Technically we aren't car-free, we're more like car-light. We do own a car that my partner uses for work - and we do take advantage of it for larger outings on the weekend. Still, my day to day reality at home with Leo, our toddler, is without a car. My partner leaves for work as we are beginning our day and doesn't return home until a couple hours before Leo's bedtime. So we spend our days without a car - and for the most part, we don't miss it.
Knowing we were going to be without a car for the most part was a major factor in choosing to live in an urban area. Not having a car would be a lot harder if we couldn't walk to coffee shops, grocery stores, playgrounds, libraries, restaurants, a post office, and a several types of public transportation.
What are my favorite benefits of being car-light?
- I get a lot more exercise
- I support more local businesses
- I really get to know my neighbors as we are out and about in our neighborhood
- It's great for the environment
- It saves money
- I think it's a great example to set for our kids
Is it a bit more challenging sometimes? Absolutely, but it is worth the extra hassle. Here are some of my best tips for going car-free; even if just a few days a week.
- Plan your route. Try and make a circle to loop back home - and try and schedule errands that require carrying heavy things - like the library, post office, or groceries - for first or last (depending if you are picking up or dropping off).
- Pack a fantastic diaper bag. Snacks, umbrella, water, and a change of clothes accompany the typical diapers and wipes in our bag. You do not want to get stranded across the city without a key item.
- Invest in a light stroller with some undercarriage storage, a good carrier and/or in some reusable bags that zip-up small to throw in the diaper bag. For most of Leo's life I primarily wore him in a carrier and resigned myself to being a glorified pack-mule on library/grocery days. Now that he's over 25 lbs and I've got a third trimester belly brewing I am using the stroller more and more - which has been nice for holding the diaper bag and items we pick up along the way - but I do miss the ease of wearing him.
- Explore public transit. When trying a new route either allow yourself plenty of time or test it out without a hard timeline (like an appointment you can't be late for). Make sure to walk around near the transit stops - it's a great way to discover new areas of your city.
- Invest in some good walking shoes and cold weather gear. Both you and your little one(s) need to stay warm in colder weather and if your feet are going to be the main transportation - they deserve to be comfy!
How much do you rely on your car? Do you live in a walkable area?