The first time that we went to England we were so excited to be going to a different country! It was so thrilling to think of all the new experiences and people that we would meet! The new culinary adventures that we would expose our taste buds to. The massive amounts of history that we would see. For history lovers who grew up in a state in America where 50 years is considered “old”, going to a place that has centuries of history made us almost giddy! We made our travel list, what to pack, what not to pack, found and booked our unique lodging accommodations, picked up some Euros before we left our home state. Thought we had dotted every “I” and crossed every “T”…. key word is “thought”.
The flight was great. There was so much to do on an international flight! There were movies to watch, video games to play, all for free! They even fed you a decent meal! The plane had larger seats with pillows and blankets so you were comfortable, as far as planes go, to sleep. when we landed we were well rested and ready to hit the ground running!
Yea!! We landed! We were all so excited! We collected our luggage and made it through customs with no problems and went to collect our rental car. We had rented a nice mid-sized car that the four of us could fit in comfortably in addition to our luggage.
We were pleased with ourselves for having planned so well and with the car we choose…. until we got inside of it. That is when we realized our first mistake. The steering wheel was on the other side of the car! On top of that, it was a standard! We had not driven a standard since we were in high school!
To say that we were out of our element was an understatement! Not only were we lurching forward in jerky stop and go movements, we were also stalling and trying to restart the car as it lurched forward again just to stall, again! And we had not even gotten out of the parking lot yet!! And the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car for us! All the mirrors are in the wrong spot! Yup, a bit embarrassing.
Well, we made it out of the parking lot and on the freeway. It felt like we had just jumped from the frying pan into the fire! Cars were flying past us on the right side instead of the left side of the car, we (really, my husband) had to shift with the left hand instead of the right! Oh the chaos! Our children were hiding their heads mumbling, “we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die!”. After a few miles we (again, my husband) quickly became adjusted and the kids came out from hiding.
Lesson learned! Not only do you need to verify that you do or do not need a visa to visit a country, but you also need to verify what side of the road they drive on! Another a tidbit of advise…. pay close attention to the type of car you are renting, standard or automatic, and that you are comfortable with that driving mode.