The Ultimate Student Commuter Guide

Despite what certain news articles about our generation might have you believe, the vast majority of college students aren’t lazy at all. You know this. You’re probably one of them. This is for students who don’t live on campus and instead commute to school and work, often not returning home until evening. It takes a different kind of preparation to keep everything you might need for a day full of classes, sports, work and social activities with you throughout the day. If you live far away from campus, you also spend a lot of time in the car—like, a lot of time. Depending on where you’re located, people can spend up to two hours in the car every day. Here are 6 ways to be prepared for anything and to use your car time wisely while you commute:

1.  Audiobooks

One of the biggest hassles about long commutes is the time factor. You could lose 2-3 hours a day in your car going from place to place. However, for certain students a huge part of their workload is reading. Apps like Audible and iTunes let you download books onto your phone and listen while driving! It can be a great way to study, catch up on assigned reading, or even just expand your knowledge. No matter what you do, it’s a great way to make sure you make the best use of your car time.

2.  Pack Your Bag

A frequent issue you probably run into is those long days. You know the kind. Where you get out the door at six and you don’t get home till twelve in the morning. These days can be pretty exhausting and expensive! Having a bag packed and ready in your car can make a huge difference. Keep a bag in your trunk fully stocked with:

  • Water bottles
  • Changes of clothes
  • Deodorant and other toiletries
  • Healthy snack bars
  • Extra pens
  • A spare notebook
  • Medical kit
  • Lighter
  • Emergency energy drinks
  • Gym outfit and tennis shoes
  • Extra phone and computer charger

For those constantly on the go, having a few extra supplies around can be invaluable. It’s also suggested that you pack a lunch and dinner if you know you’ll be away from home for long periods of time to save on that cash. In all, just packing lunch can save you up to $1,500 dollars each year.

3.  “Alertness” Playlists

One of the biggest dangers you encounter in a life on the go is falling asleep at the wheel. This can be deadly. That’s why “emergency energy drink” was on the earlier list. But music can also seriously help you if you’re getting drowsy. Make a Spotify playlist of music that makes you move, whatever that is. From Hannah Montana, to Baby Metal, to Tech N9ne. There are even pre-made playlists available on Youtube. If you can’t help but sing along when you listen to it, cue it up, blast it, and always drive safely.

4.  Basic Car Maintenance

One of the biggest downsides to the constant commute is the cost, especially students who bust their butts all day just trying to pay off their ridiculous student loans. The last thing you need is to pay extra to have your oil changed, or worse, the huge cost of NOT changing your oil. Basic car maintenance will also improve the amount you spend per gallon on gas, which will save you loads of money over time when you fill up your tank. Basic car maintenance can seem pretty intimidating, but it’s really simple once you get the hang of it. Changing your oil, replacing air and oil filters, and recharging your air conditioning are all things that can be done with minimal investment and, once you get the hang of it, minimal time. For the truly adventurous, you can even give changing your brakes a chance. If you do decide to go this route, get your parts from a wholesaler like Rock Auto, and save loads just on parts alone.

5.  Gas Apps

Another huge cost for commuters is gas. If you’re not careful, you can end up spending over $100 a week just on fuel. One way around this is by carpooling. Grab your buddies and head into campus together and have them toss you some cash for the trouble. If you really want to be clever, though, download a gas price app. Apps like Gas Buddy and Gas Guru search out the lowest prices near you. Used correctly, you can save between $10 to $15 a tank! Another great way to save on gas is by joining a club like Costco. Costco famously undercharges its members for gas, and if you can survive the infamously long lines, you’ll save a ton of money.

6.  Love your Car

We get it. The broken-down Camry from 1992 that you roll around in isn’t exactly a looker. The only heads it’s turning are from people who are wondering how that thing still runs. Sure, it rattles so much when you put it in reverse that the top of your head bounces off the ceiling, and sure, you have to take the spark plugs out to get the engine to shut off, but that’s your car. No one else’s. You’re going to be spending a lot of time in there, so you should learn to love it. Spruce it up. Get cute seat covers that make you smile every time you see them. Put shag carpeting in the back just for a laugh. Be sure to keep it clean and vacuum it out once a week or every other week. Having a clean space that you’ve made your own can really make those long commutes a little more bearable. If the furry dice make you laugh at the end of a long day, then it’s totally worth it.

Being a college student is a lot of hard work. Unless you live on campus, you’re going to spend a lot of time in your car, commuting back and forth. Some people love the drive, others would almost rather walk if it didn’t take so long. I hope this article gave you some helpful tips on how to make that commute a little more enjoyable.