Didn't Bring a Car to School? Tips for Traveling and Getting Around Town

Unless you live in a big city, college will probably be the time in your life in which you do the most walking. Some college students consider their car a necessity, but many students also find it hard to bring a car to school. Maybe your school's parking passes are expensive and hard to get or you don't have a personal vehicle. Maybe your car broke down or prefer walking to driving. Whatever the reason, it is easier than you think to get around without a car.

1. Invest in a good pair of shoes

It may seem obvious, but when you put on this many miles, you will go through shoes like crazy. If you have the option, always opt for the higher quality pair, even if it is more expensive. Those cheap fashion boots might look good, but you don't want to be walking around with blisters or a hole in your shoe after two weeks. It may be more money up front, but a good pair of comfortable shoes that last will save you money in the long run.

2. Remember common sense safety

Just use your head. Avoid walking at night or in strange neighborhoods by yourself. If you have to walk at night, don't wear dark colors or get a clip-on light. Crosswalks are there for a reason and cars will most likely stop for you if you are in one when you cross the street. The weird feeling in your gut is probably right and you should turn around immediately. If you do find yourself in a strange situation, your phone is here to help. Google Maps allows you to select a walking option for directions. There is also an app called Glympse which allows you to temporarily send your location to a friend or family member for an amount of time that you decide. It texts them a live map of where you are, so they don't even need to download the app. After the time runs out, the map feature turns off and they cannot track your location. I use this app a lot during runs, but I also have when I need to walk alone at night. It will give you some major peace of mind knowing that a loved one knows exactly where you are.

3. Figure out what local stores have to offer

If your school is like most college towns, it is pretty close to downtown. At UW-Stout, our downtown basically cuts through campus. While it may be tempting to ask for a ride to Walmart because you know it will probably have whatever you need, check with your local stores instead. Local stores carry more products than you would think. Odds are, you can get the majority of things you need from local grocery stores, boutiques, antique shops, specialty shops and thrift stores. Since most stores specialize in what they sell, the employees are likely to be knowledgeable about products and how to use them. It's also a great opportunity to help support your college town's local economy and members of your community. It will also make you feel like part of a community, rather than a consumer at a big box retail store.

4. Learn Ride Share etiquette

When you don't have a car, one of the big stresses is finding a ride home for the weekend or breaks. Luckily, many schools offer a Ride Share program. UW-Stout has a Facebook group, as well as a Ride Share app. I was a little hesitant the first time I had to find a ride home as a freshman, but I ended up getting a ride with an extremely friendly upperclassman who gave me the ins and outs of life at Stout and living in Menomonie. Ride share boards aren't only a great way to meet people outside of your normal realm of classes and student organizations, but it will also save you money. If you need a ride home, make sure to post about it early and offer to help pay for gas. Many people offering rides may not read your comment, so monitor the board for people driving to or past your hometown. Also make sure to coordinate who will pick you up, where and what time. Remember to use boards connected to your college or university and that the person you are riding with is a student.

5. Check your school and city's bus routes

UW-Stout not only has a route that will take you around campus, but also one that visits different locations around town. You can also download an app that tells you where the bus is and how long it will take to get to certain stops. If you're taking the campus bus, try to get get to the stop early as it fills up fast, especially during the winter. The Menomonie route takes over an hour to make a full loop, so it gives you just enough time to shop. Some state systems also have buses that will take you around the state. If you can't get a ride home on Ride Share, check with some local bus companies and see if they're making a stop near your hometown.

Going to college without a car can make getting around a little more tricky, but it's not impossible. See what resources are available to you and always trust your gut in an uncomfortable situation.