So, I’ve never actually owned a car. Sure, I borrowed my mum’s car when I lived at home, and at times I’ve babysat cars for friends of mine, but I’ve never had a car of my own. I didn’t always live in the most convenient locations either! So, my day-to-day existence is not reliant on having access to a set of wheels, but it’s really not as difficult as it sounds! I thought today I’d share some of my top tips for car free living, which clearly come from years of practice!
Hopefully these tips will be helpful even if you do have a car, and might allow you to leave the car at home a little more often. Obviously not everyone’s circumstances allow them to pay for things like a Safe Driver in Dubai or other expensive cities, but one might be surprised at how inexpensive a chaffeur can be in less busy areas. Of course, it will be challenging to go completely car free, but every time you leave the car at home you’re doing that little bit more to help our planet (plus you can often save money and reduce your stress levels at the same time!). So here we are, my car free living tips!
Write Down Your Car Usage
A great thing to do before you start trying to reduce your car usage is to write down every time you take the car out during the course of a week. Make note of where you go, how far it is, how often you go there, whether it was planned or spontaneous and, if you live with others, how many of you were in the car for that journey.
Getting all this down on paper (or electronically if that works best for you!) will help you really see what trips you are making, whether any of them could be combined and how many of them are just short distances. Knowing as much as you can about your driving habits will really help with making changes and starting your car free living journey (or at least a reduced car life!).
Get Things Delivered
Shopping trips are most definitely one of the most common reasons people use their cars, as often the shops are too far to walk, or you just can’t carry everything home with you afterwards. My local shops aren’t very far away, but I was definitely struggling carrying everything home, so I got myself an old-lady style trolley on wheels which has made my life so much easier. It fits a remarkable amount of stuff, is easy to manoeuvre and saves my poor arms and back from lugging lots of heavy bags home! It might not be pretty, but it works!
If walking still isn’t going to work for you then home delivery should! Pretty much anything can be ordered online and delivered to your door these days, and your general groceries are most definitely part of that. The major supermarkets all do home delivery, but you can also use smaller services like organic fruit & veggie boxes, many of which also have bread, milk and general non-perishable goods to choose from as well. I’ve used Greenline Organic before but there are options in most capital cities, including some of the bigger companies like Aussie Farmers Direct. New services are popping up all the time as well, and near me there’s now one called Your Grocer which allows you to choose products from a range of stores in your neighbourhood (butcher, bakery, fruit & vegetable shop, even your local coffee roaster!) and they will collect it all for you and deliver it to your front door. How impressive is that!
It’s not just food you can get delivered either, I get all my toilet paper delivered through Who Gives A Crap, there are alcohol delivery services, pet food, you name it! The best part is you can generally set up recurring orders, or do your orders late at night for delivery the next day, so you can save yourself a lot of time without having to battle traffic and find a park just to pick up your groceries. Sounds like a win to me!
Mix Up Your Commutes
Going from driving every day to work to not driving at all is not realistic for everyone, but most people could mix up their commute a little if you change your mindset around it. Me, I live about 3km from my work but instead of getting the tram I walk both ways, making it part of my daily exercise routine, which saves me time in the long run.
You could try getting public transport once a week (maybe on a Friday so you can partake in a cheeky post-work beverage without having to worry about driving afterwards!), or when the weather is less rainy give riding to work a try. If you normally drive to your local station to get the train to work, you could try riding instead, saving that morning stress about whether there will be any parks left when you get there, plus helping get a little extra exercise into your day at the same time.
Carpooling is also an excellent option if public transport isn’t feasible, so it’s worth asking around at your workplace for anyone else that might live in the same direction as you. It takes some planning but can save you both a lot of money, and maybe even some time if it means you can use the carpool lane on the freeway!
Make the Alternatives Fun
I use my walking-to-work time to listen to podcasts, and I’ve now built up such a collection of favourites that I almost want my walk to be longer so I can get through them faster! Audio books are another excellent option, and downloading a collection of podcasts or audiobooks can make any public transport trip or walk to work a lot more fun. Instead of feeling like your commute is a chore, look at it as an excellent opportunity to zone out a little (which you shouldn’t do while you’re driving!), do something you enjoy and not have to worry as the journey is completely out of your hands. Relish it!
Making the alternatives fun isn’t only about your work commute though, it can be applied to anything where you’re trying to leave the car at home. If you tend to go out on the weekends to get coffee, instead of driving take the kids for a walk, with the coffee shop the end of the adventure, getting everyone out of the house and into the fresh air. Pick up some bread or milk on the way home if need be, and then you’ve done some exercise, got your coffee and tired out the kids all in one go!
One thing that car free living can be difficult for is spontaneous decisions, particularly if you don’t live close by to things. I found that growing up in the burbs without a car has resulted in me having great time management skills as well as being an excellent forward planner, which are useful skills not just for getting around! If you’re car-less or even just want to leave the car at home then the public transport journey planner websites will definitely become your friend. You can plan routes, check for any works that might be happening and figure out how long it will take you to get where you want to be, making the journey itself a lot smoother. I also follow the relevant public transport bodies on twitter for real time updates on any service changes, as they are generally updated much quicker than the websites.
Look Into Car-Share Schemes
Car share schemes are fantastic options for those without cars (and something I’m about to look into to, B was always my car-source for longer trips but we’re no longer together), as they are much cheaper than owning your own! Plus, most car share schemes have the added advantage that they have a range of cars on offer from little city-runarounds to vans, 4WD and everything in between, so you can borrow whatever car suits your needs. There are even some car share schemes that work by hiring out your neighbours cars which I think are a great idea, so it’s worth doing some research to see what’s available in your area.