6 Budget Items to Improve a Public Commute


£30 and Under Products for a Better Public CommuteAccording to a recent study published by the Trades Union Congress, the average time spent commuting to work in 2017 increased nearly 18 hours over the course of one year compared to data from 2007.1 Even with the surge of remote work and the gig economy, most workers in the United Kingdom still have to manage a potentially lengthy daily commute. If you don’t have a travel buddy to help pass the time, the stress and boredom of a crowded bus or train can really add up.

Though you may not love commuting five days a week, that doesn’t mean you can’t use your time to sit back and relax or be as productive as you want to be. Beyond the basics, like your smart phone, e-reader and a solid travel canteen, these six items can help make your ride to work a little easier to bear.


     1. Journal or Daily Planner

As a public commuter, you have the luxury of letting your mind wander without needing to watch the road. Ever feel that some of your best ideas come to you when you’re not trying? Make sure you always have a physical notebook and pen with you to scratch down thoughts in case you don’t have access to a phone. Are you a doodler? Grab some coloured pens and get to work on a masterpiece. Need to plan your schedule? Make it a habit and let your daily commute set the tone for a productive day ahead.

You could also use the time to write in a meditation journal. On your way to work in the morning, jot down your intentions for the day or an inspiring quote to guide you. Recording your thoughts in a diary can help you manage your stress, depression and anxiety.2

     2. Shoulder Bag

Backpacks are a great choice for travel, but they can be somewhat bulky on a crowded bus or train. Don’t be the person who takes up a whole aisle with a backpack the size of a small child. This style actually has a USB charging port, lock, plenty of room and is designed to fit in tight spaces. Or, if you prefer more accessible pockets, a shoulder bag can give you the requisite space for essentials without getting in the way of your traveling companions.

     3. Credit Card Phone Wallet

When you’re at a bus station and you’re fumbling through your bag to find your pass, you’re holding up the queue with tired commuters behind you. With this slim phone card case, you can always have what you need to get around. Tuck in a couple notes and cards inside and leave your wallet at home. This super-sticky adhesive design fits on practically any device without the risk of slipping.

     4. Portable Charger

If you rely on your smart phone as much as the average person, the last thing you want is to run out of battery on your ride home. Today’s portable battery chargers are small, lightweight and powerful enough to restore your mobile from a dead battery with juice to spare. It’s a good idea to keep a fully charged battery in your bag for emergencies and not just the commute.

     5. Weather Protection

There’s nothing worse than starting your day in the midst of a torrential downpour. It’s easy to forget to check the weather before you leave in a rush. With a mini umbrella, you’re always ready for the next storm out of a clear blue sky. A compact, foldable model can stay in your bag and pop out when you need it most. Or, if you’d prefer to limit added weight in your bag, an emergency rain poncho will shield you and your work clothes from a muddy mess.

     6. Free Audiobooks

E-readers are an obvious choice for public transportation, but not if you get motion sickness, make a route transfer or have a walk to your stop. Rather than buying individual audiobooks, OverDrive is a service that actually lets you check out audiobooks from participating libraries. For access to older classics, LibriVox is a public domain audiobook database that lets you stream or download e-books, so you can listen to volunteers from around the world read masterpieces to you for free. If you use audiobooks a lot and a subscription service fits in your budget, Amazon’s Audible is a solid choice, and new users can typically get a free month trial.


Even if you’re not lucky enough to work from home or walk to your job, you can easily set yourself up for a more comfortable commute to help improve your overall work-life balance.



1Trades Union Congress. (13 November 2018). Annual commuting time is up 18 hours compared to a decade ago, finds TUC. Retrieved 13 August 2019, from https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/annual-commuting-time-18-hours-compared-decade-ago-finds-tuc

2Univerisity of Rochester Medical Centre. (n.d.). Journaling for mental health. Retrieved 13 August 2019, from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1


Bonnie P


Bonnie is a Chicago transplant who's committed to seeing the world on a dime. As an avid news junkie with a fascination with finance, she loves to help others do more with less.


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