Reflecting on the No-Car Lifestyle

Tomorrow marks another turning point in our adventures. For 76 days, we have relied on bicycles (and a moped, occasionally, since Frankfort, when we were able to repair the flat tire) for transportation. In the morning, we will take a cab to the airport and rent a car. I will then drive Rob to Midland, where he will ride with his dad to Ossineke, where we left our car. On Saturday, Rob will return with the car, which we will have with us for the rest of the trip.

So, after some crazy jockeying around, we will once again have an automobile. How bizarre.

This change of events has led me to reflect on our 3+ months of car-free living. There are some definite pros, and some changes I will make when we return home. And there are some cons, and some things we will do differently next year.

First, the great things about life without an automobile:
–It’s cheaper! We spend less on gas, and I haven’t bothered to renew our car insurance yet (I will tomorrow, of course…).

–It’s forced us to shop locally. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been in a Walmart or other big box store. If a big box store is in a town, it’s almost always on the outskirts, and I’m going to favor the closer store on Main Street. Surprisingly, we have not spent more this way. However…

–We have consumed less! There are no “errand running” afternoons, no recreational shopping. There aren’t a lot of impulse buys, because we’re not going to “superstores.”

–The obvious one: we’re getting more exercise. We’ve had more energy, we’ve sleeping better. It’s been great.

–We’re really a part of the communities we visit. We walk down the streets. We talk to people. We’re definitely not “fudges.”

–Annoying errands have become fun family outings. We ride together, then stop at the playground.

Still, there are some cons…
–The trips back to Midland for therapy always seem to occur when we’re away from a car rental place (or broke!). So we need to rely on people to pick us up.

–We thought we would take the bus back to Midland, but bus routes are not practical south of Traverse City. It costs more and takes more than 12 hours.

–Bicycling in the rain is okay, but in worse weather, it is no picnic.

So, what are we going to do? When we return home, we’ll definitely use our cars less, at least until winter. And we’ll plan our shopping more deliberately, avoiding the big box stores.

As for next year, we are planning on having a home port, so we will have a car nearby. We will be car-free when we are cruising, but it will be waiting for us in Frankfort. Having a home port will work better for us, until Beanie is done with therapy (or is advanced enough to take a summer off). This summer, it wasn’t really possible, because our goal was to make it to Lake Michigan. Now that we’re here, we plan to,stay for awhile.

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