side of the road. We can all get behind that.

11. Think Extensively About What You Want for Lunch

Let’s face it. Breakfast was so 20-minutes ago. Time to start drooling over the prospect of tacos, pizza, or any other misguided choice of calorie-laden gluttony that involves you not eating your correctly portioned meal in a Ziploc container.

12. Consider the Meaning of Life

The meaning of life, 42

Commuting is a necessary evil and much like any repetitive task can become tedious. On your next trip, why not spiral into a world of existential self-reflection about the universe and your place in it.

But most of all, pick what makes you happiest! There is a long list of possible time-consuming choices when using active transportation, but the one that really works is the one you enjoy. Love music? Don’t forget your headphones. Need some quiet time after your neighbors stomped on the roof all night and you barely slept? Bring some ambient music and a pair of headphones.

We hope you enjoyed our list and are able to grab a tip or two on your next commute to or from Arlington County—and maybe even make you give alternative modes of transportation a second thought. If you need help planning your commute, click the giant pink banner below.

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Tags: Bike, Bus, Carpool, Walking, Arlington County, ATP Staff, Commute, Transit


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