Jake’s comment on the Romania blog about how ‘driving in Romania is one hell of an adventure’ made me laugh out loud thinking of my own crazy driving adventures in foreign countries. Driving in a foreign country can often lead to some very stressful situations. Tight winding roads, that often appear to be a single lane, cling to steep mountain cliffs as cars in the opposing lane head toward you without caution. When you start heading up or down a stretch of “serpintines” you know things are about to get hairy when you see mirrors attached to sides of the earth.
My first international driving experience was a drive from Dublin to Kinsale, about an hour south of Cork, in southern Ireland. Besides taking three times longer than we had anticipated, everything was fine…until it got dark and started pouring rain. I remember driving on a very tight road with no shoulder on either side and the occasional tour bus or lorry traveling straight at us. The ten, or so, pints of Guinness tasted so good later that night at Harvey’s Bar. While in New Zealand, we decided to drive an RV around the south island. Just after finishing an eco-tour in Dunedin, where we saw blue penguins and royal albatross, we traveled onwards on a tight road of the Otago Peninsula with the bay on one side and rock wall on the other. I managed to hit a road sign with the top left side of the RV. The result was about an inch gash and a smashed parking light and to this day I stand firm that there was no where to go. …and I’m not even going to get in to what happened when I got lost in Nice and went the wrong way down a, fairly, busy one way street. However, I do remember that my wife and I didn’t eat together that night. What fun it was.
If you plan to rent a car or drive on your next vacation abroad, knowing what to expect in advance can help make for a safe and enjoyable trip. Handling a vehicle isn’t the same everywhere in the world and not only do the rules vary, but also the dangers connected with driving can be very different. For more information, have a look at the US State Department’s page on road safety overseas. If you’re really headed off the beaten path, a quick look at the Overseas Security Advisory Board’s site is a good idea. To book your rental car anywhere in the world check out BrilliantTrips.com.