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Old 12-31-2012, 06:35 PM
 
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I've gotten to the point where going on a foreign vacation almost always includes a rental car. However, these locations drive on the right side of the street, as does the U.S. (Italy, Spain, France, and Portugal). In Spain's Canary Islands and Portugal's Madeira, you NEED a car because public transit is bad to nonexistent when it comes to off-the-beaten-path rural areas and vistas.

Struggling with crossing streets and getting into the wrong side of the car in the UK, these places are less enticing to me. In places such as the UK, Ireland or "Down Under," I would want a car. However, I wonder how long it would take to get acclimated to the inverted layout ... and whether it would be worth it.

On a few occasions, I have seen cars on the West coast driving toward me, in the same lane, and then they make a quick correction to get to the other side. It is in the middle of the day. When they pass, they are not drunk, but they look "foreign."

Would you rent a car in a country where they drive on the opposite side of the street? Or would you forgo that tourist destination altogether?
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:45 PM
 
Location: North Idaho
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Sure. Not only that, but I've traveled from Britain to Europe and back again switching sides every time I cross the channel.

The traffic circles take some getting used to, going around in "the wrong direction". Some people have a problem crossing the street on foot, but if you look both ways, you should be OK.

Seriously, don't pass up an opportunity to go to England or Scotland, especially Scotland. Focus your attention while you are driving and don't go down the road daydreaming or texting. It is not all that confusing.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:18 PM
 
Location: Texas
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We rented a car and drove all over England, Wales and Scotland. The only time the "opposite" side of the street driving was a problem took place on round-abouts (known as traffic circles in this area). Those were tough but we survived and so did the car.

It's lovely to drive around in a rented car. You can stop whenever you want to and somehow seeing the countryside is so much nicer.
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:49 AM
 
Location: Gorgeous Scotland
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I moved to Scotland after having driven in the US for 30 years. I got used to driving on the left fairly quickly. The fact that you are sitting on the other side of the car which puts you next to the centre line in the road on a two lane road normally keeps you from wanting to drive in the other lane. Overtaking is a bit scary the first time as is your first right turn.

Learn the rules of multi-lane roundabouts before you come. I didn't do that when I visited Ireland - first time out of the US - and had a couple of scary moments in Cork City and Dublin.

How to deal with Roundabouts in the UK
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Old 01-01-2013, 05:37 AM
 
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I have driven in both Australia, Israel and the USA. But I did spent 2 years as a child in England. So perhaps that is why it was easier for me to adjust to driving in Australia (which is the opposite of driving in the USA and Israel).
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:16 AM
 
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We generally use public transit and cabs for the now and then that a train/bus/ferry would be inconvenient. If there was someplace we wanted to go where we couldn't get around via mass transit, we'd rent a car. Except in Rome. Scariest driving in the world. Makes NYC, the Caribbean, the rest of Europe seem like a countryside drive.
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:55 AM
 
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I was just in New Zealand for a month and rented a car while there and in my 20 years of driving, this my first time driving on the "other side" of the road. I only needed an hour or so to get used to it. The traffic circles didn't bother me at all, my bigger concern was 4-way intersections (non-roundabouts) in cities.

New Zealand has a small population (4.4 million) and a quarter of that lives in the Auckland area, so a majority of the drivers, outside there, seem to be tourists in either rental cars or camper vans. I did pass some slow moving vehicles, both trucks and cars/camper vans (bloody tourists!), so I got to drive on the right side, for a wee bit.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annerk View Post
We generally use public transit and cabs for the now and then that a train/bus/ferry would be inconvenient. If there was someplace we wanted to go where we couldn't get around via mass transit, we'd rent a car. Except in Rome. Scariest driving in the world. Makes NYC, the Caribbean, the rest of Europe seem like a countryside drive.
I have been to Rome and I can tell you that driving in China is far scarier than Rome (even crossing the street as a pedestrian in China is scarier than any other place that I have been).
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:25 AM
 
Location: Upper West Side, Manhattan, NYC
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My first foray into that was in British Virgin Islands. It's hilarious because it takes you a minute to be like "I should be on the left" because you're so used to driving on the right. Funny though, it actually made sense on those islands for this...there are some ridiculous roads/hairpin turns and what not and I was thinking how some of the roads wouldn't work if you had to drive on the right side.

It took me more time to get used to roundabouts though. Those confused me at first, but after awhile it's not that bad
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Old 01-01-2013, 12:29 PM
 
Location: London
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Living in NYC, I've learned to get around using mass transit and cars never factor into me when visiting major cities. However I was in London last year and was going to take a day trip to the derby at Epsom Downs. I decided to go for it and rent a car, although I was a little nervous about driving on the left. I ended up cancelling that day trip because my companion didn't want to go...but no, left-side driving would not stop me from visiting a country whatsoever.

I've wondered though, if the police in those countries would have any sympathy for a tourist who is driving weirdly or hesitantly because he/she isn't used to being on the left.
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