Amending my 'travel time window'
June 12, 2018 9:26 AM   Subscribe

The amount of time I give myself for making journeys is generally way out of tune with what I actually need- I'm chronically early to everything. Google Maps helps to some degree but I still overestimate the window I need. How can I get more comfortable with a smaller 'window'? Is there a ratio of Google estimate to spare time I can adopt?

Relevant factor- I'm a public transport user but it is generally very reliable here (or, when something goes bad, it tends to go bad across the entire city- which doesn't cause me anxiety at all, what with being out of my control).
posted by threetwentytwo to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
I also tend to overestimate the amount of time I need to get places and also tend to be chronically early, but I see this more as a feature than a bug.

-I have free time before the thing to sit somewhere quietly by myself and read, an activity which I enjoy
-I never feel rushed
-no one ever has to wait on me
-I can hold the best seats/table for my friends before they all fill up

I suspect google travel estimates vary by location, but for Chicago's traffic I've found that taking their estimated travel time x1.5 is pretty close to accurate. I still tend to leave earlier than that for most things, though, because I prefer having time to myself before the thing.
posted by phunniemee at 9:35 AM on June 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Do the analytical planning on paper carefully ahead of time. What's the actual rate of bus on leg 1 when you need to leave, actual worst case transfer time, actual of the second leg. Use bus schedules in addition to google and take notes on regular routes. Then trust your calculations. But also get a kindle.
posted by sammyo at 9:45 AM on June 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I solved this problem by bringing a book with me wherever I go. The anxiety of being late is too much for me, I’d much rather be early.

Ergo, book: so I’m early but not bored or unproductive.
posted by lydhre at 9:47 AM on June 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

If anxiety over being late is a big culprit, you may want to condition yourself a bit to times when it's perfectly acceptable to be a little late by doing so. It'll feel weird and panic-inducing to begin with, but in many social situations where I used to be super-early, I taught myself to learn that 5 or 10 minutes after things begin (like a meal, not like a theater show time) is fine for almost everybody, and I could learn who wasn't okay with it and we could be super-early together.
posted by xingcat at 9:53 AM on June 12, 2018 [7 favorites]

Similar to lydhre, but instead I have my ebook collection on my tablet and phone with bookmarks synced between devices. So getting somewhere X minutes early means I earned myself some time to read; that's a win!

Perhaps you could clarify how much of a difference your window is. Especially if you're using public transit we might be talking different scales. I.E. I'm talking about 10-20 minutes depending upon distance traveled; are you talking about 1+ hours early?
posted by nobeagle at 10:06 AM on June 12, 2018

I like the Transit app on android, which integrates with most cities' transit systems. The interface shows you options visually in a way that's more helpful to me than GMaps. I find if I know where the stop is, I can walk there faster than predicted, if not, it can take much longer with extra street-crossing.

When possible, I'll have an errand I can run near whatever I'm going to, so I can take care of that if I get there early (or do it after if the transit math makes sense then). Having a book on your phone is good, too.
posted by momus_window at 10:22 AM on June 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

For a few days, I timed how long it took to get between each stop on my commute. Based on this, I timed (from door to door, so walking time is included) how long it takes to get to a few different points that are on the way to places I usually go. Now I know that this one subway stop is 30 minutes from my front door, and it's 20 minutes from the entrance of my workplace, and it's 30 minutes from the entrance of Penn Station. Then I can kind of extrapolate out the time I need when I want to go other places.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:30 AM on June 12, 2018

I'm talking about 10-20 minutes depending upon distance traveled; are you talking about 1+ hours early?

Somewhere around 3/4 of an hour. Long enough for me to feel conspicuous!
posted by threetwentytwo at 10:38 AM on June 12, 2018

I dislike relying on transport outside my control to get to things with a firm start time (flights, theatre etc) so I tend to walk lots meaning the duration is more predictable and also enjoyable. Also, I'll arrive early, like allow contingency time but then make plans for something flexible to do first or on the way such as an art gallery, ice cream, street food or beer and reading etc. Definitely a feature in my eyes - less stress about being late and fun bonus stuff beforehand
posted by JonB at 1:16 PM on June 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Do the analytical planning on paper carefully ahead of time. What's the actual rate of bus on leg 1 when you need to leave, actual worst case transfer time, actual of the second leg.

This. Google Maps allows you to get transit directions arriving at a particular time. If I used these times I would arrive late. Instead I have some rules of thumb that I use to add padding. For example, I take one subway earlier than the subway the schedule says I need to arrive on time, or two buses.

Especially if you are traveling by public transit it is impossible to always arrive on time without ever being early. The longer or more complex your transit trip is, the more early you will have to be.
posted by grouse at 5:34 PM on June 12, 2018

Yeah, what xingcat says. Can you book yourself some activities that have soft start times or no start times (gallery openings, street festival), and allow yourself to arrive only on time? i.e. you take the Google Maps suggestion literally -- set it to 'arrive by' and then leave when it tells you to, not a bit earlier? No padding. You arrive on time, maybe a little late, the world doesn't end, and you have an experience to build on.

Like, a lot of us are describing coping strategies due to our unreliable American public transport systems, but if you say that your system runs on schedule, then I'm not sure what the problem is.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:58 PM on June 12, 2018

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