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Photograph: Shutterstock/Allen G.

14 things New Yorkers need for their daily commute

You never know what will go wrong with the subway next, so stock up on these essentials for your commute

By Annalise Mantz

New York City might seem glam to outsiders, what with all the beautiful NYC buildings and iconic attractions, but that illusion dissipates the second you ride the subway. When you’re stuck between stations in a subway car with no air conditioning, it doesn’t feel like the the concrete jungle where dreams are made of—just like your own personal hell. Welcome to the Big Apple, folks. Make your daily commute just a tiny bit more bearable by stocking up on these subway essentials. Combine these supplies with our best NYC subway hacks and you’ll be ready for whatever nonsense the MTA can throw at you.

Everything New Yorkers need for their daily commute

Exit Strategy App
Photograph: Courtesy iTunes

The game-changing app

Anyone can look up how to get from point A to B on the subway with Google Maps. Finding the best route, though, takes a little more street savvy (or subway savvy, as the case may be). To plan the absolute quickest commute, download Exit Strategy NYC, the app that tells you what train car, exit door and station entrance to use for the fastest trip.

Exit Strategy NYC, $3.99 on

Muji Soft Metro Card Case
Photograph: Courtesy Amazon

A simple Metro Card holder

Nobody wants to be that guy holding up the line for the turnstile because he can’t find his Metro Card. Keep it handy in this pliable plastic case so you don’t have to dig through your wallet.

Muji Soft Metro Card Case, $6.48 on

Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer
Photograph: Courtesy Amazon

All the hand sanitizer

Touching a subway handrail exposes you to the same number of bacteria as shaking hands with 10,000 people. Yep, you’re going to need some Purell.

Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer, $8.99 on

Sweaty Betty All Sport Backpack
Photograph: Courtesy Sweaty Betty

A stylish gym bag

Crowded trains and buses just don’t have enough room for everyone to bring a work bag and a duffel full of gym clothes. Instead, lug your junk around in this lightweight, sporty backpack that can take you from a workout to the office.

Sweaty Betty All Sport Backpack, $115 on

Clean Reserve Rain Rollerball
Photograph: Courtesy

Emergency aromatherapy

The subways, sidewalks and taxicabs of NYC can be surprisingly stinky, and most of the time, you don’t really want to think about what it is you’re smelling. Carry a petite perfume rollerball in your favorite scent and take a deep inhale when your olfactory senses get overwhelmed.

Clean Reserve Rain Rollerball, $25 on

Kindle E-Reader
Photograph: Courtesy Amazon

A compact e-reader

At this point, we’re no longer surprised by subway delays. If you’re going to be stuck on a platform or in between stations, you might as well entertain yourself. Invest in an e-reader so you can bring a library full of books wherever you go.

Kindle E-Reader, $79.99 on

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones
Photograph: Courtesy Amazon

Noise-cancelling headphones

Tune out the snoring guy in the corner, music streaming from your neighbor’s earbuds, the “IT’S SHOWTIME!” people and all the other sonic disruptions with these noise-cancelling headphones.

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones, $329 on

Standard Baggu
Photograph: Courtesy Baggu

Sturdy reusable bags

Just because New York City hasn’t banned plastic bags (yet) doesn’t mean that you need to contribute to the pollution problem. Shell out 10 bucks for one of these nearly indestructible bags that can hold up to 50 pounds. We like the funky hot dog pattern as an homage to the city’s street carts, but they also come in more subdued hues.

Standard Baggu, $10 on

Klean Kanteen Classic Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Photograph: Courtesy Amazon

A water bottle that won’t spill

This sturdy stainless steel bottle is magic: It won’t leak inside your bag, keeps beverages cold for 50 hours and doesn’t weigh a ton.

Klean Kanteen Classic Stainless Steel Water Bottle, $17.62 on

Bach Rescue Remedy Pastilles
Photograph: Courtesy Amazon

Calming candy

Between inconsiderate passengers, indecipherable announcements and insane delays, the New York subway system can be extremely frustrating on a daily basis. Remind yourself to remain calm by popping one of these orange-elderflower homeopathic lozenges.

Bach Rescue Remedy Pastilles, $10.46 on

Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger
Photograph: Courtesy Amazon

A portable phone charger

Unlike airplanes, subway trains don’t have power outlets. Keep your phone from dying by carrying one of these lightweight power banks in your bag.

Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger, $29.99 on

Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater
Photograph: Courtesy Amazon

Refreshing facial spray

Even on a mild spring day, the body heat of your fellow passengers can make it feel oppressively warm. Spritz on this hydrating mist for a moment of relief.

Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater, $7 on

VersionTech Mini Handheld Fan
Photograph: Courtesy Amazon

A tiny fan

When temperatures pass 85 degrees, New Yorkers will do anything and everything to cool off. That includes toting around this miniature handheld fan, which gives off a shockingly powerful breeze.

VersionTech Mini Handheld Fan, $14.99 on

Smith’s Rosebud Salve
Photograph: Courtesy Amazon

Hydrating lip balm

This hydrating salve comes in a thin circular tin, so it’s easy to fit in any size bag. Smear it on chapped lips, painful hangnails, dry skin and more—it’s surprisingly useful.

Smith’s Rosebud Salve, $7.11 on

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