Smooth Rider: Your 10 Commuting Essentials

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Posted by The Editors on August 4, 2011
Smooth Rider: Your 10 Commuting Essentials
After two months of commuting into Philadelphia by train, I now understand why people carry briefcases and purses practically the size of Glad Trash Bags (yes, the big ones). It turns out these oversized bags—well, the contents within—make life a little easier. If you’re new to the commuting world, get yourself a spacious, sturdy bag to carry this list of the 10 most essential items every commuter should carry.

      1. First-Aid Kit
         Okay, I’m not talking the ones with gauze pads and the whole shebang. For me,  
         this means: a few sizes of regular Band-Aids, those handy Advanced-Healing 
         Blister Band-Aids, a travel packet of Neosporin, and some Advil.

         For some reason, my ability to walk across a flat, stable surface without finding     
         something to trip over only lasted through high school. And I’d be thrilled to find 
         one pair of work-friendly shoes that don’t lead to blisters. In any case, don’t get
         stuck with a cut or blister and no way to remedy it. Clean and cover those battle
         wounds!

      2. Reading Material
          My commute lasts approximately one hour, unless of course the train is feeling
          irritable that day. Bringing along some reading material, whether a work-related 
          article, an e-book, or magazine, will certainly help get you through that extra
          half-hour lag due to an unexpected delay. Forgot your latest issue of The New
          York Times at home? No worries. Stations are flooded with abandoned
          newspapers.

      3. Music
          There have been many days where I’ve suffered from brain over-extension, in   
          which case I tune out the world and relax to the soft sounds of Norah Jones.
          Word to the wise: Make sure you’re headphones are plugged in properly; not
          everyone appreciates heavy metal. If you see anyone making the effort to turn
          completely around to stare you down, it might be time to check the hardware. Be
          respectful to those in your surroundings and turn down the volume.

       4. Headphones
           Headphones are made for listening to music, but just as effective as holding a
           neon sign that reads, “Do Not Disturb.” Not feeling particularly chatty today?
           Don’t hesitate to put in those buds, even if nothing’s attached on the other end.
           No one but you will know the difference.

       5. Comfy Shoes
           I used to envy people leaving the office in sneakers or flip-flops, but could never
           bring myself to done a pair of sneakers with my work wardrobe. (I know, totally
           ridiculous, but you just never know who you’ll run into!) One week and several
           blisters later, I realized fashion would only get me so far—it’s my feet that have to
           take me the rest of the way.

      6. A Pocket-Sized Notebook
          I like to carry around a small spiral notebook just in case a brilliant and profound
          idea comes to mind. You never know where and when inspiration will hit!

      7. A Lunch Box
          Lunch boxes aren’t just for kindergarteners. I rediscovered this the first week of 
          my internship. Lunch in the city can cost a small fortune so save your pennies 
          and make a sandwich instead. I worried at first about lugging around an ugly, 
          heavy box, but was completely surprised to find some really cute, functional lunch
          totes available at stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond and HomeGoods.

      8. Travel Coffee Mug
          Don’t go styrofoam unless desperate. Make one small change for the environment
          by using a re-useable coffee cup, and you’ll also avoid ruining another commuter’s
          morning. I’ve seen many people accidentally kick their cups over after placing it
          on the floor, which inevitably results in a brown, sticky river flowing down the
          aisle onto everyone else’s stuff. Don’t be that guy.

      9. A Compact Umbrella
          For the torrential downpour you didn’t see coming.

     10. Sunglasses
          Just in case you want to catch some Z’s or avoid the blinding late-afternoon sun.

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