June 22, 2010

Nap Time in Naptown: IndyGo and Kids

Last January, Madeline and I took a day trip to Chicago with my sister-in-law. I thought the highlight for my then 2-year-old would be visiting Shedd Aquarium.

I was wrong.

Madeline's favorite part of the trip was riding the bus and train around the city. Ya know, the part of the day that cost only $4.

(Do not be fooled by her expression and think she wasn't enjoying the ride. When she won't smile or look at the camera, it means she's enjoying something so much that she doesn't want to show it. I know.)

But for realz, we could have driven up to Chicago, parked, rode the bus around, rode the train around, come back home and Madeline would have had the time of her life.

Here in Indy, we get around in our car or by walking the Monon. We are definitely not a cool transit-savvy family.

But since Madeline is still talking about riding the bus five months later, I thought we should have a special IndyGo day and take the bus to the library.

Image credit: IndyGo

A single ride is $1.75 and kids ages 5 and under ride for free with a paying adult so our trip only cost $3.50. If we really wanted to make a day out of it and travel to several destinations, we would have bought a day pass for $4.

And I'm telling you, if you want to slingshot an ordinary trip into something super special, just take the bus. Madeline absolutely loved riding the bus to the library and I'm planned to do this again to The Children's Museum, downtown, Castleton Mall... anywhere the wheels on the bus will take us.

But I made a few mistakes for our first trip so please learn from us and don't make them on your own.

Tip #1: Bring exact change.
The machine doesn't give back change so make sure to bring the exact amount unless you're feeling generous and want to donate $.50 to Indianapolis public transportation.

Tip #2: Bring only the necessities.
When we left the house, we were cheerfully singing VeggieTales songs on the way to the bus stop, Madeline was happily swinging and carrying her Pooh Bear and I had a nearly empty library bag. We were filled with the joy and anticipation that only the naive can demonstrate.

On the way back, I was sweating from heaving a heavy bag filled with way too many books and movies and juggling our Target drinks while repeatedly telling Madeline "since YOU wanted to bring Pooh, YOU must be the one of carry him and "stay SUPER close to Mama because I can't hold your hand."

Needless to say, we were not cheerfully singing on the way back.

Tip #3: Plan for extra time. Lots of it.
Our library is a quick five-minute drive away. When I add up the time it took to walk to and from the bus stop, ride the bus both ways, walk to and from the bus stop to the library, it turned into a 35-minute trip one way.

Riding the bus can be lots of things like economical and fun but it's definitely not efficient with those little slow walkers we call our children.

Tip #4: Know the route and times. Like, really know it.
I'll be honest, it intimidated me when I hopped on IndyGo's site to figure out the routes. I'm totally unfamiliar with bus routes and made a colossal error for our ride back which meant we sat in the bus stop for 45 minutes. Not so fun. But now I know how to read the route maps and schedule for the next time.

Because even though we weren't singing on our way back, Madeline and I loved trying this new experience and plan to do it again.

Just without Winnie the Pooh and a 50-pound book bag next time.

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