Commuting Tips to Save Money (and Yourself!)

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By Crispin Bateman
Updated on Friday 2 September 2022

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Commuting to work – it’s one of the great joys of life, right?

What is commuting?

The dictionary says that commuting is to ‘travel some distance between one's home and place of work on a regular basis.’ We agree with that, but what about the school run, or the after-school swimming club / karate lesson / scouts meeting? Do they count?

Even if they don’t, the tips here to make your commute just that little bit better count for those too!

Yes, commuting drives us all mad! It’s expensive, time consuming and frustrating. How can we all save money (and some of our personal mental health) with the daily commute?

#1 – Don’t commute

Flying right into the top spot is the simplest tip of all – don’t do it!


Try living closer to work.

It sounds extreme, but it shouldn’t. There’s a chance that at some point in your life you moved to be closer to wherever you worked, so why not do it again?

When it comes to how to save money when travelling for work, living across the road seems like a great start! The higher cost of property in the city centre (or wherever your work is) might even be mitigated by the drop in commuting costs.

In the long run, you could make money off your ex-commute by your investment in property instead.

Enjoy that home-office feeling

Bring your work home. Internet connectivity, shiny laptop, impressive smartphone – the world has never been better set up for you to ditch the 9 to 5 office and work in your pyjamas in the spare room.

Even if you can’t do it all the time, spending just one day at home will cut the cost of commuting by 20%.

Working from home isn’t for everyone. No one wants the train driver to work from home, or the construction worker, your surgeon, or anyone front of house in the retail or catering industries.

But it if is for you, that’s great! Take advantage of it!

Find something better

Quit your job! It’s not the best way to save money overall, but it could be the perfect change that you need.

Go self-employed, working from home on that business you’ve always dreamed of. Or find a job closer to home.

In the interest of helping you with your personal finance as we like to do here at Compare UK Quotes, please don’t quit your job before you’ve lined up a suitable replacement closer to home!

#2 – Get someone else to drive you

Part of the extra mental weight is that by driving you are adding hours onto your working day – and if you don’t think driving is work, ask a taxi driver, a courier or a long-distance lorry driver for their opinion.

Driving is work. It requires constant mental awareness and application of skill, just like many other jobs. Only, commuting to work by car doesn’t pay at all (in fact, it costs you money!).

Do you think the children in the back of the car on their iPads are tired and stressed? Of course not! That should be you – relaxed and happy until delivered at work, and here’s how:

Public transport

Yes, a bus is having someone do the driving for you! You can sit back and listen to music or a favourite podcast instead of shouting vague threats at that guy for cutting you up just in front of a roundabout.

Public transport has many advantages:

  • More relaxing on a long journey – there’s the walk to the bus or train, the wait and the walk at the other side which are arguably less relaxing than sitting in your air-conditioned car, but if the bit in the middle is long enough, the overall effect is positive. You can’t exactly read a book while doing 70mph on the M4!

  • Cheaper – work out the true cost of the wear and tear on your car, the cost of insurance, depreciation, how much you paid in the first place and, oh yes – fuel! How much money can you save by using public transport? With the real cost of running a car around £200 to £500 a month for most people, average bus or train fares will leave you saving plenty of money every day!

  • Environmentally friendly – the train may belt out far more emissions than your car, but it makes a lot less than the emissions of one car for every passenger (or even one car for each pair of passengers).

  • Faster – at 8:30 in the morning, neither the train track nor the bus lane is filled with impatient and stressed commuters.

  • Provides you with more time – if your commute length justifies getting out your laptop or tablet (or even favourite book), you can use that time productively. And even sleep is productive!

Car pooling

Sharing your commute might mean you’re the main driver and thus not provide quite the mental break you were after, but it’s a great financial bonus.

When it comes to ways to cut travel costs for work, halving them by sharing with a colleague is a perfect solution. Plus, it gives you someone to chat to.

Rearrange to share with family

If your partner tends to go out 30 minutes after you and follow a similar route, why not see if you can rearrange your time or theirs to mean you can go together.

Reorganising your trips so that one of you drops the other off also means more time together as well as saving on your commute costs, and who doesn’t want that?

Self-driving cars

Don’t laugh!

Self-driving cars are likely to be on our roads as soon as 2025, so it could mean a mere six more years of the evil commute before you can simply bundle yourself half-asleep into the car and get changed along the way.

Plus, of course, all the newly designed self-driving vehicles coming out are fully electric so not only will you not have to do the driving, but your fuel bill will be negligible too.

Now if only we could get robots with artificial intelligence to do our jobs we wouldn’t have to commute to work at all!

#3 – Plan your commute

The route

Often, we get stuck into a routine and drive the same way every day. Experts on creative thinking agree that doing something a different way each day can improve creativity throughout the day and cite changing your route to work as one option.

While we’re not saying you should get lost in the countryside every morning (far from it), if you’ve got an important creative something to do that day, it might make for an exciting start and inspired end result!

Looking at your best commuting options and finding ways to cut down on your commute is valuable, though.

Are you just driving that way because everyone does, or that’s the way you are used to doing it? Why not shake it up a little and see if you can’t discover a better route, or even a better time to leave?

The car

If you do drive every day, making sure your car is in good condition actually does save money.

It can be as simple as regularly checking tyre pressure and oil levels, but over time your efforts will add up.

Make sure you don’t have to fill up as part of the commute by going to a petrol station when there’s less of a queue and fewer cars on the road.

The timetable

When looking to save money on a train commute, booking in advance and picking the right time for the train can save hundreds of pounds a year.

Similarly, bus season tickets cut the cost of bus commutes considerably.

Eat breakfast and pack lunch

So much time and money are wasted stopping on your way into work to grab food and drink.

Whether that’s a petrol station stopover or a full-blown Starbucks, it’s both money and time that can be done away with through a little planning – ask yourself how much your commute costs in little extras.

Take the time in the morning to eat breakfast and have a coffee before you leave and pack a lunch to avoid getting back in the car in your midday break.

Pre-plan parking

One of the hidden costs of commuting is car parking – even those looking to save money on transport by taking the train get stung when parking in official station car parks.

Through services like Just Park you can save money on your commute by shaving it off your parking costs.

Read our article on how to save on travel costs in the UK for more useful planning tips and savings!

#4 – Commute, but not when everyone else is

One of the best ways to commute is to do it when no one else is.

Whether that’s five a.m. or just after the traffic at ten in the morning, flexing your hours around is a great way to halve an hour’s drive.

Changing your hours requires some manager-level co-operation, but you’ll benefit hugely if you can do it.

Some final commuting thoughts!

You are not alone in your hatred of the rush hour. The average commute to work in the UK is now at 48 minutes – and that’s the average, so when you take into account the people sensible enough to just need to cross the road to get to work, some others are really pushing the limits!

But how long is too long to commute to work in the UK? One in seven people take two hours to get into work, and that’s each way!

Four hours a day sat in traffic can drive anyone a little mad, even if they do have a near-infinite library of audiobooks available to them.

The answer is really anything that makes you feel uncomfortable and that your pay and enjoyment of work doesn’t justify the time spent getting to the point where you start your working day.

People ask, ‘how do you reduce commuting costs?’ but it’s not just about business travel savings, it’s about quality of life.

It is possible to change your commute as these tips have shown – so why not start today?

Improving your finances with Compare UK Quotes

It’s not just about cutting down on money wasted during your commute or finding other cheap ways to travel in the UK, Compare UK Quotes can help you reduce your car insurance costs.

Why not get a quote and see how much you could save? 

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