Monday, March 17, 2008

VRE (or any DC commuter) Travel Bag

Ok, so I realized that after years of commuting on VRE, that I have a pretty complete checklist that is required for commuting. Here is my survival bag for commuting to DC.

  • Backpack, with laptop storage - it's entirely too slow to wheel a computer bag down the sidewalks
  • Tote umbrella - I go with the tote because it folds up small enough to fit in a side pocket of the backpack and be out of the way. Not the biggest umbrella, but it has saved me a number of times when I left in the morning to a clear sky.
  • Ipod - or any other MP3 player to tune out
  • Noise cancelling headphones - a must when your neighbors are chatting away or the guy playing video games isn't using headphones (a great alternative is now high end earbuds that keep out exterior sounds and likewise keep your music in the ear)
  • Reading material - the smaller paperbacks work best for me because they fit in the backpack easiest, or a magazine or two.
  • Gloves (and skull cap or earmuffs) - Some just say layers, but for me it's ears and fingers that get cold. The temp in rail cars isn't the most fine tuned thing, so be prepared to survive a chilly ride
  • Good shoes - I wear my dress shoes, some people leave those at the office and wear sneakers.
  • Metro pass - you never know when you're going to have to transfer early from VRE to Metro if something bad happens on the tracks ahead, having a metro card with a few dollars on it really help speed up the transition if they haven't opened the metro option.
  • Speaking of passes, get a clip and carrier from one of the "meet the management" events. Something to clip your VRE pass to your shirt so you don't forget it (I also keep a metro card in there just in case)
  • Gum - a must for delays or when you have Garlic at lunch
  • Chapstick, Eyedrops, Allergy Meds, hand lotion - Ok, these snuck into my bag due to other airline travel, but I found that it's nice to have a fix for dry eyes/lips/hands. Get the smallest size you can find (hotel size lotion is perfect). I even keep these in the quart bag for easy airport security.
  • Cheap sunglasses - I say cheap because these stay folded in the backpack most of the time and inevitably will get scratched, bent, etc. I have a $7 pair from CVS. Also useful when you forget sunglasses on travel and you have to drive the rental.
  • Blackberry - how else do you get the emails on delays and write blog posts? Actually there are several ways (see VRE website for notifications), I just prefer the 'berry.

Everything goes in the backpack. Pick a backpack with multiple pockets as it is much easier to organize. This is now the same backpack I travel with, because I know where everything is located.

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