Not every student moves into the dorms when they go away to college. Boarding in a dorm costs about an average of $10,389 a year so it’s no surprise that many college students choose to stay at home and commute to school. Although commuting to school has an advantage when it comes to saving money, it has its own challenges, like making sure you’ve packed everything you’ll need for the day, having enough gas to get to school, or, if using public transportation, that you’ve timed your schedule right. Such challenges are easy to overcome with these essentials for the commuting student:
Public Transportation Musts
If you’re commuting on public transportation, you’ll want to make sure you have your bus schedule, along with any transfers, timed out perfectly so you don’t end up late to class. Download a public transportation app, like Moovit, for real time status updates so you can make it to your bus, train, subway, or trolley on time. Moovit even sends service alerts to let you know if there’s a delay or other issue, great for avoiding getting stranded or missing an important class altogether. Taking public transportation to college isn’t all bad, in fact it has many benefits, like reduced fuel consumption and reduced carbon emissions. Plus, commuting on public transportation provides college students a great opportunity to catch up on reading, assignments, and studying—just be sure to pack a pair of earphones to help block out noise of other commuters and traffic.
If you’re driving yourself to school, there are some car essentials you’ll want to keep in mind to make sure you don’t get stuck on the side of the road or hit crazy traffic. Keep a set of jumper cables, and learn how to use them, in your car in the event your battery dies and your car won’t start. It’s also a good idea to keep a set of spare keys in your backpack in case you lose a set or accidentally lock them in your car. You should also make sure you have a full tank of gas to last you the week so you don’t have to stop by the gas station (especially if you’re running late) on your way to school. You might want to consider keeping a prepaid gas card in your glove compartment for when you run out of money and gas at the same time. Download a traffic and navigation map, like WAZE, to look for alternate routes to school in case of road blocks or other traffic problems.
A Durable, Comfortable Backpack
When you commute, you have to have everything you need for the day with you since there’s no dorm to run back and forth to. Unfortunately, that means you’ll need to be prepared to lug around heavy text books all day. One of the best ways to tote all of your books around is to get a seriously durable backpack. You’ll also want to make sure the backpack is comfortable, after all, you don’t want to kill your back carrying your books from one end of campus to another. You can help prevent back pain by evenly distributing the load, wearing both straps, and wearing your backpack 2 inches above the waist. Finding a backpack that will take weight off your back such as the Comet pack by Osprey, will make your gear feel like a second skin. Find one that has back comfort and safety, as well as durability, and padded straps for added shoulder comfort—your back will thank you later!
What to Pack in Your Backpack
What you pack in your backpack might change day-to-day, depending on your class schedule or after school plans. Regardless of your schedule or plans, some things that always come in handy and are absolutely essential for commuting students are device chargers, a water bottle, and sunglasses. Since it can be hard to predict how long you’ll be on campus, you don’t want to get stuck with a dead laptop or smartphone. Bring a charger for all your devices so you can plug in at the school library or cafeteria, or bring a portable charger to power up your phone anywhere. Keep a reusable water bottle with you to stay hydrated and save money. Try the S’well water bottle to keep your drink cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. Whether you drive or take public transportation to school, sunglasses are a must. Be sure to keep a classic pair of sunglasses on hand to keep the sun out of your eyes when driving (the sun can be blinding), and for looking good when walking to your classes.
Enjoy the Commute
Some may argue that living on campus is better than commuting, but commuting provides something life on campus doesn’t—a reprieve from being at school. So enjoy the commute, make a playlist of your favorite songs and turn every car ride into a karaoke party for one, until you make it to graduation!