Travel Tips

Do You Drive Too Much?

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heavy trafficI drive too much. You probably do, too.

We think about driving all wrong, too. As I write this I’m waiting for a bus from Birmingham to Atlanta. I took a cab from my house to the bus station, I plan to take Uber or a cab from the bus station to my hotel when I get there, and I’m going to take a cab home. Atlanta really isn’t that far, so why didn’t I just drive? And why didn’t I just drive to the bus station?

First, driving is a lot more dangerous than we usually suppose. We under-estimate the risk of driving because we do it all the time.

Second, by taking Greyhound or flying, I can concentrate on my work instead of the road. I could listen to podcasts or audiobooks while driving, but I would rather be able to read or work on a writing project that involves serious concentration without having to divide my attention between the road and what I’m listening to.

Third, by going cab-Greyhound-Uber on this trip I don’t have to pay for parking. Two days of parking my car at the hotel would cost more than roundtrip bus fare, and four days parking my car in downtown Birmingham would cost more than the cab ride to the bus station. Depreciation and gas are important, too.

Fourth, going cab-Greyhound-Uber frees up the mental processing power I would otherwise spend navigating downtown Birmingham (if I drove to the bus station) or navigating downtown Atlanta (if I drove to Atlanta). These are especially serious costs for me as I don’t handle driving stress very well. This means I’m more relaxed and more focused when I get to where I’m going.

Fifth, and speaking of mental processing power, for reimbursement purposes it’s a bit easier to submit cab and bus receipts receipts than it is to document my mileage using Google Maps or something.

Sixth, there’s such a thing as too much choice. Instead of looking for something at an exit, I’m having lunch at Subway. Why? Because that’s where the bus stops.

Seventh, there are probably some environmental benefits. The bus was going to and from Atlanta anyway whether I was on it or not. Taking the bus means cutting out the emissions I would produce by driving to and from Atlanta. You’re welcome.

Eighth, I don’t have to remember where I parked. As I’ve joked before that if I someday write an autobiography it will be titled Where are My Keys?! Being able to snap a photo of my car in an airport parking deck has given a bit of peace to my absent mind, but it’s still nice to not have to worry about this.

Am I missing any other benefits of flying or taking the bus when the conventional wisdom says “drive”?


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