This is a guest post by The Romantic of the Lazy Travelers.
As city girls, we’re proud of the fact that our carbon footprints are naturally a little smaller than those of our friends out in the ‘burbs. We can complain about our <500 sq. ft. studios & dependency on public transit all we want, but maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way. Maybe we need to start feeling proud of the fact that we only need one lamp to fully light every corner of our home. We should sing from the rooftops that despite our discomfort, wedging ourselves between a smelly dude and a metal subway pole just so we can get to work on time means that we’re also helping the environment!
If this seems like too much of a stretch, consider this: when you travel, what’s your automatic go-to for traversing a new city? For many, it’s a quick cab ride wherever they need to go, or a rented car to help get in and out of the city as they please. While this is understandable (and sometimes your only real option), for us city folk, there’s no question: when possible, we make it a priority to learn the ins & outs of the public transit system.
Though we’re not claiming we love public transit, we can’t deny that there are major benefits to knowing the local options when exploring a new city. Plus, along with being the greener alternative, there are other bonus points as well:
Extra time to explore.
Though the convenience of a cab is undeniable, it doesn’t give you much wiggle room to explore the surrounding area. Door to door service is perfect when the weather is crappy or it’s late at night and you just went to be back at your hotel, but on those days when you’re bouncing from neighborhood to neighborhood? Don’t book it so quickly to your destination! Get off the train or the bus and enjoy the blocks between your stop and your destination. Who knows if you’ll find the perfect sidewalk café or the best stop for a wine-break.
Sometimes it really IS faster.
In a city like New York, it can almost be hard to admit that, in most cases, the subway will actually get you to your destination faster than a cab. This is especially true during the holidays and anytime Barack Obama or Justin Beiber is in town.
Getting up close & personal with the local culture.
Road trips are great and cab drivers can occasionally be interesting to chat with, but neither one really gives you complete insight into the everyday culture of the city you’re visiting. Riding the metro, you’ll see everything from people on their daily commutes to work to kids on their way to school to people transporting groceries home. You can get an idea of what the neighborhoods along the line are like, and outside the confines of a car, you’re much more likely to witness a few things worth re-telling post-trip.
Are there negatives to public transit? Um, duh. But when you’re really not loving the smell of the train car you chose or the person you’re stuck standing way-too-close to, think of all the things you can do with the money you saved by not taking a cab. That well-earned glass of wine at your next stop should turn things right around.
While the romantic’s first trip abroad with her family may be the most memorable—who can forget a Beatles’ tour of London & Liverpool?—she didn’t realize her passion for traveling until her boyfriend-now-husband took her on a whirlwind tour of Greece… and proposed in Santorini! They’ve learned a lot since their first trip together (which happened to culminate in a 24 hour London bender with her Lazy Travelers’ co-blogger, the wino), and when given the choice, they’ll skip the tour groups and opt for an outdoor cafe in a heartbeat.