Avoiding our car whenever possible

We are a one car family but as our family grows we are discussing the inevitable….the mini van! Oh how I wish American vans were more like Euro vans! Small, gas efficient, small tires and engines, fold up seats and a small sounding horn that goes, “meep, meep”. But I digress. Even though we are likely to move onto a mini van we’ll still only be a one car family. We have been given three cars since we got married. We had a Delta 88 and we sold it to a guy named Chill. It was hilarious to hear my husband on the phone speaking in his proper English accent saying, “Oh hello. Is this Chill?” Another car we gave to some friends after we were given our third car. All of them have been old faithfuls just in case you were wondering if we were given Toyota Hybrids at each giving. People also loan us cars when they go out of town so Matt is often able to use another car for a week or two to drive to the other side of town for work. It’s worked out really well for us. Those little blessings have been super helpful for us but in all honesty we have functioned very well as a one car family.

Matt started to take the bus to work two years ago taking advantage of the alone time during the commute. It’s also been like watching a good movie seeing all sorts of people that ride the bus. I find it fascinating that riding the bus in the states is considered a poor man’s mean of transportation but in other countries it’s often the main mode of transport, either that or some sort of tram. A lot of countries have a great rail system that will take you all over the city and rich and poor take the bus or tram rather than owning a car. Here in the US if you take the bus it’s likely because you can’t afford a car, that’s the assumption anyway. I have met some unsavory characters in my years riding the bus but I’m sure there are just as many crazies who are driving to work in their car. I’m excited however that it seems public transport is making a comeback.

When I use to live south of Seattle I would cringe when I had to drive on I-5 (our main interstate). The carpool lane is often unused, gridlock is a reality that will cause severe road rage and there is ALWAYS construction going on because they are ALWAYS making the freeway bigger. People want to be left alone as they listen to their own music and drink their own latte. It’s what we’re use to. I’m always impressed when I see the occasional car full of business men, not speaking to one another, reading their papers in a single car. Way to go! Carpooling!

Last year we took our kids on their first family bus ride downtown to play at the children’s museum and they LOVED it. It was sort of a family adventure and my son thought it was the most amazing thing in the world to be in a huge bus with other people. I can’t say it’s something we do as a family all the time (my husband takes them out on the bus more) but it definitely opened up a new world of family transport for me. I look for ways in which we don’t have to use our car. I actually don’t like using my car at all. It’s a necessary evil when picking up groceries and living in a state where winter graces us in the single digits for six months out of the year. In the summer we try to bike or walk as much as possible and it helps that we live next to a bike path and many other conveniences. My husband and I trade car days depending on the week’s events. It’s challenged our thinking about taking the bus and how economical, safe and relaxing it can be. It does take a bit longer but….oh well.

It’s a lot safer than it use to be, you don’t have to worry about parking and it’s a great way to intentionally slow your life down. I’m thinking this spring allow more opportunity to explore the city and give the kids an adventure. It’s not always convenient or possible for everybody but if you have the means I highly recommend it. Plus, your kids will love it!


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9 thoughts on “Avoiding our car whenever possible

  1. We are a one car family too. Well, that and I don’t drive in the first place. But I’ve always gotten around with my kids either walking or riding the bus. When our previous car broke down right before Gav started school in September, Joe, Jayce and I took to riding the bus to get school supplies. We were able to stuff everything in Gav’s new backpack, plus we made it into a fun family adventure. Living in the Stadium District is great too. We have everything within walking distance. With the exception of grocery shopping (Stadium Thriftway can get expensive), and far away outings, we pretty much try to use the car as little as possible. Saves money and is friendly to the environment. Love your posts, Tracie!

    • I was just thinking of when I lived near Stadium too. So convenient. HOpefully we’ll live in the North End when we move back. I think Tacoma’s bus system is actually better than here so I’m looking forward to everything being familiar again. Thanks for the comments.

  2. Yes, I miss really decent public transport. I remember even in small towns like Harpenden and Luton, being able to take buses, trains anywhere! I miss living in Brussels too, where a metro-pass was so cheap and you could pretty much go anywhere in the city. So nice. Another cheap alternative if you do need another vehicle, but don’t want a car, is to get a scooter!!! 100 mpg. That’s what we did for about a year – I took the car, cos I worked further away, and John rode the scooter, in rain or shine.

    • I also miss the tram from Harpenden into London. So convenient and no hassle with parking in the city. I wish we could do scooters but you know, with kids…. Cities need to really invest into public transport. It just makes more sense. Thanks for commenting. Missing you, Marie.

  3. Hi Tracie! I think getting around without having to drive is wonderful. When we lived in Port Angeles, my family walked and rode their bikes everywhere. Now that I’m on the outskirts of town, I really miss that! We spend a lot of time at home now. Which is a good thing. Also, when I had my third child, we caved and bought the dreaded mini-van. Never say never! haha. A Euro van would be so fun.

    • Amy, we’re already looking at mini vans. Oh well. I’m actually excited about having something with more room that allows us to go camping. There’s just no way we can do a car with three. Thanks for commenting

  4. Our first year in Costa Rica we were carless – so lots of buses and taxis. Honestly, it was a pain in the butt, especially for groceries, but I think that’s because we have TOO MANY children 😉 It’s funny you posted this because we were singing “wheels on the bus” yesterday and I was reminiscing about bus rides with children. They do love it. We’ve also done several really long bus rides – 8 or 9 hours, which can get crazy, but the kids do well. The best public transport I’ve ever experienced is Singapore – absolutely the best. Now with 4 kids, I really can’t imagine, especially by myself! We are definitely a one car fam and Scott rides his bike a lot to work and places. Good thoughts, tracie! oh, and p.s. – we had to make the switch to minivan with our third kid – to me I actually loved it, just to have that extra space to take trips and stuff like that – good luck!

  5. In Argentina also we use lots of public transportations, sometimes is actually not that fun when is hot and we were all packed up like sardines! But not just poor people travels in them, all kinds. But is so true about the USA, I only know how they see the public transportations by films! they always looks so scary,etc!! Maybe they are worse in a city?? no idea….
    ps: had a good laugh at matt talking to chill too! ha ha

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