How to Travel Less

Car Busters 23, April - June 2005

Dear Anna I need help. At first I enjoyed driving - it felt like freedom on four wheels. Now, sitting in traffic jams all day, unable to open the window because of the bad air, and the high gas costs are making it feel more like a four-wheeled prison. I want out, but it keeps pulling me back in. Please, tell me how to travel less.
Signed Disillusioned.

Dear Disillusioned Rethinking car use is vital. Staying still or making fewer, shorter trips are superb ways to cut traffic. Travelling less is safe, green, convenient and cheap. After all, travel isn't a finished product - just sometimes necessary in getting what we need. Imagine a desire comes to mind. How can you achieve it with minimal travel?

Is it essential? In general, aim to buy less by distinguishing a want from and a need. Taking stock of possessions, repair and reuse all avoid duplication. Full intention requires that your heart truly desires the goal. Also the belief that you can attain it and total willingness to have the outcome. Consider buying essentials in bulk, if you can carry them. But, if you are unsure then conserve resources, relax and think again.

Can it be made here? I create self employment at home or close by. My work includes a yoga business, writing and organising events. Unpaid, I do housework and childcare (jointly with my husband). We grow some spinach, window sprouts and berries and use a breadmaker. Making cards and presents is fun and creates personal gifts. We know how to exercise at home and don't need a gym. Could you compress your working hours (e.g. work four days a week instead of five) or telework? Even one day at home a fortnight cuts commuting by 10%

Favour locally made and sourced goods. As well as cutting personal travel, total product miles are reduced.

Can it be delivered? Brought to you services are fabulous. Put out a request verbally, by phone, internet, post, email, text, fax or written list. Remember to ask family, friends and neighbours as well as delivery staff. Examples are post, financial services, take aways, groceries, milk, news, babysitting, renewals, cleaning and hairdressing. For years we rented cloth nappies and had them laundered. Others will easily find you if you provide the address, written directions, public transport details and/or a map.

Can it be collected? Things that can be collected: Me, my family, equipment, direct debits, recycling, child from school, charity bags, cycle and rubbish are collected. Use bicycle couriers if possible. Share a lift to work from your home; is there a nearby pick up system? Lift share and car pooling are mainstays of travel plans. Park and ride is another example.

Can I set the venue? If you must meet, invite people to where you'll be for another reason. Teleconferencing and web cam are the high tech solutions. Usually my private students visit me. If they arrive late, they haven't wasted my time. Otherwise, reduce your travel by choosing the nearest place or meeting mid way.

Where is the nearest place for this? Proximity is crucial. Kind neighbours give, lend or sell me child care, nearly new clothes, pet feeding, plant watering, videos, books, company, sometimes food and more. Otherwise, the corner shop often has what I need. I hire a nearby hall for my yoga business and rarely make appointments that are inaccessible by cycle or public transport. When going somewhere you've never been before, ask for directions so that you won't get lost.

When? Urgency often determines transport choice. Thinking ahead can help avoid congested areas or times. Home shopping, walking, cycling or public transport are attractive options when there is no hurry.

Can it be linked with another purpose? Overal mileage is cut by doing complimentary jobs together. Aim to do your errands in a round trip. For instance, post boxes can be found en route and when I visit the children's theatre I'll often change our library books as the buildings are nearby.

Have I got a 'to get' list? Write and carry a list or risk forgeting a crucial item. Shared lists are best. My husband and I both know what the other needs getting.

Is the life I want available locally? In Britain people move every eight years or so. Aim to live well by staying put, walking, cycling or taking public transport.

Travelling less raises everyone's quality of life. You'll also be better prepared for when oil prices rise. Good luck.

Anna Semlyen

Author of Cutting Your Car Use, Sales 55,000+. We are actively seeking publishers and potential authors in other countries to produce local editions (except North America or Wales). If you are interested email

Back to Top.

alternative methods of transport
Green Pages Ethical Junction

Website Design York

alternative methods of transport
alternative methods of transport