Weekly commuting: is it sustainable long-term?

I happen to know a thing or two about commuting. I’ve done it before today. At its worst, my commuting time each week totalled 20 hours. That’s right. 4 hours per day. That’s a significant chunk of time spent in transit! And I wasn’t even travelling between countries! Now I’m back at it again, but this time around it’s only around 8 hours per week, 4 on Monday and 4 on Friday. And this time around it involves a border crossing.

Commuting can consume a lot of hours. And those who don’t do it often can’t understand. So the question must be asked… what on earth motivates someone to commute? The simple answer is lifestyle. Getting out of the city where you work either every day or just on the weekends can be like a breath of fresh air. It’s making a choice to establish home, the place where you want to feel most comfortable in a setting that makes you feel at ease. It’s looking at the travel time as an investment in putting a healthy distance between the place where you work and that special place you call home.

People often say to me, “Oh, it must get so boring!”. But the travel time itself has never really bothered me, even when it was approaching a full day per week. I sleep. I read. I talk to the poor unsuspecting soul next to me. I actually enjoy having a bit of peaceful time to myself, which I don’t often give myself in other contexts.

But the biggest downside of commuting is that it can get tiring. Very tiring. Even though you’re technically “doing nothing” whilst travelling, somehow the act of being in transit in itself is fatiguing. And if you’re doing a week-at-a-time commute, being away from home 5 days out of 7 adds an extra dimension. Trying to maintain 2 social calendars, remembering in which city you have food in the fridge and which you don’t, effectively living a two separate lives, isn’t always easy. Neither is being away from your partner/family for the majority of the week.

So my verdict at the 2 month mark of the Paris/London weekly commute? Spending time there each week is allowing me to appreciate both cities more… simply having the contrast between the two in my every day reminds me of the different things I love about each. And it is pretty cool to be able to whip out the old “Oh, I live in Paris” to colleagues in London. People never fail to be impressed. And why wouldn’t they be?

Passing my weeks with this…

Tower Bridge

Hyde Park

View from London Eye

London Eye

And my weekends with this…

Versailles

Seine

Tour Eiffel

Sacre Coeur

Well, I can’t really complain!

But is it something I want to do long-term? Now, that’s an entirely different question. As glamourous as it all sounds, living between countries is getting tiring, and I’m starting to think that maybe picking just one city in which to live and work and spending regular weekends in the other is a better option. I know my younger, more energetic, more single self would be appalled by these words, but the thirty-something who is more cognisant of her limits and who misses her little nest whilst she’s away during the week is quite comfortable with them. Short-term an inter-city commute can be great fun and enhance your appreciation of your chosen cities, but longer-term the novelty can wear off and you probably end up taking both places for granted.

But for now I’m making the most of it… and off to the market. Fresh baguette with cheese, anyone?

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2 thoughts on “Weekly commuting: is it sustainable long-term?

  1. The concept of distance is a funny one. For example I’m out in the woods here in my home in Nuuk, but I’m only fifteen minutes away from the centre by bus. And really, there’s not THAT much in the centre also! But then, I wanted to get to another city, there are no trains and buses … Or roads. So I’m still getting my head around it.

    Generally, I find Europeans (maybe not Londoners) Will bulk at the thought of travelling an hour, sonetimes even half an hour, to get anywhere….

  2. Pingback: Welcome home! | Laugh Lots, Travel Often

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