Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Commuter Diaries

I've wanted to do a post on commuting for a while now, but typical to Stacy fashion, I never want to write about something until I've experienced it for 6 months. What's so magical about 6 months? I don't know, but it's about the time I start to feel knowledgeable about a new experience.

So, today folks, I've been at my job exactly 6 months (I know, hard to believe). This map shows my commute (click on the map to move it). On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I only drive between Points A and B...40 miles each way. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I drive A to B and then B to C (additional 16 miles) and C back to A (55 miles). I work from home on Fridays. For those of you just tuning in, I commute because we live in the town where my fiance works (a larger town), and so, one of us had to commute. We chose me because we didn't want to move and because my car and schedule are far more conducive to a commute.

View Larger Map

Total mileage per week: 380 miles. The college reimburses me for 64 of those miles each week (for going from points B to C), which means I get $32/per week from them. I probably go through about a tank and 1/2 of gas a, about $68/per week (currently gas here is about $3.45/per gallon). After reimbursement, I spend about $144 dollars (give or take) a month on gas. I think it's good to know what you're spending on the commute.

This brings me to my very first tip for commuting. It's obvious, but so true: Make sure your car gets good gas mileage. I think I get about 25-26 miles per gallon (highway). This isn't great, but it's not bad either. I always look at gas prices in all 3 towns I visit to determine who has the cheapest gas, then, I make plans accordingly to buy there, even if it means filling up at only the halfway point. My other car tips would be to realize that your car does not need an oil change every 3,000 miles if most all of your miles are highway. At first, I was wasting some money because I didn't realize this and wanted to make sure I was taking proper care of my vehicle. Speaking of proper care, you need to make sure you are diligent about watching and replacing your tires. For commuters, I recommend using Discount Tire and paying for the warranty. This has saved me a lot of money. Lastly, you need to join AAA. The $100 for my membership (which allows me 3 tows of 100 miles per year) has been well worth it. I've already used two of the tows (one for my car, one on a co-workers when we commuted together), and I can't tell you how much peace of mind it brings me.

Some other tips? Look for opportunities to share a ride. A co-worker that lives in Midland and I do this for meetings or other events where we have to be there at the same time (our work week schedules don't mesh).

Safety Tips: Don't text while driving...if you want to talk, dial before driving (or have Siri dial for you). Don't drive in bad weather...better to miss a day of work than to put your life in danger (luckily, I've only had to miss one meeting so far, and it was easy to make up). Don't drive near large trucks if you can help it (I always pass around them). Don't fidget with radio or search for things in the car. Cruise control is your friend, but leave a good stopping distance between yourself and other cars.

What To Do on Commute:
Talk on phone (safely)
Listen to Books on CD (I need to do more of this)
Enjoy your beautiful surroundings
Listen to the radio (NPR News in the mornings) or a favorite CD

My mother has been a commuter my whole life, so I think it's funny that I became a commuter too. Sometimes, you just don't know what life has in store for you. The commute can be a pain, but it's also something I got used to pretty quickly, and it can have its enjoyable moments. For all commuters, I recommend yoga class. A commute can be physically bad for your body (all that stiff sitting), but yoga really helps me stretch and work the stiffness out of my muscles.

I hope this post helps someone who is thinking about a commute! There are a lot of pros: namely, my commute enables me to have a job I love.

Drive safe!
<3 S, B, L&Z

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