Walking to the Grocery Store and Other Thoughts On Life Without a Car

A few years ago, I read a book with a silly title that talked about French women and the health benefits of their lifestyle—one aspect of which entails that they walk almost everywhere.

At the time, living in the suburbs on a busy road, I shrugged my shoulders and moved on to the next point, to see if maybe I might benefit from that one instead.

But now, living in an urban-ish neighborhood, I finally find myself in a position to be able to put that old-fashioned way-of-life to the test. The funny thing is that I wouldn't have even attempted it if it hadn't been for the fact that I had to. I've lived in this neighborhood for more than a year and a half. But it wasn't until last week that I decided to trek to Publix. And then to Kroger. And then to Home Depot and CVS.

It wasn't until I didn't have access to a car that I realized that I could do all of these things, on foot and in less than an hour, the same amount of time I'd spend strolling through picturesque neighborhoods and wooded parks when I'd go for a walk.

It's been about a year now that my husband and I have been living with only one car. I wrote awhile ago, during the season when I was working from home and my husband had a part-time job, about all the grateful insights I'd garnered from the seeming inconveniences of a shared-car lifestyle.

But it wasn't until my husband got his job, along with a 45-minute one-way commute, that I was really stretched regarding only having one car. For awhile (when the skies were dark and gray and the temperatures harsh), I limited most of my errand walks to the closest neighborhood grocery and waited until the weekend to hit up the others.

But now, thanks to the blue skies and beckoning sunbeams that have come out to play of late, I've finally had the courage (yes, courage to try something new) to put sneakers to the pavement and take grocery bags to the streets.

And I've been surprised at how close things really are, despite the busy streets and traffic lights. I'm pretty sure that I can make it to Kroger faster on foot than when I'm driving and hitting red light after red light!

I know many people are still straddled by suburban constraints or busy schedules that make walking to and fro burdensome or unrealistic. But I also know that sometimes, it's not so bad or hard or far or time-consuming as it might seem. Aren't those the most wonderful of discoveries?

It's literally a breath of fresh air, being able to hitch a bag of groceries over my shoulder and carry the feast home with my own bare hands. All thanks to a little bit of inconvenience that pushed me to take a walk on the wild side of things.

Related Posts
What I've Learned From Being a One-Car Couple
We're Officially a One-Car Family

10 comments:

  1. I hadn't owned a car or driven regulary for almost 10 years, and I LOVED it! Now I'm a reverse commuter, driving over an hour every day and I'm completely miserable. Enjoy the walk!

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  2. Ten years! That's awesome! I would love it if we could keep it up for that long. It really just makes things so much easier in so many ways! Thanks for commenting, Andrea!

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  3. I'm living in Chicago, and without a car. I trek to the grocery store every week!

    I've come up with a system- I use a duffel bag to carry everything, and put the handles over my shoulders like a backpack. Everybody looks at me like I'm nuts, but it's a lot better than carrying fifteen bags. I would buy less and make more trips, but it's easier to do my budgeting when I shop only once a week!

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  4. We're a two working (full-time, outside the home) parents, two kid family with one car - always have been, probably always will be. It does limit some of our choices, but it also opens up new possibilities.

    And you know what really keeps me on budget? Knowing that I have to CARRY whatever I buy home.

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  5. I just LOVE walking to the grocery store! I can only buy what I can fit into my one or two little bags. It's much easier to say no to that box of Cokes when I know I have to lug it home. :)

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  6. @ ~A - Ha, that does make for a funny mental picture but I've totally thought of doing it as well! Right now, I'm able to make a couple of trips a week, but if I have to pare down, I'm certain I'll give it a try!

    @ Anonymous - Wow, I am really impressed to hear you're able to stay 1-car with both of you working outside the home! I hope to be able to do so when I find a job, as well!

    @ Rachel - That is SOO true! Lugging it home gives everything a different perspective :)

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  7. I agree about the walking that french women live by...since moving to the city I've lost a few pounds and toned up just because I walk so much. We use our car to go to church but work, school, groceries, etc...we walk. It's a new way of life that def took some getting use to. But, I love the added in exercise.

    Also, I wish we had publix up here!!

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  8. can relate so much. I have a post from november or octoberish around that area i believe of when I didnt have my car for 6weeks. And i was so surprised at how free and exciting it was to just ride my bike all around town and to not worry or stress over the delays of traffic and the stress of being in car. I was so blessed by getting places through nature and not avoiding it with my car. The trees and grass were much more beautiful and wonderful in all their creation when I was riding my beach cruiser under them to school and starbucks.. AHHHHH simplicity. Jesus lived it and I can understand why when I think of those weeks of no car and just me and my bike.

    ♥cheche

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  9. My husband and I had a roll over accident a few months ago and by the grace of God survived with just a few bruises from the seat belts! Our 20k car was totalled and was paid off by the insurance company.. at first we thought it was horrible, but know we know it was a blessing!! We no longer have a $400 dollar payment+gas+insurance+maintenance. We are now walking everywhere and plan to just ride the bus when we need to go somewhere far.. we LOVE our walks and the exercise and love enjoying the nature in a whole different perspective :) I love your blog btw!

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  10. Well not all French women walk all that much...especially in rural areas.
    I don't own a car, never had and never will. I don't walk all that much either : I go on public transport, which is very developed here in Europe. I also go ...on a bicycle, which is much quicker and you can carry much more stuff too...

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