Making the most of travel time

Long gone are the days when I resented time spent travelling. In today’s fast-paced society, I actually now relish this time as an opportunity to sit back, take stock and catch up on life admin or work.

Far from wasted hours, with some preparation, your travel time can be some of the most productive time you have. Here are five great ways to spend your hours on a train, bus, boat or plane. Thank me later!

Cleaning and categorising collections

What: more specifically, your electronic device’s photos, music, emails, notes and so on.

The task: these days we’re so busy snapping everything in sight, downloading music and books and throwing our email around like confetti that we end up with a bunch of unsorted collections. But how often do you make time to go through and delete what you don’t need? Sure you might be a great photographer, but do you really need five photos of the only good coffee you had in Paris? And wouldn’t your life be so much easier if your songs were sorted into playlists? Imagine how zen you’ll feel after you delete and file your emails. Travel time is the perfect opportunity to go back through and manage your collections on your phone, tablet, laptop or camera. Who knows what you might discover!

Preparation: make sure you have offline access to whatever you want to sort and that your battery is fully charged.

Editing and preparing photos

What: make the most of all those award-winning holiday snaps.

The task: you know the drill, you spend ages planning your holiday, get there and spend time capturing the perfect photos only to return home to a hectic schedule and leave them sitting on your phone or camera. Well, no one will see or appreciate them there. What better use of travel time than to download them from your camera or device? Next go through, select your best ones and edit them for upload or printing. A great task to do while the trip is still front of mind – it’s far more satisfying to share holiday memories soon after the trip as opposed to months later.

Preparation: you’ll need to have access to the device your photos are on, any cords required, photo editing apps and of course battery.

Catching up with loved ones

What: when was the last time you spoke to cousin Mary?

The task: ok, so maybe you speak to cousin Mary on a weekly basis, but what about your one remaining friend from school? Or your girlfriend who’s currently living in Europe? While day-to-day life may not allow for keeping in contact with everyone we would like to – travel time does! Have a think about who you’d like to reach out to and how you’d prefer to do it. Then spend your journey time writing to them in your chosen method away from the distractions of daily life. You may not be able to send it until you arrive but at least you’ll have done the hard yards of what you want to say.

Preparation: any writing materials, a list of chosen contacts, any messages you are yet to respond to – this will help to answer questions they may have asked or prompt anything you may want to say.


What: the pile of books stacked next to your bed.

The task: you know all those books/magazines/newspapers you’ve been wanting to read? You should read them. And, with patchy wifi at best, what better time to do so?

Preparation: it helps if you remember to take said books/articles. If space or weight is an issue try tearing out relevant pages – not of books – please photocopy these instead. Or download the electronic or audio version to save you carrying them at all.


What: get ahead at work or in your personal life by setting goals or getting through ‘to dos’.

The task: with not enough hours in the day and the existential crisis that often accompanies travelling, what better time to get it all on paper? Whether you’re stressed about work, finances, home or just want to spend some time planning for the future, a problem penned to paper is a problem halved. Away from distractions, travel time is ideal for catching up on work or personal projects. My favourite way to spend it is to take stock of where I’m at, where I want to be or go, and how I can get there. Hopefully, you’ll arrive with a clearer set of goals, or to dos and the added bonus of peace of mind.

Preparation: any materials for your work or personal project, paper and pen. Noise cancelling headphones will probably come in handy too!

And, if all else fails, we rarely get enough sleep so make the most of this opportunity to catch some shut-eye. Not only will your body thank you but you’ll arrive refreshed and in a better mood than when you left.

How do you like to spend your travel time? Tell us in the comments below? Are you a sleeper, reader or worker?

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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