Renting A Car In The United States As A European

Welcome back to the blog after a little “summer break”. It lasted a bit longer than I initially expected it to, but with all the travels, there was not as much time left as I anticipated. But now, summer is (nearly) over, and I’m ready to start again. The list of blog posts in the making is long, as is the list of things I experienced this summer, so I decided to use my time waiting for my flight from Seoul, South Korea back home and start right away.

The biggest tip of this summer – and my life so far! – was undoubtedly the road trip through Western America. I made lots of experiences, and I value them all, good and bad. It was the first time I ever rented a car abroad (despite one time in Italy, but that was only for a few hours, so it does not really count) and there are a few things I noticed in the US.

To begin with, I always suggest using a big and reliable renting agency (such as Alamo, Sixt, Hertz, ...) to avoid bad experiences. Most of the time you can cancel your reservation until a few hours before the scheduled start of the renting period, so it’s better to start looking early, and you might get lucky with the price. Also, if you are my age, you always have to pay a “young driver fee” that’s applicable for drivers between 21 and 25 years, depending on your renting agency. This can make a huge difference when comparing prices, but luckily, the saleswoman had a good day and decided to eliminate the fee from the bill, which actually saved me a few hundred dollars!

But now to the more interesting part: Driving in the US as a European!

We Europeans are used to kilometres, red lights, parking in designated areas, and using the right lane if possible. Well, in the US, there are different rules. What bothered me the most, in the beginning, were the miles. It was hard for me to “get a feeling” of how fast or slow I am going when you look at the speed, and it says 60 mph … while 60 kmh is not that fast, it’s actually around 95 kmh, so not that slow at all. But in your head, you are used to 60 being something that’s driven in cities, while you definitely SHOULDN’T drive 60 mph in a city! Actually, after a while, I adjusted really well, and after a week or two, I was feeling pretty confident driving mph.

The weirdest thing in the US: you are allowed (or obligated if you listen to the honks of the driver right behind you) to torn right even on a red light. Of course. Sometimes right turn is forbidden during red lights, but then there has to be an actual sign that says so. Otherwise, you are allowed to go right through it. Of course, you have to mind the other traffic.

Other things I was not used to – you can be parking in a parking lane and still get a fine or your car can get torn IF there is a fire hydrant too close to your vehicle. This nearly happened to me, but luckily a pedestrian brought it to my attention, as in Europe that’s not of importance. And the thing that would make my driving instructor go mad is: you don’t have to use the right lane if it’s free. You could be on a highway with five different lanes and drive in the middle one while the lane on the very right is empty. In Europe, you could get a fine for that, and I actually know people who paid up to 100 Euros for that. But at the same time, you are allowed to pass other cars while being on the right lane and that’s really strange too, as this is forbidden in Europe as well.

Also, it’s always weird to drive a different car but me and mine became friends in the end.

With this little blog post, I am starting my whole series about the entire trip, and I can’t wait to tell you everything about all the cool destinations I visited, the people I met and the wildlife I saw! You’ll be surprised how much this country has in store for you!