Tag Archives: driving

When Was the Last Time You Walked Your Errands?

Driving to run errands is very much so a habit for most people. It’s easier and faster. But if the places you need to go are within walking or bike riding distance, it’s perhaps not the right choice. How often could you do errands without using your car, and how often do you?

It’s a question worth thinking on.


Whether you want to walk, ride a bike or drive depends in part on how far you need to go. If it’s under a mile, walking is often not a bad option, weather permitting. Biking a few miles each way can be a reasonable choice too. There’s certainly a point where driving or taking mass transit makes more sense.


Some weather is better than other weather for walking or riding. Extremely hot and humid days can be a poor choice, especially if you aren’t used to doing a lot of walking. However, you could carry a water bottle and wear a hat and sunscreen on hot days to make things safer. You do not want to overheat or suffer from heat stroke.

Personally, I like walking on rainy days, but not quite so much for shopping errands. It depends on how much rain you’re talking as well. Snow is probably not the best for walking errands unless they’re pretty short.


Not all areas are safe for walking or riding a bike. You need to use your common sense.

A lack of sidewalks is a big part of the problem in some areas. There isn’t always a safe shoulder for pedestrians to walk along on busy roads that they need to use to get where they’re going.

How Much You’ll be Carrying

Some errands, even over a short distance, really don’t work as walking or biking, or even mass transit errands. Sometimes you need a car to carry everything you buy or are disposing of.

Reusable Bags

Having reusable shopping bags is wonderful when you don’t drive your errands. They can have much more comfortable handles for carrying purchases. They also go well in bicycle baskets or folding shopping carts if you want an easier way to lug things along.


You don’t need a lot of gear to walk your errands. The main things you need are comfortable walking shoes. Good shoes are worth the money.

I also recommend a hat for sun protection. My mother’s been serious about hat use since having a skin cancer removed from her scalp. That’s good motivation for me too.

If you think you might take a bike for some errands, it’s worth the money. They cost much less than cars (obviously!) and need only a little maintenance here and there. Include a basket on the bike to make running errands on it easier.

How Well Do You Combine Your Errands?

As a mom, I generally have a ton of stuff to get done, both at home and elsewhere. It can be pretty chaotic some days. Tuesdays are the worst for me, as my son has speech therapy in the morning, both older kids have karate in the evening, not to mention trying to get my youngest down for her nap and my oldest home from school.

That nap’s the real challenge. First speech therapy interferes with its usual schedule, but picking my oldest up from school means it has to wait even longer.

On the plus side, it’s a great day for me to combine errands.

Tuesdays are also the days that I do the grocery shopping most weeks. Why not? I have a significant part of an hour to kill while my son’s in speech therapy. Sitting and waiting for the class to end is no good; neither is going home and suddenly having to pack up to go get him with less than an hour at home.

I love combining errands like that. It’s both time and fuel efficient.

Using my minivan as efficiently as possible is important to me. It’s much more environmentally friendly that way. A warmed up vehicle uses fuel more efficiently. It can save miles of driving.

Other errands can be combined too. Where I live, there are grocery stores near enough, but for just about anything else, it’s a minimum 20 minutes driving each way. We try to combine every trip we can. I even try to have my husband stop off and do some types of errands on his way home from work if he’s not too tired. It’s just much more efficient.

Try to think about how you can combine errands before you head out. Make a list if it helps you to remember everything you need to buy or do. You’ll save time, gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. Not a bad deal for being eco friendly to boot.

How We Are Trying to Keep Our Minivan Green

One of the things we needed with the coming of the new baby is a minivan, which we bought a bit over a week ago. It’s an idea I resisted, as we’ve done so well as a one car family. But babies have more doctor appointments and our one car was a 4 seater. Not exactly adequate for a family of 5.

I kept aiming for a larger sedan, rather than a minivan. Better gas mileage as a general rule. But I didn’t win that debate, and a minivan is what we now have. A 2002 Mazda MPV, to be specific.

I have to admit, it is comfortable for all of us.

Our goal, however, is to only use it when we need to do something with the kids along. We aren’t buying extra car seats just to be able to switch back and forth by the number of people. That would be a waste.

Instead, the old car is the commuter/errands without kids car.

This allows us to take advantage of the better mileage of the old car. I built the habit quickly of running errands only when my husband is home, and I want to keep that habit so that I can just go in the car rather than the minivan. It just makes sense to me to be efficient.

Another key point is how long we keep it. I have always had a habit of driving a car until it costs more than I’m willing to pay in repairs. Generally someone else is willing to go further with it. I’m just not the sort to replace a vehicle every few years. That’s not a green decision in most cases, no matter how good a newer vehicle feels.

Some of the lacks I like. No DVD player installed, although it could have one. I’ve always felt that if you must have one, a portable one makes more sense than one stuck in the car. That said, we don’t have a portable DVD player either. I can think of other ways for the kids to keep themselves busy on the kinds of  (rare) trips we take as a family.

No power doors or power seats. That makes things harder for the kids, but I don’t mind needing to open the doors for them. The kids will be able to cope with those when they’re older. And I think I can adjust my own seat.

Overall, I think we can do well by keeping our usage sensible. No overplanning activities for the kids. No driving just to drive. Thinking about which car we use.

It’s not as green as a hybrid or low emissions car, but it will do. Especially on our budget.

Can You Avoid Rush Hour?

With gas prices constantly on the rise right now, anything you can do to avoid driving during rush hour is likely to be a very good thing. For anyone working outside the home this can be difficult. For at home moms like me, it’s pretty easy.

But you can try. The increasing gas prices have encouraged employers to start paying attention to the options. Some companies are becoming more open to the idea of a more flexible start time. If you can start and end your day an hour earlier or later you can avoid quite a bit of traffic in many areas.

If you don’t need to be face to face with people, telecommuting is another option you should be looking at. Even one day a week can save you a lot.

And then there’s the classic. Carpooling. My sister does this one and saves a significant chunk of money every month. She had to adjust her work schedule to go with her coworkers, as her employer already offers flexible starting times, but fortunately they had an early start time and now she not only avoids traffic and saves gas, she gets more time after work with her family.

Pretty good deal.

Public transportation works well in some areas, not so well in others. My area pretty much falls into the “not so well” category. In other areas it can be highly efficient. And even in my area I know a mom at my daughter’s school who takes the bus with her son every morning to school. She just prefers ours to the one nearest to her home. For a distance that short, it works reasonably. I wouldn’t try it long distance without a lot of need around here.

But as I said, in other places it is highly efficient. You may have light rail options as well as buses. We do have light rail, but not near me.

If you are at home, it’s best to just avoid all these entirely. Plan your errands for quieter times of the day. Makes them much faster and pleasanter. Ask for doctor’s appointments at times that will be convenient to you in terms of traffic as well as your daily routine.

And of course, walk or ride a bike when possible.

Many of these tips have the potential to save you a lot of money. The less you drive, the less often you’ll feel the pain of gassing your car up. That can’t be a bad thing.