WHILE Metro Manila remains the city with the worst road congestion in the country, it no longer has exclusive claim over traffic jams.
Cities like Cebu, Baguio and more, now have more vehicles than their thoroughfares could accommodate. The situation is made worse by potholes, lack of driver discipline and rainy season flooding. With conditions like this, what is a motorist to do?
Once upon a time, my daily commute took me from Quezon City to Sta. Rosa, Laguna and back, five days a week. On a good day, it would take me an hour and 15 minutes to get to work, and an hour and 45 minutes to get home. On a bad day, you can add an hour each way. That was my life for five years, after which I traded Laguna for Makati, which was closer in distance, but not much better in terms of commute time.
I used to let the traffic get to me, and road rage occasionally reared its ugly head. All that did, however, was increase my stress levels and make me even more tired when I got home. So over the years, I found ways to get past the frustration. For the most part, I’ve become really good at staying calm while cooped up in my car, and I’d like to share my secrets with you.
It all starts with preparation, and that starts with making sure you go to the bathroom before you hop into your car. That sounds funny, but it is crucial to the next tip— bring a bottle of water and have some snacks in a handy plastic case within reach. I have a favorite 1.5-liter water bottle that keeps my water ice cold, but that’s just my preference. I fill it up before I get in the car. Snacks don’t have to be fancy or filling. In fact, the best I’ve found is crackers. I prefer small, bite-sized ones and put them in a reusable container to keep from spreading crumbs (a car owner’s bane). Hard candies are actually better for mess-prevention but all that sugar is quite bad for you.
For those who are more carefree with food in their cars (or have someone regularly vacuum/shampoo the interior), small sandwiches can serve as breakfast or dinner for meals on the go. But, please don’t have anything that needs utensils — it’s a serious danger.
On a related note, if you have snacks in the car, having tissue and wet wipes are a must. They’re extremely useful for non-food related messes, too. Another top tip for keeping the car clean is to have a small trash bin in the car for the food wrappers and tissue, so that cleaning up after your trip is quick and easy.
Music and podcasts
While music is great, it’s also easy to tune out making it less than ideal for staving off boredom (or road rage). That is, unless you want to release your inner Bruno Mars and sing along. Having a favorite radio show, like Boys Night Out, also helps. My favorite audible form of entertainment, however, is the podcast. There are so many audio shows out there that cover a huge range of topics. A few favorites of mine are Jalen & Jacoby (American sports), Autosport Podcast (racing), StarTalk (science and discovery with Neil deGrasse Tyson), and the HBR Ideacast (business). It’s not hard to find a topic that will keep me engaged in such a way that the long drive ahead goes by quickly.
Now, if I happen to be having a really bad day, I’ll listen to standup comedy. You can find these in podcast form as well, in shows like Two Dope Girls or in music services like Spotify or Apple Music. Nothing staves off the blues like a great comedian making you laugh your heart out.
Keep in mind that you could only listen to podcasts or stand up comedy if your mobile phone is on, and making sure you’ve got juice in your mobile device is a priority when it comes to your daily commute. A 2.4- ampere charger and a trusty phone charger make sure the hits keep coming. Make sure to buy a good quality set; I personally use MiLi chargers with multiple sockets so I can charge multiple devices. I’ve personally witnessed a mobile phone heat up badly from a cheap charger, aside from damaging the phone, it left a burn mark on the center console.
Handling your mobile device while driving isn’t just illegal, it’s also dangerous. Sometimes it’s not about making calls or texts; some people hold their phones up to check a travel app like Waze or Google Maps. To keep this operation hands free, I prefer to use a magnetic dashboard mount, like the Scoche magnetic MagicMount. It makes docking my mobile phone easy, and allows me to see where I’m going easily and safely.
Those who can afford expensive luxury cars have fully electric adjustable lumbar supports and what not, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t have comfortable seating. Memory foam seat pads used to be extremely expensive, but there are more and more products out there that are quite affordable. I was gifted with a Tempur memory foam seat cushion and I love it. I’ve had some major back injuries before, and it’s a huge relief to have something to prevent discomfort during a long drive.
Having to endure city traffic doesn’t have to be a pain. There are a lot of ways we can make the experience of traveling from home to work and back much more comfortable and enjoyable. I’ve seen a huge change in my own mood when I have these little comforts — inconsiderate drivers, horrible potholes and long waits don’t affect me much anymore, and the best part is that I can bring my good vibes home with me when I see my family safe and sound.