As if the January blues weren’t bad enough, commuters were met with yet another reason to feel reluctant about returning to work this new year. With rail fares rising an average of 3.1%, some unlucky people found their season tickets reaching the £5,000 a year mark.
Despite the Rail Delivery Group insisting that this is the lowest increase in four years, it has naturally resulted in a huge backlash, with critics bemoaning the imbalance of a system which appears to be rising three times faster than the average employee’s income.
For many, rail fares and price hikes are an unavoidable cross to bear, making those hours spent on a train feel all the more frustrating. But if commuting is inevitable – just how can you at least make it a little more bearable? If you’re a train regular, here are a few tips on how to lessen the stress of your journey…
Learn a language
When you break down the numbers, commuting is a time vortex. If it’s one hour there, one hour back, that’s at least ten hours a week you probably spend reading over shoulders or listening to other people‘s conversations. But instead of thinking of it as time wasted, why not take advantage and do something more productive? Learning a language, for instance! Here’s a handy guide to a few of the best apps; download a few beginner courses and you’ll have the basics in no time.
Listen to audiobooks
If you’ve been stuck on the same page of your paperback for a month straight, try an audiobook instead. Not only does listening instead of reading make the story come alive, but it’s also a great way to shut out your fellow commuters, switch off and get lost in your own imagination for a short while each day. Now when else do you ever get the opportunity to do that?
Learn to switch off
Lots of people use their commute to read emails, catch up on work or browse social media. But this kind of activity could actually be doing you more harm than good – instead, by switching off your smartphone and relaxing your mind (and eyes) for a while, you’ll be able to recharge your batteries; leading to a calmer, more relaxed you and maybe even a better night’s sleep.
Do something enjoyable
If you’re racing home to get in another episode of Breaking Bad, why not watch it on the train instead? The trick is to use your home Wi-Fi to pre-download the content you want to watch on the go. Just learn to ignore those people watching over your shoulder…
Get ahead of delays and cancellations
If journey disruption is the biggest stress of your commute, try to avoid by it staying on top of what’s happening. Do this by following your train operator on Twitter and making a point of checking before heading out of the house each morning. That way if you hear of a particular cancellation or delay, you might be able to change up your route to avoid disruption instead of landing right in the thick of it.
Claim money back on delays and cancellations!
Claiming on a train ticket can seem like more hassle than its worth, but in reality: it’s easy. Did you know that you’re entitled to money back on most delayed trains? All it usually takes is a quick form to fill in. Alternatively, check out the likes of FixMyTransport.com – a site which aims to help or resolve any public transport issues on your behalf.
Do something you don’t normally ‘have time for’
Whether it’s doing your tax return, writing a shopping list or calling a friend on the way home (except in the quiet carriage…); think about those activities that are always slipping your mind at other times of the day. You’ll feel extremely productive and best of all: you’ll have more free time once you get home.
Get more exercise in between
Commuting on a train is yet another period of time spent stationary. This can really contribute to feeling even more sluggish and miserable (especially if your final destination is an office chair). So, think about ways you can interrupt your journey with exercise – perhaps get off and walk the final few stops or forgo the last leg of the bus home in favour of a bike ride. You’ll feel much more energised and it’ll reduce your time on the train!
Are you a year-round commuter? Let us know how the price hikes have affected you, plus any tips and advice on improving your train journey.