5 Tips for Driving in a Foreign Country

Fish and I recently took a trip to Ireland to celebrate her birthday, which happens to also be known as St. Patrick’s Day. I previously lived in Ireland for three months and fell deeply in love with the country. The lush green scenery and a laid back atmosphere that is hard to find an equal anywhere I’ve traveled. We’ve been planning the trip for months and we’ve gone back and forth on transportation.

Compared to the United States, Ireland has a lot more public transportation, which makes it much easier to explore the country. However, if we decided to take the train + buses that adds a lot of time to our travel and I wanted to show her EVERYTHING. We also discussed renting a car, but there is this little issue and I’m sure you know what it is, driving on the left.


I told Fish that we could rent a car as long as she drove. So we decided if the deposit wasn’t going to kill our budget that we would rent a car. After a very long flight (maybe I will talk Fish into doing a post on tips for flying/finding decent airfare) we ended up at the AVIS booth in Dublin, Ireland. The gal at the counter was very nice and helpful, as you will find most, if not all, Irish people are and she advised us that renting a car was well within our budget. Then came the first problem- they only had manuals for walk-up customers. You know who doesn’t drive a manual? My wife. You know who drives a manual daily? Me.

Driving Tip #1-

Don’t panic. Seriously. As long as you pay attention and of course you will because you are driving in a foreign country in a tinier car than you would ever consider purchasing and you don’t want to crash your rental. So take a breath!

Driving Tip #2-

Get familiar with the car for a minute or so before you even start it. I can’t tell you how much this helped me. If you drive a manual normally then you know how important it is to have your hands free. It rains a lot in Ireland and you need to know where the windshield wiper handle is and what all the settings do before you get on the road. I drive a 1987 Mazda B2200 and it has three settings for the wipers. The little Skoda rental we drove had a million (okay like 8).

Driving Tip #3-

Use the Drivers Manual. In my truck when I want to go in reverse I put it in reverse. Simple. In the Skoda, you had to go partially into fourth, press down on the clutch, then slide to the right into reverse. You think I found that out without the Drivers Manual? We also had a tire pressure issue and the Drivers Manual helped sort out that confusing mess!


Driving Tip #4-

Download the maps.me app and download maps for offline use. You may not have service where you are going so these are handy to have. Fish was in charge of this and did a fantastic job. I think we only got lost 7 or 8 times!

Driving Tip #5-

If you get lost or confused, follow the road signs or if none (which rarely happens, in Ireland there are so many tourist destinations that there are a lot of signs), follow the car ahead of you. The lines on the road may be much different than what you are used to and you might have to go through 1,000 roundabouts. But if you follow this tip you will make it to a gas station or store (if you’re lucky your destination) and can ask someone for help.

Hopefully these tips help you on your adventures! They certainly would have helped me on our trip to Ireland. Most importantly, just have a good time and enjoy yourself!


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