Personal transportation: a little planning goes a long way

When my wife and I sent our son off to college with our old car, we took the opportunity to downsize to a more fuel-efficient one. We got a Honda Civic hybrid and it’s been fantastic at cutting our gas costs. But the car’s fuel efficiency is just part of it. We also figured out how to drive less and save even more.

Up until a couple years ago, a good portion of our weekend was spent running errands and handling the household tasks that most of have a hard time fitting in to our schedules during the work week: going to the farmers market or grocery shopping, picking up or dropping off library books or dry cleaning, stopping by the hardware store – you know: the administrative details of family life.

But after our son went off to school, with just one car at home, we had to be a lot more intentional about how and where we traveled so that no one was left stranded and all the household tasks were still taken care of.

So we started planning our ‘to do’ lists so we could travel less. Instead of several small trips out to run a single errand and back, we mapped them out so that we hit each one in succession, making a big loop and ending up back at home. We also use technology to cut down on trips, such as using the library’s online systems to check whether books we’ve reserved are in yet, instead of driving by to check. Little steps add up over time.

This approach takes a little more thought on the front end to plan ahead, but so far, it’s meant a lot less time on the road, less gas used, more money saved, and usually, more time for us to spend together doing the things we really enjoy much more than running errands, like gardening and spending time with family and friends.

Here are some online tools to help you trim your trips too. Happy traveling!

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