December 29, 2014

The Freedom of Driving

By: Noemi Gamel

During the 5 months that we traveled in South America, we made use of public transport in many of the cities we visited. We also walked a whole lot. In New Zealand, where we were planning on going to many different places that were quite far, we decided to rent a car. Doing so has opened up a completely new world of possibilities.

When we were bound to walking and public transport, our world was small. We went to shops, restaurants, and sights that were within walking distance of the apartment or hostel where we were staying. Every once in a while we would take a bus or taxi somewhere further away, but for the most part, we stayed within a confined perimeter. When I booked accommodations, I always asked if there were restaurants, a grocery store, bakery, and laundry service within walking distance.

Now that we have a car, our world has expanded. It doesn’t matter if our accommodation is farther from the town center or even in the outskirts, because we can easily drive to town for eating, shopping, or sight seeing. We can also buy groceries in larger amounts, because transporting them from one place to another is easy. You can’t exactly do that when you are traveling by public bus. We can try restaurants that are farther away from us. We have more options regarding the sights we visit.

The other difference I noticed is the way we take in the views. When we traveled by bus, I felt like I needed to entertain myself to pass the time, whether by watching a movie on the iPAD or reading (if the road was not to windy). Now that we are driving, I don’t feel the need to pass the time doing anything else other than enjoying the view outside the window. I think it’s because we are spending time as a family in the car, and we feel more inclined to spend time together. On a bus, you feel more isolated and you don’t want to talk so as to not disturb the other passengers.

Having a car has given us other freedoms too. If we want to stop to admire a view or take photos of wildflowers on the side of the road, we can do that. We have done both. In fact, each of the images accompanying this blog post were taken because of opportunities presented by driving.

When we return to the US, I am committed to taking more road trips. The road to freedom is wide open.