Continuing on the theme of commuting from the previous post, we now discusses the experiences of four more respondents. Nazeea and Laura show how London – for all its train, tube and bus connections – can still be a difficult place to get around.
Name and Job Title: Nazeea Elahi, Collections Assistant at Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture.
Commute start-point: Wood Street, Walthamstow, London.
Commute end-point: Colindale, London.
Average total daily journey time: 2 hours 40 minutes.
Method of travel: London Overground train and 2 Tubelines
What do you have most about travel? At the end of the day when you’re tired and just want to get home without negotiating three trains and delays and it sometimes taking almost two hours to get home. Also I hate that I have to leave for work earlier than I need to, just to allow myself extra time in case of any train delays. So it often means I’m at work much earlier than I need to be but there have definitely been times when I have been glad that I allow myself this extra time or I would have been really late for work. On the plus side, me being in work around 35 minutes before I need to be means that I will always leave 5pm on the dot.
What do you like most about travel? Catching up on my reading, the Museums Journal or going back to sleep! I’m lucky that I catch the Tube at the beginning of the line and where I change trains it’s to travel back out to another suburb, so I always get a seat. Also it’s great having a monthly travel pass for work, I can use it on weekends for seeing friends or going to museums without worrying about having to pay for my extra Tube journeys.
Survival tips: If you have the energy, use the commuting time to catch up on your reading. Otherwise catch up on sleep (although I have once missed my stop due to being asleep!)
Anything else you want to say? The only other thing I want to add, it’s awful having a long commute across London when you’re ill. I once left work early, I was throwing up. I felt so ill and just wanted to be at home but had to undergo a two-hour commute to get home first.
Name and Job Title: Laura Humphreys, Curatorial Project Manager, Science Museum
Commute start-point: Hayes & Harlington (London Zone 5)
Commute end-point: South Ken or Hammersmith (London Zone 1)
Average daily journey time: 90 – 100 mins
Method of Travel: Bus, Train, Tube
What do you hate most about travel? Overcrowding!
What do you like most about travel? Time to listen to podcasts
Survival tips: Don’t do too much – on a previous commute (Hayes – Greenwich) I spent 4hrs within London on trains, tubes, buses, and the DLR. My job was research-based, so I found reading, language tapes, working all too much – I would be mentally exhausted by the time I got in at 7pm. I just had to zone it out in the end – I wrote those 4hrs of chopping and changing trains off (one single train would have been much easier).
Anything else you want to say: Going down to a commute under 2hrs a day has been life-changing – but I stuck the other, slightly life-ruining commute out because it was a good job at a national museum. If the job had been rubbish, I would never have kept doing it. I don’t regret it, but I will almost certainly never do it again.
In contrast to our London commuters, who spend a lot of time covering relatively short distances, Sarah and Nikol now discuss there very long journeys across Northern England and Scotland.
Name and Job Title: Sarah Cameron, Public Programmes Assistant, National Railway Museum (for two months in 2016)
Commute start-point: Varied, Cumbria or Newcastle mostly
Commute end-point: York
Average total daily journey time: Anything from 30min walk (when staying in York), 1hr train (when staying in Newcastle) or 4-5 hour train (when commuting from Cumbria).
What do you hate most about travel? That my travel expenses didn’t cover my wage and I had to borrow money in order to work there. I had to plan where I was and exact travel times in advance from 21st March- 8th May.
What do you like most about travel? The fact that I was travelling to a paid role in a museum which had previously been hard to find.
Survival tips: Patience, fully charged phone, music and a lot of books to pass the countless hours on trains.
Anything else you want to say? I love the NRM and had done a placement there during my masters so it was environment I enjoyed being in. It may seem like a silly thing to do for a temporary role but at the time I had been graduated from my masters for 7 months and couldn’t find a job. A paid role in a museum that lasted less than 2 months was the best option. You have to go through a lot to get your foot in the door in museums.
Sarah is now Schools Coordinator at Millom Museum in Cumbria, and she adds this about her current situation:
I currently commute 45 minutes in the car to my current position unless I get stuck behind a tractor then it can take a lot longer, or if it snows then the roads get blocked and I can’t get to work at all. The roads are really bad through the countryside with pot holes that can (and have for me) cause flat tires. However, being in the car is a lot nicer than stuck on a busy train. I am now working in a part-time role that is an 18months contract due to funding. So hopefully one day I will get a full-time role with a nice commute- the dreams we have as early museum professionals.
Name and Institution: Nikol Holicka, in student of Tourism, Heritage and Sustainability at University of Glasgow, Dumfries Campus (in 2016)
Commute start-point: Manchester
Commute end-point: Dumfries, Scotland;
Average total daily journey time: 7 hours (Once a week for four semesters, so not every day. In total I probably did 40 of those journeys in two years to complete my degree).
Method of travel: Train.
What do you hate about travel? Loud people in quiet coaches, people putting shoes on the opposite seats, people leaving rubbish on trains, waking up early.
What do you like about commuting? Having time for yourself, ability to be a productive.
Survival tips: Ebook reader/Kindle (takes no space in your bag and can contain all your desired books), travel friendly laptop (I did a lot of work for uni on trains, so I invested in a sturdy and light laptop, leakproof tea flask, mobile apps – I love Podcast Addict and the Ocado app (you can do your weekly shop on the train, which saves money and time) Also, I would eat my breakfast and do my makeup on the trains, which saved loads of time in the morning. (The trains I was on were generally quite empty, so I did not annoy people around me doing that. I am aware that this might not be an option for people commuting to London at 7am on crowded trains) Generally, I think commute is what you make out of it. If you decide that commuting is an annoying and tiresome waste of time, then that is what you get. For me, commuting was an opportunity to do work which I would have to do anyway at home.
Since graduating, Nikol now works for the National Trust much nearer to her home, and she adds:
I am commuting to work now as well, and I always try to make the best use of the time or relax on my way home while listening to a podcast. I think many people see a commute as time they have to sacrifice to do their job. It is true to some extent, since we cannot teleport ourselves to work just yet. However, there are ways to make it enjoyable and productive.
Got your own story about commuting which you want to share? Get in touch with me @TMPHopkins1.