Living an intentionally simple life requires planning, flexibility to your plan, and creativity. From December 2009-May 2010, my husband and I lived without a car. The plan was to save the 400 dollars a month we were spending on the car, reduce our carbon footprint, pay off the debt we owed on the car, and save up money to buy an older, used car with cash. Some of our friends and family thought we were insane when we told them about the time we had to attempt to take our sick dog on the bus to get to his vet or walking through the snow to get our groceries every two weeks. But through the crazy experiences, we learned a lot about how to survive on very little. Here are my most creative tips for those willing to take the leap into a smaller lifestyle and live without a car:
- Always layer up: Even if the weather is sunny and bright, always bring a sweater. The weather can change before you know it. Not only are there physical dangers that you are risking by not staying warm on your commute, but you also don’t want to have to call your partner to walk through a blizzard to bring you boots and a jacket. Trust me, it’s not fun.
- Invest in a bike trailer: This is for the pet owner. Don’t let yourself be stuck in a situation where your pet needs medical care immediately and you can’t get them to the vet. Most public transportation systems will not let you bring a dog along and if you are too far from the vet to walk, you need a back up plan. Use a bike trailer to pull the dog and bike you and your pet to get the medical attention it needs.
- Buy a bus pass: Most people don’t live, work, and entertain themselves all within a 5 mile radius, especially in metro areas. Even if you do, invest in a few tickets because every once in awhile you’ll end up needing to see a doctor that’s further north or heading up to the airport that’s at the end of town. And if your bike breaks down or the weather doesn’t allow you to ride somewhere, you’ll need to catch the bus last minute.
- Always lock up your bike: Even if you are just going into a store for five minutes, always take the time to use your lock. Invest in a thick lock that would be hard to break through and try to lock your bike up in a heavily trafficed area.
- Wear sunglasses to ride in the snow or rain: You’ll probably feel stupid because there is absolutely no sun out, but wearing glasses will help you to keep moisture out of your eyes and allow you to be safer. If you are riding in these conditions, you’ll want to be very alert and focused and you can’t do that with snow coming at your eyes.