Readers' tales of extreme commuting

long road ahead

For many people commuting is a modern-day necessary evil. But for some, a six-hour journey is time well spent.

A previous Magazine article reported that the definition of an extreme commuter was anyone whose return journey to work amounts to three hours and above.

Several readers got in touch to say they had regularly gone above and beyond this. Here are the most extreme examples.

Brussels to Paris

Distance: 188 miles (303km)

Durations: Six-hour round trip

Mode of transport: Car four times a week, train once a week

Malcolm Howe: "Until seven years ago my daily commute involved a round trip from Brussels to Paris. Four days a week I would go by car, which was three hours each way. The French motorway is a straight line.

Malcolm Howe

"To break up the monotony I took the TGV once a week. The speed limit on the motorway was 130km/h (81mph) and the TGV would speed past it and we'd all get seats. I'd do the train journey in one and a half hours but it cost 250 euros (£208) a day and I wasn't prepared to spend over 1,000 euros (£832) a week just on the trains.

"I do a lot of conference calls while I'm in the car. When you're driving you play mind games - competing with yourself to reach a village 10 minutes earlier than the day before. I work in IT for bank security and was being paid well enough to justify this. I was originally working from home but my boss insisted I work in the Paris office when I wasn't with clients. When the situation changed, I decided to do the journey out of obnoxiousness. I did this commute for a year and a half.

"I now live in the French Alps and work in Luxembourg. I cross four national borders on the way to work (France to Switzerland, Switzerland to Germany, Germany back to France and France to Luxembourg). It takes six hours."

Porthcawl, Wales to Watford near London

Distance: 181 miles (291km)

Duration: Six-hour round trip

Mode of transport: Car

Gary Egen

Gary Egan: "I live in Porthcawl, Wales, and travel a minimum of five days a week to Watford. My alarm goes off at 03:30 each day and my journey takes two-and-a-half to three hours. I aim to be in the office for 06:30. My day can last as much as 12 hours as I am the head of production for a large format graphic company. I then travel home when there is a lot more traffic than there is in the mornings, with average of three to three-and-a-half hours being the norm for this single journey.

"If the work allows then I try to get away mid-afternoon so I have some time with my partner when I get home, but this is quite often not the case.

"The journey is 181 miles (291km) in each direction - the diesel bill is £900 a month. My worst journey has been four hours. My route is fairly basic as I use the M4 and M25 and luckily I am only on the M25 for a short time.

"I have quite a stressful job so I use the journey home to sort my day out in my head and to make a plan for the following day. I have Radio 2 on in the background. I will take calls (hands-free of course). My car reads out text messages and I can send messages back again by talking via the Bluetooth connection.

"I would love to have a job nearer home. However, the opportunities aren't the same here in Wales, as my field is quite narrow.

"My partner works for South Wales Police and also has a stressful job, and although we have discussed the options for a move, we feel our quality of life is much better here than it would be closer to my workplace in Watford. I like to run and on a weekend - within five minutes of me leaving my front door, I am running alongside the beach and the sea. Everybody is so friendly here and it is a real community spirit where neighbours genuinely want to help, should there be a need.

"Both my partner and myself have lived in London and the surrounding areas and despite the travel, I know I am much better off here than I am closer to my place of work."

Ramsbottom, Lancashire to Aldgate, London

Distance: 218 miles (351km)

Duration: Six-hour round trip

Mode of transport: Car, train, tube

Stuart Williams: "I work as an IT project manager in the city by Aldgate and commute daily from home.

"My day starts at 04:45, before leaving home for a 25-mile drive to Stockport train station at 6am. From Euston I then get the tube to Aldgate arriving just before 09:00 - if everything is working as it should be. I then make the return journey at 18:00 from Euston, arriving home at 21:00. I've worked out that the travel is exactly the same as the cost of renting in London - so therefore a better option."

Port Hadlock to Seattle, US

Distance: 50 miles (80km)

Duration: Five-to-six-hour round trip

Mode of transport: Car, ferry and walking

Christopher Grant

Christopher Grant: "I have a two-and-a-half to three-hour commute each way. I live in a small country town called Port Hadlock in Washington state, with my wife and four children, and drive an hour to an hour-and-a-half (depending on traffic) to the ferry which takes me across the water to Seattle. Then it's a 30-40 minute walk along the water to the office. I changed shifts to work 06:00-15:00 which puts me home at dinner time. This way I see my family every day and can help get them to bed. The hardest part is trying to get any time in with my wife before getting to bed promptly at 19:00.

"I'm a network support engineer and the number of information technology jobs in my (very rural) home county are limited at best. I'm a deacon in the Orthodox Church and my home parish is here. Also, my parents and sister live out here and my children and wife all have friends out here. Add that to the soft home market, and it's a combination of family factors, church obligations, and finances that keeps me out here. Plus I really do like living here.

"The ferry is just over $100 (£66) a month (I park at the terminal and walk on), parking is another $185 (£112)and gas at 80 miles a day getting just over 24 miles to the gallon usually runs me about $200-250 (£121-£151) a month. Total is about $550 at current gas prices. That's about £350 at the current exchange rate, and does not take into consideration the cost of shoes, which is highly variable."

Boulogne, France to Maidstone, Kent

Distance: 87 miles (139km)

Duration: Up to three hours

Mode of transport: Three cars (including one car share) and the Eurotunnel

Guylaine Oldroyd: "I used to live in London but then separated from my husband and went back to France with my two children. I was missing England very much and as a teacher, decided to do a bit of work in the UK. At the time the day trip was cheap so I carried on commuting. Then I was appointed permanently in Maidstone. I would get up at 06:00 in Boulogne-sur-Mer. I dropped my car off at 07:15 in Coquelles. I had an arrangement with another woman I had seen regularly commute on Le Shuttle where I would hop in her car and we would go to Ashford through the Eurotunnel together. Then I hopped in my other car to do the last leg from Ashford to Maidstone where I usually arrived at 08:00. The time difference helped. Now when I look back I can't believe I have done that for 18 months!"

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