How to Make Your Commute Exciting

Commuting in Amsterdam

Commuting in Amsterdam

While reading this blog many may be tempted to think “Sure, this is all fine and good for rich people with no job! I have to work 50 hours a week to get by, so none of this is possible for me!”.

Actually, this blog is precisely for them! The whole internet is full of articles about high end technical outdoor gear, and month-long wallet-destroying trips. This is a space for the 99% of us who want to spice up life but don’t have high wages or unlimited time.

What better way to get a taste for excitement than literally during our commute to work? Occasionally mixing up your routine will add variety to the daily dullness that work can be. All journeys to work are not created equal- short, long, highway, city, country, bus, bike, car, pogo stick- some ideas will work better for certain people.

Let’s be constructive and brainstorm a few ways to spice up a variety of commutes. I encourage you to keep an open mind and tweak ideas to fit your situation if necessary!

UNDER 10 MILES

  • Bike Commute

    • Biking is the easiest way to add fresh air and exercise to a working day. It also makes us more intimately familiar with where we live, and the exercise fights off the creeping malaise of the daily grind.

    • Start small; try one day a week and avoid jumping to buy special gear. With time, anyone can work their way up to biking this distance nearly every day, which will make a commute permanently better!

    • With the money saved and the fitness gained, new doors to adventure will be opened in the future.

    • The time commitment is low. For reference, I can bike 7 miles to work in 35 minutes or less, and I am far from Tour de France fitness level. Driving takes at least 20 minutes in perfect traffic. Depending on where you live, driving and parking during rush hour could take longer than biking.

    • See “The Quick Guide to Start Bike Commuting” post for more information.

  • Walk!

    • I can hear the scoffing already, but hear me out! Walking brings us up close to the world, forcing us to observe instead of passing quickly by. New things will be noticed, even in places you’ve driven through 100 times.

    • How many of us actually walk around and explore every inch of the town we live in? I expect very few of us have. Even a familiar place can feel new and exciting on foot.

    • This has a high time commitment, but try it at least once! If the commute is more than a few miles, take the bus to work and walk home to halve the time. Walking 6 miles takes most people roughly 2 hours with a steady pace. Do you ever watch that much TV in one night? Take an evening off from the screen!

Taking the light rail in Portland, Oregon.

Taking the light rail in Portland, Oregon.

UNDER 30 MILES

  • Divide Your Commute

    • Stop in an unfamiliar area during on the way to or from work. A place can feel very foreign even just a short drive from home.

    • Go for a short walk, or stop at a cafe (or bar) and soak up the atmosphere for 20 minutes.

    • The time commitment is low; make this a weekly tradition or do it any day that was particularly soul crushing.

  • Avoid highways

    • Highways suck. For endless miles all that can be seen to either side are grumpy, rage filled drivers and pavement. And after all that the only reward is to arrive at work! Google Maps has an “avoid highways” selection under their “route options” to make finding a calm route a breeze.

    • For example, I take a 25 mph street that travels through parks along the Mississippi River. This route takes 5 minutes longer than the highway when there is no traffic (often its faster). To me, an extra few minutes is worth the peaceful drive to work instead of crawling through 5 full lanes of honking traffic.

    • Live too far from work? Try taking a country highway instead of the interstate. This will be a similar effect, as country highways can often be very open and scenic.

    • Extra time required: 5 to 15 minutes.

  • Take a different route

    • Take a different exit on the highway, go down a different street. Maybe even get a little lost. Driving around aimlessly is an expensive waste of gas, but it can be exhilarating to be impulsive see where you end up.

    • Extra time required: 5 minutes to hours, depending on one’s navigation skills

OVER 30 MILES

  • To prioritize adventure in life I strongly recommend a shorter commute. Making big changes in life is hard, but throwing so much time and money into driving to work is even harder. That being said, pick one item above and do it once. It will take more time and planning, but it will be more memorable too!

I have done a lot of these, but not all. Biking to work is very convenient where I live, which actually makes it hard to break the routine! However, walking to work is on my To Do list, and I’ll be share the experience with you when I do. Until next time, have an exciting commute!