If you’re going to survive a regular commute, you absolutely have to become an expert at planning your journey. I don’t just mean your route, though obviously that’s important too, and you need to have alternatives mapped out in case of cancellations and unscheduled maintenance that can ruin your journey.

 

No, by ‘journey planning’ what I mean is collecting together the things you need to make your commute bearable so you go into work still refreshed and not actively homicidal. I like to have my breakfast on the train because it gives me a little extra time in bed, especially as I have one of those timer coffee makers. All I have to do is roll out of bed, fill my travel mug and grab a cereal bar and I’m on my way (alright, I also shower first). Once the coffee is all gone, the mug just gets shoved into my bag to be forgotten about until the next morning when I’m desperately trying to find it and the cycle repeats itself. Always make sure you’ve actually finished the coffee first, it sounds obvious but sleepy mistakes happen and then you’ve ruined your bag.

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I always bring a book as well, and an MP3 player with headphones is absolutely necessary if you want to avoid making polite conversation with total strangers before you’re even properly awake. I have a friend who just brings headphones (she can’t afford an MP3 player) and tucks the end into her pocket, and she says it works just as well as the real thing.

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Once every couple of months I have to fly to Vienna for meetings, and this is where my commuting skills absolutely shine. First, you need a good solid bag that’s compact enough to fit under an aeroplane seat. I like any of these.

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Put your passport and essential travel documents into a folder or case with a pen for filling in the forms, and slide them into the bag against the side. This will make it easier to find them when you need them.

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Now, the liquid ban is frustrating but not a real problem. Just make sure you buy water when you get through security and you’ll be fine. Food on the other hand is something you want to plan. While you can always rely on the airplane food, and sometimes it’s edible, I like to bring my own. Don’t bring anything with a strong smell, high liquid component (they will take it off you) or, worse, a serious allergen like peanuts. I suggest either an apple or banana (though good luck keeping the latter from getting squashed), mixed nuts (but no peanuts) or pretzels and cheese (but again, not a strong smelling one) with crackers. You’ll either want to keep them on the top of your bag or put them in some tupperware to keep them from getting crushed. I also like to bring a light fleece blanket, the sort that folds up fairly small, as the air conditioning on those fights can be murder and no one wants to wear a coat while trapped in an airplane seat for hours.

 

Never work on a plane unless you have to. I keep my briefing papers and anything else essential in my bag just in case my hold luggage is lost, but put them in a nice folder and forget about them. Instead, bring a magazine or a novel and curl up under your blanket with your water and your snacks and try to be as relaxed as possible. This way, when you disembark you’ll look slightly more put together than everyone else, and if you’re going straight to a meeting or conference that will give you an edge.

 

And remember, unless you’re flying at night never go to sleep! Doing that is always a disaster. Happy traveling