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Driving in a Foreign Country

Submitted by on December 7, 2008 – 8:50 pmOne Comment

Road in IrelandJake’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.

RV in New ZealandIf 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.

One Comment »

  • Jake says:

    The moment it became clear to me that I might have gotten in over my head in Romania was the second day I was there. We left our Pension in Brasov in our incredibly tiny car and we are on our way to Castle Bran. I’m on a two lane road and I see ahead of me four cars traveling abreast. I started looking around, because if this was a two lane one way street, where was the other direction? Looking for the other direction road, I almost got into an accident as the answer became clear. It wasn’t a one-way road at all. The two cars in the left lane suddenly jerked back to the right side, one in front and one behind the two cars already muscling next to each other in the right lane. A second later a few cars traveling in the opposite direction sped by in the left lane, so the road DID go both ways. I had gotten used to two cars sharing a lane the day before and driving in other countries. Four cars, all next to each other, using both sides of a two way street, was something I had never seen before.

    Not my most stressful driving experience, that was in Jamaica. It really isn’t that easy to drive an American made vehicle in a country that uses British Rules of the road, that’s all I’ll say now.

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