I’m very interested when people say that driving ‘saves time’. Once you get into the habit of walking more, and become more skilled at choosing pleasant routes, you find that the time you spend walking helps you think better, and plan better. We know it certainly benefits your mental and physical health and so often gives you inspiration. I think that actually saves you time in the long run.
I can fully understand though, that for someone who uses the car a lot, it can be a huge and very difficult life change to make that actually needs careful preparation. People who walk a lot actually lead a very different lifestyle from those that depend heavily on their cars. Let me explain:
Walking to work/school/to visit friends/buy local food at the shops means encountering the weather and a different wardrobe. That may sound trite, but if you use a car a lot you can get accustomed to certain habits that you never even noticed. Wearing a short driving jacket perhaps. Fairly thin clothes. Putting flat shoes on and leaving your high heels on the back seat. If you’re going to make it easy for yourself to walk, you’re maybe going to need layers that are light and warm (or cool) depending on the weather. You might need more sunscreen and/or a sun hat too.
Bags are also an issue. If you’re walking any distance you want to break the habit of carrying a bag (whether it is a handbag or a messenger bag for guys) stuffed full of every item you can think of, including the kitchen sink. It is going to put unnecessary strain on your arms or shoulders and just make the whole experience less enjoyable.
Try a different approach for walking. You can get really smart rucksacks these days in different sizes. If you’re walking and travelling by train for a greater distance there is a vast range of bags with wheels to choose from. Some quite rustic, and others super sophisticated. There are even smart roller bags to use in your mall or shopping precinct these days with funky designs.
As far as walking versus driving holidays are concerned, if you plan carefully and choose the right area for your holiday, walking can win hands down in terms of experiences. You may want to try walking or hiking in a group. There are plenty of hiking holiday companies in Europe, for example and you would end up seeing places that are both charming and different.
You may just want to start using public transport a little more. In that case, make sure you know the timetables and the routes properly and start out a little earlier the first time you try a particular route. Try to enjoy the journey, take a book you enjoy and even a small, portable snack.
Finally, there’s the cost question which you may want to bear in mind. It is estimated that in the U.K. the average family spends at least one sixth of their income on running a car. Add up the cost of petrol, maintenance and repairs and even without climate change you’ll find you have at least one really good reason to walk instead of drive.