Real Life: How to survive commuting?


Picture taken on the commute home

I watched a presentation by @medickinson on presenting/public speaking for introverts. She makes a great point on how introverts get over stimulated more easily than extroverts.

There is actually some science behind it in terms of how we actually have different tolerances to the stress hormone dopamine.

During the presentation of this data I realised that maybe I am not imagining that going to big cities makes me really tired. Big cities can be really overstimulating.

We are presented with tonnes of adverts, it is noisy, there are tonnes of people, there is less space than in the countryside. Just now I realised that me being an introvert means that it is no wonder that this tires me out.

This gave me the idea of the introverts survival guide to commuting.

To put into perspective I have commuted locally in all sorts of ways, by bus, walking whenever I can, cycling, driving etc.

But what I had never done before was travel really far and do that by train.

This changed 3 months ago, when I joined Songkick in London.

With no intention of moving to London I knew this meant tackling the commuter train.


My platform at 6:30am

The commuter train to and from London is sort of special. You get different types of people at different times.

The earliest I have managed is 6:31 to London and it is full of snoring people and zombies.

Today someone was asleep opposite me with his eyes open! Scary!

I am also a sleeper even at 7am, but I wasn’t initially. I think the actual commuting and being in the city has made me so tired that I need the morning to myself sleeping.

In case sleeping in carriage full of people worries you, here are some other survival tips:

1. Noise cancelling headphones – Great for those noisy snorers, loud eaters, or blocking out the ones that actually talk to each other!

2. Kindle – light, easy to hold and read. A book will do as well but can be bulky to carry around.

3. Tablet/Phablet – download videos onto your tablet or phablet. This can be some great distraction, or even learning experience. I download Ted talks on a regular basis. 🙂

4. Podcasts –  my new favourite! Podcasts are a must for at least the morning if not evening as well. My general favourites are: Criminal, Your are not so smart, Serial, This American Life and Welcome to Nightvale.

5. Music – maybe even try new music! You will hardly ever get an hour to yourself to just listen to something new. Then when you like them and want to see them live near you, why not download the songkick app.!? 😛

6. Good backpack – What do I mean by good!? Well it depends on your use cases but I need one that is cushioned, has a laptop compartment that is cushioned, big general compartment for running gear, lunch, water bottle and other bits and pieces. Waterproof is a major win as well, especially if you walk around London a lot like myself. I also like wide and well cushioned straps that you can also fasten across your body. I know the look sucks but if you are late and need to run you don’t want the bag to jump all across your back.

7. Water – I have broken out water separately here because recently I have been feeling faint on the train, especially when I have had to stand up. It is very important to keep hydrated during your commute, kids!

8. Snacks – In similar vain as water, you never know how long your commute may be. In three months I have had 4 or 5 trains be on time. Carry some snacks with you in case you don’t make it home in time for dinner.

9. Notepad and pens – The commuter train can be a great place to unwind and let your thoughts wander! You never know what great ideas you will have. Make sure to have pen and paper to hand to write them down!

10. Knitting – Now I unwind with crafting. I can’t really sew on the train (I don’t do hand sewing) so I knit. I have so far made a cowl, a hat and working on a jumper. It can be really nice to not feel like you are wasting your time by just waiting.


This has been knitted 80% on a train

11. Coffee – Now a good coffee can make the day! Make sure you are friendly to your coffee provider so they start recognising you and make you your usual! This saves time in those moments where you got out of bed a few mins later than usual and you can still catch your normal train!


Coffee! (although I have since given up – no coffee for a while now)

Also keep your stamp cards. Commuter train coffee can really drain your pockets!

12. Apps and Social Media – make sure your trainline’s twitter account and news page is easily accessible! You never know when there may be too many leaves on the tracks causing a delayed or cancelled train! You will be thankful for making checking these part of your morning routine, because they may enable you to have another half hour snooze!

These are some ideas to get you started. I left out actual work here, but do feel free to do some work on the train or write your next blog post up, as I am doing. 🙂

But let me tell you it was not easy! Now after three months of commuting it is getting better, but I struggled with exhaustion, travel sickness, leg cramps (suddenly walking 8-10km a day) and I even passed out on the train (this showed me that commuters can be nice and helpful).

3 thoughts on “Real Life: How to survive commuting?

  1. Done all of these, except knitting a bloke my size knitting is not a good look. On the film front Amazon Prime kept me well entertained for a couple of years until I left London. I found striking up random conversations with people was quite good fun and normally ended with some giggles. As well as meeting some really interesting people. Although maybe a little difficult for an introvert, you could look at it as self development Kim 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe! Thanks for your comments Lee! I have ended up helping people, especially later in the evening when they didn’t know how to get to a certain place. This resulted in a funny conversation with an air stewardess who turned out to be from Germany and I could practice my German a bit again! It can be nice to talk to people, but for me that is definitely an evening thing. I am not very talkative too early in the morning. 🙂


  2. I’d add Audible to this list. It’s really therapeutic to sit and listen to a book (and there’s no fear of travel sickness when reading on a moving train) 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s