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College Commuter Survival Guide

College Commuter

If you live at home or on an off-campus apartment, you’re a college commuter! It can be really frustrating at times to not have the luxury of being able to run back to your dorm room throughout the day. Of course, you already know the many benefits of living off campus such as cheaper accommodations, privacy, and no communal bathrooms in sight!

Commuting doesn’t have to be a drag! Actually, I really prefer it. I’ve lived off campus since my sophomore year, and now I live in an apartment which is about a fifteen-minute drive from campus. It takes some planning, but I make it work! Here’s my college commuter survival guide to give you some ideas for making commuting a breeze.

Plan Your Schedule

You can actually optimize your schedule to fit your college commuter lifestyle! If you are commuting a really far distance, like over a half an hour each way, you might want to try to schedule all of your classes on two or three weekdays. That way, you won’t nee to worry about making the drive every single day! Personally, I’m a die hard Tuesday/Thursday scheduler. I base my class choices around fitting everything in on these days. Some semesters I’ve needed to settle for Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes, but Tuesday/Thursday is definitely the way to go if you love four day weekends like me! However, you’ll need to consider whether you can handle having five or so classes on one day. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you’ve got the endurance I highly recommend it! Helpful hint: try to schedule an hour or so in the middle of the day as a break for lunch.

If you can’t arrange all of your classes on one or two days, try to arrange them back-to-back. Having large gaps of time between classes is even more frustrating as a commuter since the break usually isn’t worth driving home for. Try to have all of your classes in the morning or in the afternoon if you can, with few long breaks in between so you don’t have to wander around campus for a place to camp out.

Pack a Lunch

I have always been a lunch packer my entire academic career. I brought a PB&J sandwich legit EVERY DAY for like ten years of my life. And you know what, sometimes I STILL pack the classic PB&J. I’m not ashamed! Packing a lunch will help you avoid eating out all the time, which I definitely tend to do during gaps of time on campus. I pack snacks for class, as well as an actual lunch that I can each during my break. My student center has a microwave, so I always bring leftovers and heat them up so I can enjoy a hot meal while doing some reading.

College Commuter

I have a small lunchbox I can fit in my backpack for snacking between class, but I’ve even gone so far as to bring a cooler in my car. If you have a break during the day you can stop back at your car to get your lunch if you don’t want to carry it around all day. I’d also suggest keeping snacks and water in your car at all times. A box of granola bars and a few water bottles will go a long way, and you’ll be glad you brought them when you start craving your campus bistro!

Here’s a short list of my favorite easy-to-pack snacks as a college commuter:

  • Fruit
  • Hummus and Pita Bread
  • Granola Bars
  • Leftovers
  • Nuts
  • Crackers

Bring Extra Clothes

I don’t care if you think you’ll never ever need them, please keep an extra pair of clothes in your car just in case! Once, I had to walk to campus in a torrential Florida downpour and I got SOAKED. I had a presentation that day which I had to give while completely drenched, and I also was super uncomfortable for the rest of the day. I ended up skipping my last class because I couldn’t focus anymore. If I had extra clothes in the car, this would have never been an issue!

I’d also recommend having some travel sized toiletries and makeup items that you use a lot. This can be handy if you get caught in the rain like I did and need to touch up your look, or if you need to wash your face or something. Bringing an extra set of clothes and some toiletries also helps if you decide last-minute to spend the night on campus in a friends room.

College commuter survival guide

Be Prepared

When you’re a commuter, you have to be prepared for anything. You should have a small first aid kit in your car with basics like pain reliever and Band-Aids because you never know. Also, an umbrella goes without saying (see my rain story above if you aren’t convinced). If you want to get really crazy, you can even bring a blanket and pillow for naps between classes. I know this might sound bizarre, but it’s actually really common! I’ve spoken to other commuters in my class, and everyone loves a good backseat nap in their car between classes!

Textbooks are also a nice thing for college commuters to keep on hand throughout the day. I bring all of my books for all my classes in my trunk even when I know I wont need them in class. I don’t carry them around all day, I just leave them in my car. This helps in case I want to work on an unexpected assignment during a break. I hate when I want to work on something for a class but I left the book at home. It’s really frustrating, and I’m not about it.

college commuter survival guide

Are you a college commuter?

Do you commute to college? Do you have any tips for making life easier? Leave them in the comments so everyone can check them out! This is my second year commuting, and I’m just starting to make the most of it! Happy commuting!

 

 

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  • Great tips! I agree with all of these! I commuted to school by bus for two years, then when I go married my husband and I had an apartment that was walking distance for my final year. 🙂

    Honestly I just treated school like it was my job. I went to school at 8:30 in the morning and left at 4-5 depending on how much work I had to do. The commuting wasn’t so bad when you have an entire evening at home to look forward to 🙂

    For people who commute using public transit, I would emphasize GET A LOCKER. You can often rent these in the gym at your school for next to nothing (ours is $40 for the whole year) and then store an extra change of clothes, make-up bag, gym clothes, and all your textbooks there 🙂

    Rebecca | Life as a Dare

    • The locker is a great idea! My school doesn’t have those, but that would be great if they did. School definitely feels like a job when you’re there 9-5! Unfortunately, I always work night shifts at my part time job, so it ends up being a long day! Thanks for sharing, and great tips!

  • Shaina McGregor

    Yes! I go to school in NYC, and I commute from Brooklyn. I’ve learned to appreciate being a commuter because I get to go to a completely different place and unwind. Preparation is surely key as a commuter. As a dance major and full college student; I always have to be prepared if not overly prepared. Some days I have even had to pack breakfast, lunch, and dinner because I would not get to return home for the day and it saves money to not eat out everyday. This is also my second year commuting, and long breaks are usually the hardest. Usually they’re not long enough to hop on the subway and come back, or I just won’t make it back, but they’re still long enough to feel like it’s too much idle time. This year making a blog has really helped. Usually I go to the gym or do homework in my breaks, but now I can also work on my blog and network with other bloggers. My time goes by so fast and my breaks don’t feel as long.

  • Hannah

    I’ve been a commuter all four years of college (I’m a senior now) and love it. Sometimes I feel like I miss out on a lot of big events, but I like being able to completely get away from school stress!

    A tip I use is listen to Audiobooks on your commute. I drive about 25-30 min to school, so I get through soooo many books this way.

    • Yes! I also listen to audiobooks and podcasts! I go through soooo many, but it’s super relaxing.