My Nana is always puzzled as to why I drive a larger SUV and with rising fuel prices it is something I have questioned myself.
My car is not what I'd call a gas guzzler but it uses more fuel than your average small vehicle.
Nana drives a perfect-sized ''nana'' car – a small hatchback. It is more than sufficient to get her around town and out of it on the odd occasion she travels.
I can't imagine myself driving a small hatchback, although I did once own a Holden Barina. Back in the good old days, I could drive to Waikato University in Hamilton and back to Rotorua on just $6.
I could also fit my entire room's contents (minus the furniture) into the Barina as I transported my life back and forth between Hamilton and home.
I learnt to parallel-park anywhere in that Barina, giving me a false sense of confidence for every larger vehicle I have owned since.
Sorry future husband!
The recent fuel price rises made me think about why I still drive a much bigger vehicle these days despite the increased cost. The answer? Safety and lifestyle.
Firstly children. In the early days of becoming a step mum and then mother I drove a bigger car to fit in all the kids. With two teenage stepsons at the same time as having a newborn, we needed space.
The boot needed to fit a pram, baby bag and supplies, teen school bags and daily sports gear and enough space for at least four suitcases, surfboards, boating equipment and bikes if we went away for the weekend or on holiday.
Safety requirements for infant and children's car seats mean that if you take safety seriously, you need a decent amount of space to secure these seats safely, especially after subsequent children are born.
Two large car seats need to be tethered, secured and bolted in, to ensure my children are as safe as can be while travelling.
My teens then had to further squish into the sixth and seventh tiny seats or fight for the front seat (which often left me squashed in the boot seat if hubby was driving) until they happily gained their own car licences and could escape the "soccer mum" torture of a packed car full of kids.
Secondly space. Once my older boys moved out of home and were driving competently, we downsized back to a five-seat SUV. Safety was still paramount for car seats as was the size of vehicle for impact, in case of a crash or accident when driving, especially out on the open road.
We spend a lot of time travelling between Mount Maunganui and Rotorua and always seem to have a car packed with everyone's stuff.
The third reason is safety and size. On the odd occasion, my children ride in my Nana's small hatchback, I like to triple check I have installed their car seats for her. While I'm not (really) worried about Nana's driving, I do get a little nervous whenever my children are in a small car.
It seems to me they just really don't have the same kind of protection, technology and safety aspects of larger vehicles.
If we were in a car crash, I'd rather fancy my chances in my SUV than a smaller car.
The uncertainty around the rising fuel prices does still concern me though. As a family, we will try to walk or bike to school and work a couple of days a week in the warmer months. Although school bags, laptops and lunchboxes often outweigh the children's strength on their bikes and I end up looking more like a packhorse hiking in the Himalayas, than a fitspo* mum getting out and about to save fuel. (*Fitspo – short for fitspiration = active, strong, and fit women that promote proper exercise and diet.)
In the weekends, we bike in Rotorua for exercise and because our kids love it, stopping off at a cafe or playground to extend the adventure.
Yes, rising fuel costs stress me - but not enough to drive a small car. The feeling of safety in a big car far outweighs the cost of fuel for our family.
I drive an SUV because it meets our needs.
Just be on the lookout around town if you see me confidently trying to parallel park it, still believing inside, that I can park it as fast and accurately as my good, old, tiny Barina I once owned.
• Jane Trask is a Rotorua mother and a former dance and physical education teacher. She has a bachelor of sport and leisure studies and a postgraduate teaching diploma in PE and dance. She studied journalism as part of her university degree and she has always had a strong interest in print journalism.