How To Get Around Without a Car

I haven’t had a car in about 2 years. Throughout that time I’ve lived in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and Atlanta, Georgia.

I believe I’ve got a firm grip on how to move around without owning a vehicle. Largely it’s been by using the different tools I have at my disposal. In fact I’ve even found a new way about 4 minutes ago :)

I remember being a little kid being fuascinated by traveling in cars. I would always see adults with these cars that could take them thousands of miles away and wonder why they’d go to the same place everyday. Then I became an adult and turned out being the same way :/

Public Transportation

These days most of the public transportation I use allows you to use apps for proof of purchase. I use the app GoPass for the trains and busses in Dallas and when I lived in Austin I used an app called CapMetro. I love using apps over coins or dollar bills to pay for public transportation. It’s nice having an option.

If you’re using public transportation it’s pretty much a must to use it with Google Maps

Uber and Lyft

These are Ride-Sharing services that have served me very well. I first really dove into Uber when I was stranded. I had just come back in from Houston at 2am on a Greyhound bus that was late. All trains and busses had shut down for the night. I planned to stay with a friend about 13 miles away from downtown Dallas. I remembered an email I had saying I had a free ride through Uber, so I decided to give it a go. I downloaded the Uber app, put in my Paypal info (although you can use a credit/debit card) and requested a ride from Downtown Dallas, TX to Iriving, TX. The guy showed up in a Toyota Corolla and drove me to where I wanted to go for way less than a cab would have cost. I was happy.

Damn have I Uber’ed a lot since then. I’ve used Lyft too. Lyft works almost exactly like Uber but a little cheaper and with fewer drivers. I can’t rely on Lyft like I would Uber because there often are not drivers in my area through lift at the time of this writing.

Zipcar
There’s actually a service called Zipcar that I found out about less than a week ago. Zipcar allows you to drive cars by the hour or day with gas & insurance included.

I have not used this service yet, but I sure could see the use.

If you wanted to move something big in your house from one location to another, you could rent a truck for a couple of hours and move it that way.

Or what if you had lots of places to go? One thing I realized was that the public transportation system was very inefficient for going multiple places quickly and EXTREMELY inefficient for going across town.

Many times you have to get of one bus/train and take another, and since buses and trains run anywhere from every 10 minutes to once every hour, you might be waiting for a long time to get to the next spot you want to go using public transportation.

Rides from friends/family

This is definitely an option I took advantage of. I am very thankful to anyone who has ever given me a ride anywhere. Of course, this option does have obvious disadvantages. The owners of the cars are pretty much in control of where to go and when to go there.

Even if they decide to relinquish that control to you temporarily, there will most likely be at least subtle notices that the car belongs to them.

Usually I find that if you are giving more value than receiving (i.e. keeping the car clean/filling the gas up/taking good care of the car/providing them with a tangible benefit in exchange for using their car) then things tend to go pretty smoothly.

Megabus and Greyhound

These are services I use to navigate from city to city. I’ve been to different cities within Texas too many times to count, but have been to other states on these busses too. I once took a trip from Texas to Atlanta. Fun! and pretty cheap too. The trip was around sixty bucks.

Be prepared to be on a packed bus if you’re using one of these. Sometimes there are rides where hardly anyone is on with me. Usually the earlier I leave the city I’m coming from, the less packed the bus is.

Conclusion

Uber, Lyft, Megabus and Zipcar haven’t been around for that long, so before then it was taxi, your own vehicle, public transportation, hitching a ride from friends/family/stranger or bust. I definitely appreciate the options that are available now.

Though it’s becoming easier to navigate cities without a car, I’d still rather own a car, possibly because I’ve gone so long without one.

I just bought a brand new 2015 Dodge Charger yesterday and it was a pretty surreal moment. I remember days in the scorching heat drenched in sweat waiting on a bus that was late. I remember days where it was pouring down and there was no cover around the bus stop and I just had to sit there and take it. I remember walking lots of places and seeing cars I wanted all around me everywhere. I can remember all the people that helped me out with rides to stores, malls, bus stops, friends houses etc.