You're sitting in your car, in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Your fists are clenched tightly around the steering wheel, veins bulging and a look of frustration seemingly fixed on your face. Sound familiar? Well, if so, you're not alone and help isn't far off either! In Part 1 of Commuting tips at 60 miles per hour, I provided some suggestions for making the most of a commute for those of us who have the luxury of someone else driving. "Sheesh...that'd be nice, but there's no such luxury for me," you might be saying. Alas, I haven't forgotten about you, most weary of commuting travelers: the driver. Now, don't get me wrong, the primary focus should definitely remain on the asphalt in front of you. (So, no please don't multi-task your morning primping routine, daily reading or even more odd habits while behind the wheel. And in all seriousness, NO texting! Let's use our heads here, folks!) However, no one said that commuting had to be selfless toil for the driver, especially with the strains of traffic, the elements and less-than-ideal passengers - whether crying children or equally trying carpoolers. So, in that spirit, I bring you the top three ways to make the drudgery of driving just a bit easier to cope with. Consider these the steps needed to turn your car from a steel prison to a rolling Shangri-La.
Breathe easy What smells come to mind when you're driving? Exhaust fumes? That pungent tar smell from road construction perhaps? Maybe even that worst-of-all offender: the distant stench of skunk that you can never seem to shut out (even when you try with that doggone "recirculate" button)? Well, it's time we changed that. There's now a cottage industry around freshening-up the interior smell of your car. We've come a long way from simple pine tree cut-outs from your local car wash. Whether it's a gentle odor of sandalwood, lilacs or even a perma-"new-car-smell" there's now a complete suite of smells to choose from and several different ways to implement them. This may seem like a luxury, but if you spend more than an hour a day in your car, a gentle regimen of aromatherapy can go a long way to calming the nerves and passing the time a bit more pleasantly. That sense of smell is an important one not to forget...and no, that fast food bag in the backseat that's still emitting a deep-fried odor doesn't cut it. Take my word and treat yourself in this department.
Mix it up If you're anything like me, your belief in the DJ-ing abilities of most local and even national radio personalities has hit an all-time low. With major corporate conglomerates buying-up the airwaves, chances are that those songs they have a vested interest in playing will be coming on every third song. So, it's time to take the matter into your own hands. If you've been won-over by satellite radio, you can't be blamed. The desire for commercial-free music, sports or talk is pretty appealing in this day and age. However, if the subscription fees for satellite seem a bit steep, there are other alternatives that help you take the power back and refine your own DJ-ing skills. Ok, so you may not be running the turntables behind the wheel, but apps that learn your musical tastes or let you create playlists, like Pandora and Spotify, mp3 car adapters to get your phone apps playing through your speakers and even car-aoke (yep, you read correctly) really let you dictate your tunes, playlists, genres and ultimately mood - whether it's House Techno, some Jay-Z or simply Vivaldi's Four Seasons!
The sense of touch Now, this one may seem a bit self-indulgent, but at the risk of being repetitive: remember, you're spending hours in the car by the end of the work week, so treat yourself! It's been long-believed that touch and massage therapy can provide real physical and emotional benefits. While it's pretty impractical to have a massage therapist on-call in your backseat ready to go at a moment's notice, it is something you can factor into your commute. Whether you're looking for heat and massage features, a cooling system for your derriere during the summer months, or simply the classic wood beaded seat cushion, there are a plethora of ways to pamper your back and spine no matter how big the potholes are along your commute. While many cars come with the seat-heater feature included or as an option, some cars even have the air-conditioned function, too. Regardless of how extravagant your interior options, though, thanks to some add-ons like these, as long as you have a seat, a motor and wheels, you can ride in comfort.
These are just a few ideas to make the driver's commute more enjoyable. What's your preferred way to make your drive more fun?