Peace and Cars

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(BTW: It’s a Pearl Harbor Day. Don’t forget to take a moment and reflect on the men and women who stand between us and danger.)

Many of us find driving very relaxing. Though it shouldn’t be a place to doze off, being behind the wheel of a car should be a relatively peaceful experience where you can forget your current woes, maybe listen to some classical music or light pop? (Of course, if you love rock-n-roll peace of mind might not be how you relax in the first place.) Something like a comic song or a discussion from talk radio might also distract, but it’s important not to forget the road altogether! Obviously stay alert, or accidents happen.

If you don’t want to employ the radio to drown out road noise you can try some gentle driving techniques make a car quieter but this means you take longer in reach your destination! There needs to be a better way.

You may have noticed that, in general, cars are getting quieter with each new model. The Green City project has spent some time trying to figure out how to make cars quieter for those inside or outside, in order to promote a more peaceful coexistence of cars in dense urban areas. They promoted an idea about reducing the sound in cities by changing tire design and adding more sound cancellation tech to new cars.

The problem is that you can’t really do much with the wind and the vibration that moving at speed is all about. It costs money to make an active difference, mechanically, though many car companies seem to be making some progress. Adding cost is a big obstacle.

So that brings us back to needing to cover up the sound. Try a download of something like whale music. Seriously, some folks swear by it. Not of fan of watery mammals? Then maybe an extract of spoken meditation will suit? Not something to make you sleep, just something to make you more comfortable.

Okay, OKAY! We have a real answer and its cheap, simple, and won’t slow down your commute. To explain it we need to look at one simple reality. Folks either find driving relaxing or stressful. Even more promising, most of us would probably say it depends on the day. So we just need to examine the forces that make it stressful one day and the polar opposite the next.

#1 Change the Situation:

Clearly, there’s a difference between a drive on a country road and sitting in traffic on the way to work. Not much you can do about your destination, right? Well, you can plan ahead. Leave a bit early and find something totally self-indulgent to do with the time you have by getting there early. Maybe sit in a coffee shop or look for a new pleasure read. Whatever it is, just make sure it’s something you can look forward to enough to jump in your car a bit ahead of the last minute.

Speaking of last minutes. Don’t add to your stress by having to make up time. You’re literally making your commute more stressful and it’s entirely in your hands to prevent it. It’s your fault you’re late and that’s good news!

#2 Examine your Options:

Whether the car doesn’t do precisely what you want, or the other drivers seem to be working hard to wreck your day, it doesn’t seem a place to relax. Well, have you checked into mass transit? We’re big fans of personal cars here, but frankly, it’s not worth dying for. If driving to work is shortening your life, consider taking a bus or train for all or part of your commute. You might save on parking and stress, and you can use the time to read or catch up on social media.

Carpooling is another way to possibly save money and time can pass more quickly when you have someone to chat with.

#3 Examine your Company:

On the opposite side of the coin from carpooling is the dreaded school run. Driving with kids can be the not-relaxing kind of conversation. You’re the adult AND the driver–it’s going to land on you to set rules and train your passengers to help not hinder.

Here are some helpful tips: getting into a routine, try to let your children know you need to concentrate on the road, not them. Try a book on CD that the whole family can get into. Or get them headphones.

If reasonable arguments aren’t working pull rank. Don’t let your kids do things that make you not like them. Remember if you battle out the rules on the way to school picking them up will be easier, not harder. Also, remember that they’ll be driving in a few years and modeling the priority of taking it seriously is going to pay off very soon.

#4 Try Silence:

Having the car in perfect quiet can act as a detox to your routine, until the next time you have to make the school run or head to a work presentation. If the rest of your life is stressful, try thinking about your time in a car as a single activity worthy of your full attention. There’s a meditation in the simple operation of the multi-thousand-pound beast surrounding you. It’s your job to at that moment to get yourself and everyone around you to their destination safely. if the rest of your life is so hectic, you may soon begin to yearn for the simplicity of driving alone in the quiet.

#5 It’s a choice:

At the end of the day, all these tips revolve around taking charge of your perspective. If you don’t like our commute, change it. If you absolutely can’t change anything else, try changing your attitude.

Many of these problems revolve around the theme of not being where you want to be. Not being at home, or being stuck in a traffic jam. Make a choice to remember that the journey is more important than the destination. It’s not just about being there instead of here, it’s about how well you do where you are right now. You can only impact the here and now. Don’t lose out on opportunities to do something well now because you wish you were somewhere else.

Whatever problem your mind is drifting back to, won’t be solved by obsessing on it. You will be home soon, or relatively soon. It’ll be fixed in a short while.

 

 

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The Truth about Renting a Car

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If you need to rent a car you’ve probably either taken a trip or had an accident. When you take a trip, and you’re footing the bill, you probably have some control over the type of car you get but when the insurance company is supplying a replacement vehicle you may discover how little input you get.

Driving a car you are not used to can be tricky, especially if it’s manual when you’re accustomed to automatic. Another curveball can come when the rental is five or eight years newer than you’ve ever driven. Many of the new bells and whistles, like autonomous driving or keyless entry, have an adjustment period.

So do what most folks never do when negotiating your insurance rate and research what the rental clause actually covers. One of our writers recently activated the loaner vehicle clause in his insurance during repairs and discovered that a “mid-sized” car is actually tiny and has only three doors.

Most Overlooked Thing

It’s important also to make note that you will need to give the car back not only when the car is fixed but alternatively when the car is considered non-repairable by the mechanic in question. It is therefore vital that you make any contingency plans (looking for cars, etc.,) while you still have access to a vehicle. While most people are optimistic that something might be done by the garage. It’s just that not having a car makes it much more difficult to shop for another car one.

Some of the more strange but somehow frequent issues while using a rental include that you’re more likely to lose your keys, you won’t recall your license plate number if you need to fill out paperwork, and not being able to fit your child’s car seat into it. Granted, these are not world-ending issues, but they stress your day if you don’t think ahead a little.

When traveling, most people default to big brands such as Hertz or Enterprise. In reality, you might be better off doing some digging on the internet to find a local company. Why choose a name you are unfamiliar with in a foreign town? Well, you might find a better deal for one thing. You might also get some good local advice, like “there is no parking for large cars in our town so we recommend our small cars” or “gas here is cheap, so why not use the largest option you can.”

If you must use an international company trying to reach a local branch directly When you reserve through the national switchboard or website you get the official rate. The local office may be slow at the time and ready to talk deals. They may also advise you on the best places in the area to visit. (PS going local is always good advice, flowers, for example, are always cheaper local than national.)

Another Tip

If you happen to be traveling you may note that airport rental companies are more expensive. This includes services that come pick you up at the airport. So one technique is to hire a rideshare to a close by the hotel. Then stand in the lobby and order your rental car delivered there. The price per day is generally worth the effort. Do a little research though because occasionally you’ll find an airport where they competition is intense and drives prices even lower than elsewhere.

Renting Trucks?

It might surprise you to know that trucks are rented a great deal more than cars, especially by huge companies. Penske and U-Haul, for example, can be found everywhere helping people move.

For those not looking to move house, but simply trying to haul a piece of equipment or load of bark dust, for example, you can often rent a pick-up truck, the most common rented vehicle of all.

A group of antique scavengers, known as “pickers,” often rent trucks instead of buying their own. This allows them to drive a more economical car while on the hunt around the country and only bring in a truck to move something big. Money is always tight when you are running a business, it seems.

There seem to be two kinds of people when it comes to rental car treatment. The more famous kind, abuse the daylights out of it, but surprisingly most people use kid gloves. Partially because we want to avoid any fees for nicks and scratches, and partially because most people treat things they don’t own with respect. If you do create a particular mess it could be worth a vacuum to avoid spending money. If you scratched the paint somehow, consider getting a little wax and buffing it out. Many tiny cosmetic issues disappear when they don’t catch the light.

Whatever your reason for renting a car it can feel good to get back behind the wheel of something you own. Life seems much more normal.