Travel tip: learn to drive a stick shift before traveling to Europe!

Travel tip: learn to drive a stick shift before traveling to Europe!

I hate driving, but I love road trips. Does that make any sense? Let me explain: the thought of having to drive every. single. day. makes me nuts. Listening to the same songs over and over again on the radio and sitting in a traffic jam every morning and evening sounds like hell to me. I’d much rather park myself on a subway seat, read my Kindle and listen to Spotify for 30 minutes during my commute.


But road trips are an entirely different category – a road trip is an adventure. You have the freedom take a detour to see something interesting (i.e. when I discovered the cutest town ever, Frenchtown) or stop for food when there’s a bad traffic jam. So I knew when I was planning my trip to Denmark that I wanted to rent a car and do a road trip so I could go to Odense, Ribe, Mons Klint and Aarhus without having to wait around for public transportation.

Road Trip in Denmark – Learning To Drive a Stick Shift

So I mapped out my journey, looked up car rental prices, and then realized: crap! There are no automatic cars available to rent unless I wanted to shell out some serious cash. I have never driven a stick shift before, but I wasn’t about to cancel all my plans just because of something so silly! There was only one answer: it was time to learn to drive a stick shift.

My first thought was that I’d find someone I know who has a stick shift car and have them teach me. No luck there – everyone is all automatic nowadays! My second plan of action was to rent a car with a stick shift and have my boyfriend teach me. Another fail, since I discovered we have the reverse problem in America: all our rental cars are automatic! Desperate, I turned to Google and typed in “learn to drive a stick shift New York.” And ta-da! A driving school offering lessons popped up. Proof that you should always Google first, think later.

Brooklyn Driving School Review

So this past Saturday I made my way to Brooklyn Driving School, where a very nice teacher sat with me and patiently showed me how to use the clutch and shift gears. I expected to be totally frustrated, but after an hour lesson I felt pretty confident about my stick shift driving abilities – I only stalled once! And I only got laughed at a couple times… like when I expressed my fear of stalling on the highway. Apparently that can’t happen.

The class cost $49, but to rent an automatic car would have been $200 more so in the end I saved about $150 doing it this way. Plus I have a new skill – always a plus, right?

If you’re planning a trip to Europe and are intimidated by the thought of renting a manual car, I strongly urge you to learn to drive a stick shift. I’m sure there’s a driving school in your town that offers these lessons – just Google it or give your local school a call.

Adorable little mini cars of Europe, here I come!

Fiat Car

photo: Stuart Seeger via Flickr



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  • J in Beijing says:

    Haha yes, it’s a lot harder to get automatic cars in Europe. My husband is American and he only likes automatic- they are are so much more expensive to hire. I did have to teach him how to drive manual in Argentina though (even though I don’t have a licence myself ha!). :-)

  • So Important to learn how! When I moved to India I got an Omni which is an Indian taxi van! lol My boyfriend thought it was Sooo funny. but it is manual AND doesn’t have power steering, plus dodging cows on the other side of the road. Indian roads and drivers are CRAZY. After a year, I’m now super Indian in that respect :) I’m going to add the link to my post on driving in India.. PS you’re right google first, think later. Sometimes I catch myself googling how to spell things!

  • […] else the happiest country in the world had to offer, so we set off on a Denmark road trip. I had learned to drive a stick shift the week before I left in Brooklyn and was excited to take on the challenge, but when I arrived to pick up my car at Sixt they […]

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