The definitive commuter survival guide

As a commuter, most of your time is spent on a bus, train, or streetcar, so finding ways to maximize productivity and comfort during these times is imperative. Here’s a useful guide to make those long trips home a little easier.

Things to do

With hours of your day spent travelling to and from home, finding ways to stay busy is crucial.

Music: There’s no better way to pass the time than listening to your favourite album. Apple Music and Spotify Premium are available ad-free with downloading features at discounted student prices, which is usually your best bet for seeking an infinite amount of music for an infinite commute.

Podcasts: Use your commute to learn about why Beyoncé’s Lemonade is iconic, discover historic European rebellions, or refresh yourself on the morning’s top news stories. Podcasting is by far one of the most entertaining and informative uses of time. Even better: most podcasts are free.

Readings: If you’re not in the mood for tunes or podcasts, spending time to catch up on your readings or assignments can be useful. Why? Because once you get home, you’re not opening up that laptop ‘til the AM.

Comfy fashion

The only way to tolerate the long and sweaty experience of commuting is to dress comfortably and keep handy accessories.

Invest in a good wallet: As a commuter, your wallet is your everything. From your house keys, your PRESTO card, and your Metro Pass, your wallet is your key to the world.

Good bag = happy back: Along with your wallet, your bag is with you the entire day. Like a best friend, choose your bag wisely. A bad bag can break your back, but a good bag will always have your back. My personal favourite is Fjällräven’s Kånken backpack.

Comfortable sneakers = happy feet: In my first year at U of T, I sprained my foot wearing fashionable yet uncomfortable shoes. You will thank yourself for investing in a good pair of sneakers when it’s 9:40 am and your train leaves at 9:43.   

Saving (and spending) money

If you don’t keep track, money will leave you and never come back.

Pack a lunch: Campus food isn’t cheap, and come finals time, you will love yourself for not spending all your cash. It may not be the most ideal, but you will thank yourself for saving some money.

Maintaining a social life

Living off campus can seem very isolating at a place as large as U of T, but there are plenty of ways to stay involved and make new friends.

Make friends during frosh: When it’s 12 am and you can’t make it home, having a friend on campus who will let you crash is integral to your well-being. Everyone is looking for friends during frosh, so take advantage and you might just find a new companion — and a future place to stay.

Go club-hopping: Joining student clubs is a great way to fight isolation at university. Unlike high school, there is a massive pool of people with a diverse range of interests. Find what works for you!

Utilize your college, faculty, and campus perks: Each college, faculty, and campus has offerings for commuters. From rentable non-resident rooms to free food and common rooms, check out their websites to see what they can do for you.

Schedule, schedule, schedule

As a commuter, staying organized is essential. With a two-hour commute, late night activities can be highly detrimental to your sleep schedule.

Find common areas and social spaces: Every college has a common area, so use them to nap, recharge, and hang out.

Midday classes are best: In university, you learn that classes before 11 am might as well be at 4 am, and classes after 6 pm might as well be at midnight. Try your best to schedule midday classes, and you’ll thank yourself later.