DARE TO DRIVE?
Right (or wrong) side of the road?
The most daunting thing about driving in Europe is you must drive on the right hand side of the road. Sounds simple, right?
Most of the time it is. The steering wheel of your hire car is on the left hand side of the car to remind you every time you hop in, but after 50 years of driving on the left, it’s quite an adjustment. It’s not so much a case of teaching an old dog new tricks, but teaching an old dog a trick that is the exact opposite of the trick she already knows.
Tips for baby boomers – Driving in Europe
Most of the highways around Europe are two-lanes so you don’t have to worry about being on the wrong side of the road. The fast lane (or the very fast lane in some countries) is always on the left, closest to the median strip, and you must overtake in this lane.
Always check your rear view mirror to make sure there’s not a Speedy Gonzales approaching at 180km an hour (or more!)
Always check when overtaking a truck that there’s not another truck in front of him that he decides to overtake at the same moment you are overtaking him! No one (except tourists like you) indicates to overtake.
Be prepared for trucks and lots of them- you may have to overtake ten or even twenty at once. Stay calm and be assertive!
Tips for baby boomers – Hiring a car to drive in Europe
Hire a car through a recognized company if you want a hassle-free holiday. I have hired through both Avis and Europcar and found both offer excellent service. Plan a circular route as it may costs thousands more for a different drop off point. Obviously, compare prices before you book.
Book the lowest class vehicle that will fit you (and your luggage) in comfortably because you will almost always be upgraded to a bigger, better model or even given your choice of vehicle.
Don’t plan on hiring an automatic though as they are extremely rare in Europe, and consequently five times the price of a manual. If you are hiring for more than a month, it may be worthwhile looking to lease rather than rent. Citroen, Peugeot and Renault all have lease options.
If you want real adventure, go for the cheapest! This advice only applies if you’re hiring a car for day trips. I hired a car from a lovely lady in Brasov. It was very, very cheap so I wasn’t surprised when we had to limp home as one of the wheel-bearings had given up. We sounded like an earthmoving machine driving back into town!
More tips for baby boomers driving in Europe
I have also written about other important tips when driving in Europe – Essential Tips For Baby Boomers When Driving in Europe. You should also check that out!