Our Year Without A Car
This time last year we switched our car insurance to one where you pay a small annual flat fee and then pay per mile that you drive each month. We had realised for a long time that we weren’t really using the car that much, so this felt like a really good idea and a way of saving some money. We also thought it might help us to work out whether we needed a car at all!
I learned to drive in my 20s and then have never really driven since. I have nearly always lived in a city, so walking and using public transport has always been second nature to me. Plus I really don’t like driving or cars. So, my husband was the only one driving the car. As we live in London he uses public transport to get to work and we live close to school, so we walk. So, the car was just for weekends and often we would go for several weekends without getting in the car at all. It wasn’t a shock, therefore, when we discovered we were using the car for an average of about 60 miles a month. That was an expensive 60 miles!
As a family we had started to talk more and more about extra steps we could all take to look after the environment and we had decided to commit to making lots of changes in 2019. Getting rid of our car seemed like a brilliant way to kick-start this.
At first the children were really not sure. They understood about the environmental impact of cars but were not so sure about what that meant for getting around. However, after a couple of really successful and fun train journeys (including one to Center Parcs for my Mum’s birthday!) they were really committed to not having a car.
There are times we need a car to do something locally that is tricky by public transport, so we hire a nearby electric car or other car if an electric one isn’t available. We are really lucky in London because there are a lot of these cars available, so it really is pretty easy.
Each year we travel down to St. Ives in Cornwall and when we are there we never get in the car because we love St. Ives so much and all that we can do there. So, this year it was brilliant to take the train there. We got to read, play games, snooze and enjoy the beautiful views. It was so good.
In the Summer holidays we went to Suffolk. We knew we would need a car while we were there but we did take the train to Ipswich and hired a car from there. We felt that was a good compromise.
One of the unexpected benefits of not having a car is that the children are learning how to travel independently. If you are always driven around it can be quite tricky to navigate public transport but when you are using it all the time, your confidence grows and you can start to lead the way, look for the right platform, use the ticket barriers etc. This all sounds simple stuff when you have been doing it for years but it really is stuff that we need to learn and feel comfortable doing.
We have had some mixed reactions to our decision to live without owning a car but generally people have been really interested and inspired. If we can do it with four children, I am sure more people can join us.
We are living in a Climate Crisis and as a family we are committed to do all that we can to look after our planet, so I cannot imagine that we will be getting a car again.
I will be back soon to tell you the other changes we have made this year. If you have any questions about living without a car then please pop them in the comments below. xo