Woman waiting for light rail

Commuter Conundrum: Packing for a Long Day at Work


I need to get something off my back: I am not skilled at packing light for my day at work. Lately I feel like I’m hauling Cheryl Strayed’s “Monster” around with me. It’s getting heavy.

Everything but the kitchen sink

I leave for work around 6 AM and return around 5 PM. In an effort to save money, I bring my own coffee, breakfast, and lunch. On any given commute, I am carrying the following:

  • Drinks: cold-press coffee in a tumbler and a refillable water bottle
  • House key
  • Nice Ride key
  • IDs: Metropass & Car2Go, driver’s license (to prove I’m of legal drinking age), U of M ID, Gym proximity card
  • Currency & debit/credit cards
  • Electronics: phone and laptop
  • Food: breakfast, lunch, and snacks
  • Sunglasses
  • Workout clothes

My “Monster” situation involves:

  1. Purse: Ogio Broolyn
    Contents: Wallet with IDs; cash/cards; sunglasses; house key
  2. Laptop bag: Belkin Core backpack
    Contents: Laptop and power cord
  3. Reusable grocery bag: From local grocers and giveaways
    Contents: Food and drink (none of my bags have dedicated drink holders)
  4. Gym bag: A duffle I got for free
    Contents: Workout clothes

Even if I don’t take my laptop home with me, that’s 2-3 bags I’m carrying. There’s got to be a better way.

I need your help.

I’d like to consolidate and maximize efficiency for my daily commute. I bet others out there are in a similar situation. Or maybe you are a pro level commuter with tips. Let’s chat about it in the comments.

  • What do you do to lighten your load while having all you need for your day at work.
  • Do you have recommended purses/packs/bags?
  • Do you have a system in place for streamlining what you’re carrying on your person?
Janelle Nivens

About Janelle Nivens

Janelle is an urban explorer who likes to challenge herself to walk long distances (40 miles is her record). She lives in southwest Minneapolis with Scott and their adorable dog Stewie and works at the University of Minnesota. Janelle documents what catches her eye on long walks in hopes of inspiring others to discover hidden gems in their own communities. Walk with her on Instagram, Twitter (@Janellie23), and FitBit.