I have a recurring nightmare.
I’m driving in the city in bumper to bumper traffic, hyperventilating from claustrophobia.
There’s no petrol, and I have no idea what I’m going to do. And then as I start moving again, it becomes clear the brake pedal doesn’t work. I put my foot down as hard as I can, but I just keep moving faster and faster towards the car in front of me.
I know the dream is probably a metaphor for a complete lack of control – a manifestation of some deep-seated anxiety. But it’s also about driving in the goddamn city and feeling stuck.
After many years of near panic attacks, being trapped in a lane that hasn’t moved in 15 minutes for no reason, surrounded by construction work and nonsensical yelling, I had a very different experience when I tried a Toyota Hybrid for the first time.
As I drove through the city in a car I didn’t even know existed, I came up with some incredible hacks to turn city driving fear into something that looks and feels more like confidence. Here’s what I came up with:
1. ALWAYS be listening to a podcast.
Never ever let yourself listen to the sounds of the city because it is unequivocally bad for the soul.
The man next to you just stuck his head out the window and shouted a sentence that was somehow exclusively expletives? It would be impressive if it wasn’t so uncomfortably aggressive.
There’s drilling. There’s beeping. There’s someone else’s car radio up far too loud, playing a song that sounds like it should only be played in a nightclub at 4am.
Unless you’re driving a Toyota Hybrid. They are silent. You can hear virtually nothing from outside and the car itself never sounds like it’s actually… on. When I first drove the Hybrid, I was convinced I hadn’t pressed the button properly or something because the engine didn’t make a peep when in electric mode. But that’s just how they work.
So chucking a podcast on in this car is like being inside some sort of soundproof cinema.
Being trapped in the city isn’t so stressful if you can maximise efficiency. One afternoon, I entered the car knowing the bare minimum about US President Donald Trump, and left with a bloody PhD in the life of one of America’s sleaziest businessmen.
I have an absurdly deep knowledge of anything true crime. From interviews, to news of the day, to comedy, to audio books, driving in the city has become of the most productive and calm periods of my life.
Oh. And I also recommend Mamamia Out Loud, but I’m probably being a little bit biased.
2. Check. The. Fuel. Gauge.
My twin sister ran out of petrol in peak Sydney traffic on one of the city’s busiest roads about a month ago, and she is still traumatised. However much petrol you think you’ll need – double it.
Or consider a car with a better fuel economy. In test driving a Toyota Hybrid I was astounded by how the fuel gauge legitimately never appeared to move. It can actually take two to three days for it to budge at all in this car. That’s less anxiety for me (win) and my wallet.
The city is full of stopping and starting at lights and crossings – so anything that saves fuel at these moments is helpful. But…don’t you need to plug it in? Nup, the battery charges as you drive, using the engine or energy from when you decelerate or brake. Life changing.
Guy Sebastian feels what I’m talking about. Check this out:
3. Allow yourself double the travel time…so you can breathe.
If there’s one thing worse than driving in the city, it’s driving in the city when you were meant to be somewhere 25 minutes ago.
Prepare to be early. Because no amount of shortcuts, or cursing or tapping your foot up and down is going to get you there any faster.
And you know what makes you particularly late? An accident. Or being pulled over by the police. Or some road closure that was exactly the route you were going to take. Best to just take your time, and don’t arrive where you need to be all frazzled.
When I was driving the Toyota Hybrid back to its drop-off point, I felt pretty stress-fee in this smooth drive. With the absurdly comfortable leather-accented interiors and roominess, I actually enjoyed being in the car.
4. Stash those emergency snacks.
Nuts. Chips. Gum. Fruit. Whatever it takes.
If you're a nail biter like me, you'll leave the car with sore fingers, so snacks are very much preferred. You're incensed enough without being hungry, and who knows, you might be stuck in your car for hours in which case you will most definitely starve to death.
In the Hybrid, I had plenty of room for my bags of chips that always seem to follow me around (no judgement, OK?). Make sure you check the expiry date on your snacks - you don't need to stop as much at the servo in this car.
With these four hacks, driving in the city doesn't have to be a nightmare. Make the car your space - and don't let the bustle of the city mess with you! Enjoy it instead.
What's your ultimate tip for city driving survival? Share with us below.
This content was created with our brand partner Toyota Hybrid.