According to the U.S. Census, 4 million drivers travel 90 minutes or more each way to work. These individuals are now classified as “super commuters.”1

If you're one of them, how can you make the most of the many hours spent in your car? We talked to Amica's own super commuters, who shared their secrets for maximizing productivity and enjoyment during their long drives each day.

Stock up ahead of time

"Before I leave home, I make sure I have everything I need for the day," says Meghan Steines, an adjuster in Amica's Hartford Regional Office. Her daily checklist includes not just her work gear — such as a phone charger, laptop or portable printer — but also water and snacks.

Nate Matko, a supervising adjuster in Amica's Southeastern Massachusetts Office, takes it one step further: "My commute can vary from 10 minutes to eight hours, depending on where I'm going, so I always have a case of water in the trunk."

Taking a 

checklist 
approach to planning ahead applies not only to essential items but also to your schedule for the day. Before she departs, Stephanie Paradis, a senior adjuster in Amica's Southeastern Massachusetts Office, has her itinerary set so she can avoid congested neighborhoods at their worst times. "That can reduce the amount of road time you have, and let you be more productive when you're back at your desk," she says.

Best to-do list apps of 2018:1

  • Asana
  • Todoist
  • Any.do (for iPhone)
  • ActiveInbox
  • Gneo (for iPhone)
  • Remember the Milk
  • Toodledo
  • Workflowy
  • Google Keep (Web)

1The Best To-Do List Apps of 2018, PC Mag, 2018.

Fine-tune your tech

Find the 

technology 
that works best for you and your vehicle. For Matko, that means entering his destination into Waze, a navigation app that incorporates real-time feedback from users. He also has found just the right smartphone holder, one that mounts on top of his dashboard right next to the steering wheel, so he can easily keep his eyes on the road.

Best navigation apps:1

  • Google Maps
  • Apple Maps
  • Citymapper
  • Waze
  • MapQuest
  • Komoot
  • DriveMode

1The Best Navigation Apps for iOS and Android, Digital Trends, 2019.

"There's a big difference between having something right there that's easily accessible, versus just being tossed in your cup holder," he notes.

Keep entertained

Music 
makes all the difference on the long drive for Paradis. She has created a number of digital playlists through Apple Music, a streaming service, that she uses as her soundtrack. "I have a playlist ready to go for the day," Paradis says. She keeps extra chargers in her car so the tunes can keep rolling as long as her car is.

Best music streaming services:1

  • Amazon Music Unlimited & Prime Music
  • YouTube Music and Google Play Music
  • Pandora
  • Spotify
  • Tidal

1Best Music Streaming Services, Consumer Reports, 2019.

Podcasts 
, particularly with continuing storylines, can help pass the time, too. "I've gotten into different ones that have eight to 10 episodes," Matko says. "That way, you can binge-listen as you're driving."

Top-ranked podcasts:1

  1. The Daily (The New York Times)
  2. This American Life (This American Life)
  3. Stuff You Should Know (iHeartRadio)
  4. Up First (NPR)
  5. TED Radio Hour (NPR)
  6. Planet Money (NPR)
  7. Pardon My Take (Barstool Sports)
  8. Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! (NPR)
  9. Fresh Air (NPR)
  10. The Ben Shapiro Show (Daily Wire)

1Top Podcasts, PodTrac, 2018.

Connect with others

Commute time doesn't have to be wasted time, as long as you use technology that puts safety first. Justin Koutros, a senior adjuster in Amica's Hartford Regional Office, reaches out to clients and responds to voicemail with a hands-free device during his drive. When Matko embarks on a particularly long drive, he calls his extended relatives. "Those are the times I best connect with my family," he says. "I live several states away, and they appreciate [having time to talk] whenever I have a long commute ahead of me."

Take the scenic route

On your morning commute, you usually just want to get where you're going. But on the drive home, consider trading the highway for more scenic byways. "I look at different routes depending on the time of year," Matko says. "If it's fall, I sneak through a wooded area, if it doesn't add too much time, just to kind of mix up the travel."

Paradis agrees that the drive back from work may offer more flexibility. "Sometimes, I will get off a few exits earlier and take the back roads knowing I really don't have a destination other than home, so there's no real set time for me."

Appreciate the little things

Every now and then, making a small upgrade or change in environment can be all that's needed to improve your mood while commuting.

"Driving can be stressful, so try to focus on those things you can control," Steines recommends. "I just put a new air freshener in my car, and it makes my ride a bit more relaxing. Just having those little things helps overall."

Another sign of an experienced commuter? Knowing your dashboard symbols. Find out what each of them mean.