By Victoria Mueller, Tax Senior
Houston is known for many great things – our World Champion Houston Astros, NASA Space Center, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, museums, theater, Tex-Mex, parks, Beyoncé, Mattress Mack, and ZZ Top, just to name a few. Houston is also well known for its traffic. With the average commute time being close to 30 minutes and a population of 2.3 million people, one can easily see how traffic can build up quickly and get frustrating.
Radio Stations - Houston has some great radio personalities to get your day started. Whether you’re looking for music, news, games, funny stories, trivia, or advice, Houston has you covered.
Podcasts – Using your phone’s Podcast app, you can use your home’s Wi-Fi to pre-download a podcast and listen to it on your drive without using your data allowance. Some of the best podcasts include financial advice, news, discussions on your favorite TV shows, tech updates, and even stories about unsolved mysteries.
Pandora/Spotify/Apple Music, etc. – Radio stations typically stick to a specific genre of music and can sometimes leave you feeling a little stifled. So, many people are switching to streaming stations that can vary the selection a little more. With Pandora, for example, you can pick your favorite artists or genres and create custom music stations that will play music from pop, stand-up comedy, rock/alternative, country, rap, and everything in between for a nice mix.
Audiobook – My personal favorite, audiobooks, are great for long commutes. You download directly to your phone and play the book via Bluetooth in your car. If you’re reading your e-book, it’ll automatically sync your place between e-book and audiobook each time you switch back and forth, making it simple to continue your story wherever you go.
Okay, all that sounds great, but I really don’t want to spend so much time in traffic, even if I can listen to something entertaining.
What are some ways I can cut down my commute and spend less time on the road?
Live closer – We have several people in our office that live close enough to have a commute that is less than 10 minutes; some are even close enough to walk. This is an ideal option, but may not fit into everyone’s budgets.
Bus/public transit – Looking to avoid driving in Houston? Depending on your location, there are some great park-and-ride options to take you from the suburbs into the loop. Check out the Metro system, Greenlink buses, Fort Bend Transit, or the Woodlands Express to start.
HOV Lane – If you have a co-worker that lives near you, definitely look into carpooling and using the HOV lanes to your advantage. HOV lanes are allowed for cars with at least two people, and can be a great way to skip the traffic clogging up the main highways.
Changing your work hours – This option isn’t available to everyone, but I love having it. Living in the suburbs, I’ve decided to work 7am-4pm to try to avoid traffic. I leave my house at 6am and arrive at the office around 6:30. Once there, I eat breakfast in the office and begin working at 7:00. On days that I choose to take a 30-minute lunch instead of an hour, I leave the office at 3:30pm to avoid as much traffic as possible. I love arriving home while there’s still daylight and can still get a lot done around the house. If I were to delay and leave my house at 7:00, for example, it would take me almost an hour to get to the office. By simply leaving a little earlier, I’m able to avoid spending double the time on the roads and get my day started sooner.
Working from home – A favorite in our office, I find working from home at least once per week is a great way to avoid traffic and get more done. Work can be done more efficiently and with fewer distractions, and I can still call my manager if I run into any issues or have questions.
Although Houston traffic isn’t the greatest thing to have to deal with regularly, hopefully these options will make it seem less monotonous. Safe travels!