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.
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.
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!
photo: Stuart Seeger via Flickr
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