I am now half way through my third year of doing a long commute (Coventry to Manchester) which takes two hours each way. I can tell by the expressions on people’s faces when I tell them about my journey to work that this sort of commute is not for everyone. But I have no problems with it, and even enjoy it! So, how do I do it?!
I won’t lie and say that traveling 4 hours on the train in one day is always a pleasure. You have to be flexible, adaptable and patient. Having said that, in over two years, I have never once missed a lecture. I was ten minutes late once, but that was when there was four inches of snow on the ground!
I survive commuting in two ways. First, I don’t have to do it every day. We’re talking about no more than three times a week. I am lucky to be able to work from home the rest of the week. Second, on days when I am traveling to Manchester, I treat the journey as part of the working day. As soon as I sit down (yes, I get a seat every time on my train!) I get my reading or marking out and before I know it, the journey has flown past. I’m reading more now than at any time since my PhD!
And wireless technology means that you can work on emails on your hand-held or laptop: you can clear your in-box before even arriving at work!
Train travel has an advantage over the car because you can work on the way and (usually) it’s more relaxing. I don’t arrive at work panicked or stressed. I have had time to think abut the working day and make plans. It also has the advantage of being kinder to the environment of course. Cost is one major disadvantage on the train, but even here there are ways of making savings. For example, buying two tickets for one journey can be cheaper than buying one ticket all the way through to your destination.
The realities of academic life mean that you might be applying for job a long way from home, and you don’t necessarily want to move. So, do consider commuting, it’s one option that may not be as bad as you think!