I have partnered with car2go to share this story of my experience driving for the first time in 10 years and conquering my fear of driving. Yes, I was a travel blogger who didn’t drive.
We don’t own a car. This isn’t unusual for city dwellers, and in our case we don’t have anywhere we need to drive regularly. Our families are in Maine, New York, London, and Singapore – not exactly the types of places we can drive to. We don’t know anyone in the suburbs so we don’t have many reasons to go out there. Even though we don’t need a car on a regular basis, not having a car can be so limiting.
In the past, when we wanted to get out of the city for a quick getaway we needed to go downtown to a car rental company. This required lugging our bags downtown, and inevitably waiting at least 20+ minutes before we got the car. And since we were downtown we were right in the thick of Chicago traffic adding even more travel time to our journey. The car rental process meant that our relaxing weekends away started with a bunch of hassle. We have honestly declined invitations in the past just because renting a car is so much effort.
The big joke of the Graham family is that I am a bad driver. But, I never really needed to drive. In high school my sister Kelly drove me everywhere. Yes, she is 14 months younger and got her license first just because I didn’t want to take (and possibly fail) the test. When I did get my license and drive, it was just around my tiny hometown in Maine. I never got comfortable driving on the highway or going too far from home.
When I moved to New York City and then Chicago I didn’t need to drive. And slowly the years added up and 10 years went by. Charles has been campaigning for me to start driving for years, but somehow I always snuck out of it. When car2go emailed me about this collaboration I took it as a sign. It was time. I need to start feeling comfortable behind the wheel.
Charles and I crafted a plan of going to Lake Geneva for an overnight trip, and I agreed that I would drive (under his supervision). My reward for conquering my fear of driving would be a relaxing weekend away. Luckily the ease of using car2go seemed to encourage me.
car2go is Chicago’s first and only free-floating car service. Free-floating means that you don’t need to pick up and return the cars from set locations. Instead, there are 400 affordable, eco-friendly car2go Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA waiting for consumers in parking spots all over Chicago. Since there aren’t designated locations for returning the cars, car2go is a convenient option for people who need to make a one-way trip.
You can view, locate, and reserve car2go cars using the mobile app. The cars will be either in a designated car2go space or just in residential permit areas. When Charles and I were ready to leave for Lake Geneva, I just opened the app and was pleasantly surprised to see that there were two cars just 2 ½ blocks from our home in Old Town.
Once I got to the car I entered the code on the windshield and the doors unlocked. We grabbed the keys out of the glove box and off we went. The entire process was easy, seamless, and it took just a minute. The headache of going to a car rental place and waiting in line disappeared. Plus – the car was way nicer than a typical rental car.
car2go has a fleet of Mercedes-Benz CLAs and GLAs. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that a new Mercedes is much easier to drive than the ’98 SUV I drove in high school. The technology has changed so much! The car we rented has rear cameras, sensors on the side mirrors that let you know when a car is getting close to you, and it is eco-friendly. It was an easy and enjoyable car to drive.
Now that I drove to Wisconsin – on the highway – I feel like I have gained some independence. We also got to finally stop at the Mars Cheese Castle for the first time ever. I had no idea that the place is so huge! We feasted on fried cheese curds with ranch and Charles said it was everything that he hoped it would be.
Our next stop was Lake Geneva where we spent a relaxing afternoon playing Scrabble poolside before exploring the town. It was the ideal way to get out of the city and to enjoy the summer weather.
I feel like I am on a roll. I definitely don’t want to buy a car and take on all the cost and responsibility that comes with it, and I love the fact that car2go has cars parked and waiting right in my neighborhood.
I want to get in some more driving practice so that I get to the point where I am comfortable driving on my own, so we are planning some more trips outside Chicago. This fall we plan to visit apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and some Frank Lloyd Wright homes. I will get to see some local landmarks while working my way up to driving solo.
If you want to give car2go a try, you can register here and get $15 of credit using code: CHIHTL. Fuel, parking, insurance and maintenance are all included when you rent with car2go. Plus, there are no monthly or annual fees making this an affordable option for Chicagoans.
Oh, and I would love recommendations for places that I can explore! Send me some suggestions in the comments!
This post was sponsored by car2go, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Kittchen possible.