One Way to Prepare for the UK

Prepare to drive on the wrong side of the road in the UK
I will travel far and wide in Europe this summer and will drive during part of the trip.

No big deal, right? I drive all the time. But I’ve never driven in the UK where they drive on the wrong side of the road. Whoa.

Why am I freaking out?

It always takes me a while to get used to doing something new. Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a spazz. My tennis coach used to take my arm and move it through the motion of every new stroke. When I tried Zumba, I was shamed by the elderly ladies dancing the Samba for the first time.

Don’t get me started about my left hand. I never know what it’s doing. Just last night, I held a key in my hot little left hand and forgot about it.

“Where’s the key?” asked my husband, Danny.

“I don’t know, ” I said. Then I looked at my totally lame left hand. “Ha! Here it is!”

The first time I ever drove, my dad sat in the passenger seat while we crossed the street to the humongous school parking lot. Only one car parked in the lot that Saturday afternoon. I had tons of room in which to take my maiden voyage in our Buick. I took long, slow practice turns around the lot. That one car frightened me. I closed my eyes to mere slits and cringed every time I drove past. At one point, I pointed our station wagon in its direction and drove at ramming speed. My dad wrenched my grip on the steering wheel so I wouldn’t plow into it! In my defense, the Law of Attraction came into play. It was a pretty nice Ford Pinto.

How would I get used to driving without closing my eyes to oncoming traffic?

I got a BRILLIANT idea!

Youtube driving simulators.

The first video was a driver’s test in Halifax. It started out with everything and more. Soon I took right turns into the left hand lane, (in my head) like a pro. I enjoyed the tense banter between student and instructor too.

Then I had a WTF moment. The student driver took a right hand turn onto a street where the cars parked toward her on both sides of the road. It was a ONE WAY STREET! She would fail for sure. I waited for the retribution. And I waited. Nope. The driver’s ed teacher kept quiet as they continued as if nothing happened.

My Eureka moment:

Crazy Brits park any which way they want! (Apologies to my British friends.) Sometimes they all park into oncoming traffic. Why? Now I have to watch for one-way signs at every corner!

It lost me after a boring parallel parking lesson.

I found second video recorded in The Cotswolds for treadmill or spin classes. The classical music soothed my virtual white knuckles. Then streets narrowed and a car approached. I focused on the music as the driver pulled over to the side of the road to let the other car pass. What a concept!

After a few minutes with both videos, my confidence soared. I’m sure I’ll drive like a pro after these unintentional tutorials. I hope I don’t get mixed up while running errands in Boulder…

Have you driven in the United Kingdom? Have you ever driven down the wrong side of the road? Do you like road trips?

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92 thoughts on “One Way to Prepare for the UK

  1. I have not driven in England. I’ve walked my feet off there however. We only rode in a real car once. Always used mass transit. Wow, what a different world in London where few folks have cars. People should be so fit. Quite a change from here in the USA where we hop in cars for every need. In all fairness, I’m not sure how feasible walking from suburbia to shopping centers would be. Or how safe.

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    • We are delayed in Reykjavik. I noticed that many people WALK on the wrong side of the “road.” Ha!
      In London, the problem is the number of subway stops. You never have to walk! Paris stops can a pretty good distance apart. I wish we had more subways in the US and probably won’t even see light rail in Boulder.
      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

      • We have a short light rail here in Charlotte. It goes from south Charlotte to uptown. Gets people who can afford panthers tickets safely from home to the stadium and back. Good start. Now expanded on around to the university area so college kids can get safely back and forth from uptown city life. We’re in the big league now. But you still have to drive a good distance to get to a station. Somehow not the same as in Pedestrian friendly London or Paris. We have massive suburbs here. And we all adore our independence with our cars. And so we “take walks around the neighborhoods for exercise.” Good luck in Boulder.

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    • Hahaha! Danny already made a comment about my left hand today and we’ve only just started the trip. Lots of time for my hand to wander off somewhere. I can’t imagine learning shift all over again with my left. Thank God, we’ll be using an automatic shift. Yay!
      Thanks, Ray!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are so resourceful, Susie! I drove all over Ireland on a trip with my father before he died, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought to drive on the other side of the road. The tricky driving I’m doing these days is on narrow rutted mountain roads where I pray not to meet a car coming the other direction!

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    • Thank you!
      You be careful out there in the wilderness, Gail! It looks like a Wild Ride!
      I don’t think it will be too hard, but I definitely think the videos helped. Ha! That sounds like a lovely memory. I’m glad you got the opportunity to spend time with your dad!

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  3. I was under the impression that we Brits drive on the right side of the road and everyone else was doing it differently 😉

    I lived in France for years and the first time my husband drove us to England, I spent the ferry crossing drumming into him NOT to come off the ferry on the ‘wrong’ side of the road…which he did…then snarled up London traffic giving way to people who wanted to get on to the roundabout, not off it… Terrifying….

    My advice? England will be fine, just don’t attempt the Parisien Peripherique 😉

    Have a great trip.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wait, you’re coming to the UK! When? Which part? When I moved to Vegas I was worried about driving on the other side of the road but I very quickly adapted, driving on the other side of the road isn’t too bad because you’re going with the traffic, it’s sitting on the other side of the car that’s hard because your personal (i.e. not the car) position on the road between the lines shifts and that’s what took a bit of getting used to for me. I may have have knocked the wing mirror once…or three times. But wait, you’re coming to the UK! When? Which part?

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      • Oh I’ll have a look at that post in a bit. I’ve been absent again from blogging for a while, I just happened to glance on my reader the other day and spotted you mentioning the UK! Hey, you know what, maybe I will come to the Blogger’s Bash! When I looked at it before (in response to you mentioning it in your post) I thought it was the Sunday which I can’t do, but I can do the Saturday. I’ll see if tickets are still available 🙂

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  5. Driving on the lefthand side of the road wasn’t as tricky as driving around a roundabout while staying in the lefthand lane. That’s what about did me in. Fortunately once we got beyond London area, those roundabouts were fewer– and the whole experience was fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. No, because I didn’t have my American driver’s license when I went to Ireland AND I didn’t know how to drive stick. It’s a weird sensation riding as a passenger, though, let me tell you! And then I got off the plane home SWEARING I wouldn’t get into the wrong side of the car, and I did anyway! (*facepalm*)

    )O(

    I once had a crush on an actor that lived most of the time in Spain and part time in England, so I fantasized that he’d drive there and I’d drive in Spain (since they drive on the right) if we could find a car with automatic. In an ideal world, that’s how it would be. 😉

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    • I LOVE those ideal worlds.
      I know what you mean since we’ve been to England twice and Ireland before this trip. I white knuckled the dashboard while Danny drove. Ha! It’s hard when you’re not in control. Scotland has a much lower population and hope less drivers will be on the road. We’ll soon see how it goes, like this afternoon! We are in Reykjavik waiting for our last flight! Woohoo!
      Construction is underway at our house and it’s miles away.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I drove on the wrong side of the road last year in South Africa with my daughter. I told her to keep reminding me, stay to the left! Funny moment when I had to do a turn around in a parking lot & upon my exit I automatically pulled up into the right lane. A very frustrated person trying to get into the parking lot gave me the stare down at which point my daughter through her hysterical fits of laughter stated, Mom you are on the wrong side! I just gave the oncoming person an apologetic wave & a shrug of my shoulders!

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    • Oh, Wow! I just told Danny that very thing. “Make sure to remind me!” I can see where I will veer to the right. I do that when I’m walking! We’re in Reykjavik and there are a lot of people from the UK here. They WALK on the wrong side of the road. I’ve gotten a few dirty looks in the airport already!
      Nice to “see” you, Lynn!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was planning to go and had ticket and London flat booked. Then I found out that family are visiting Scotland that week. I’m very sad but will have to miss the Bash. Any chance your travels will bring you up to Scotland?

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        • I am in Scotland! We flew into Glasgow and stayed south of it for one night, then headed to Edinburgh. We are staying at the Dalhousie Castle. Very fancy and cool. Tomorrow we are heading to Perth and up to Inverness. We’ll fly out of Glasgow on Friday. Where are you?

          Liked by 1 person

  8. We had a driver in Ireland and I will tell you we were all sore the next day of being on the road. This was due to reaching for seat belts that were opposite to what we are use to as well as just getting out of the vehicle differently due to the driver being on the opposite side. Just crossing the street in Dublin was an experience the first few times and could not imagine driving in that city. The country is not much better with narrow roads, tunnels, sheep, etc.

    It is an Adventure though and Quite the Experience – Enjoy It 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    • Hey, Renee!
      Yep. Danny drove in Ireland and England twice. We nearly crashed on those roundabouts. I hope it’s not as intense in Scotland. I’ll soon find out! We’re in Reykjavik and will be driving in Scotland in a few hours! All the construction at our house is just about forgotten. Ha!
      Have a splendid weekend!

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    • Thank you so much for the kind words! You made my day! I’ll let you know how it goes. I’ll be driving only three hours from now! We’re at a layover in Reykjavik. Cool airport, but not enough seats in the small terminal. The food court is amazing though!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. i live in northern ireland (which is kind of in the uk) there are villages in Donegal i dread driving/cycling through as the locals park the cars where ever they want. Sometimes in the middle of the street to quickly get to a shop and/or chat to somebody (very slight exaggeration here)

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    • That blew my mind when I saw that in the video! I hope they don’t do that in Scotland. I’ll have a hard enough time driving as it is!
      Where are you in Northern Ireland? I’m a McCartan and my dad’s family hails from there. 🙂

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    • It’s weird, but the video stuck with me. I think it will help, but I expect it will still be a challenge. I hope there aren’t a lot of roundabouts in Scotland! Thank God, we aren’t driving in England. Ha!
      Thanks, Anneli!

      Liked by 1 person

      • We stayed right in London, the name of the hotel escapes me but I remember it was across from a park and that’s where I would run in the morning. The hotel was once frequented by playwrights way way back in the day. I’ll find out what hotel.

        Anyway, LOVED London. It was everything I imagined. Visited Piccadilly Square, Buckingham Palace, Wimbledon, London Bridge. Big Ben. I touched the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum while my then wife ran interference. Went on a Jack the Ripper tour. Shopped at Harods and watched a ton of soccer in the hotel pub whilst smoking a Cuban cigar. Loved bitters, and admittedly, that’s how I became so adept so quickly at the currency, lol.

        Hey listen, if there is any breaking news regarding a Colorado tourist, I’ll KNOW, lol.

        Have jolly good fun and be safe!

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        • Thanks, Cayman! You aren’t in NYC, are you? Stopping by on our way back.
          Sounds like a fabulous trip! I’ve been there, but never for a long enough time. In light of all the terrorism, we won’t get close to anything touristy, nor would I dare.

          We’re up in Scotland for a few more days, then into the vortex of shields and kevlar vests.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow that was stepping music, hay Susie you should practice by driving in Boulder from the passenger seat, left hand upon the wheel. My dear Sister will be visiting in Scotland in September with her friend. My Scottish is crap so I cannot pronounce the cities she’ll be visiting. My Ex was from Down Patrick then moved to Belfast when she returned to N.I.

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    • Cool!
      You cracked me up with your passenger seat idea. I’ll be driving for reals in a few hours. Wish me luck! And while I’m trying not to risk our lives, the construction will begin our house. I’m so glad we aren’t in a hotel in Boulder!

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  11. I’m pretty sure I’ve driven on the wrong side of the road a few times. I don’t know for sure because I would have been staring at my phone at that time.
    Just kidding, I never… hold on, a cop.

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  12. As a London resident and having driven in the US, I can agree that the driving experience is completely different over here! Whereabouts will you be travelling to Susie?

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    • Thanks for stopping by! Driving will feel so strange. Our adventure starts in Scotland. Then my husband, Danny and I are heading to London on Friday and will stay through Monday. Are you going to the Bloggers Bash at the Wellington? From there it’s on to Paris and then Belgium and The Netherlands. The construction workers needed a few more days on our house, so we extended the trip to go to NYC the last weekend! CRAZY set of circumstances. The links are below to fill you in. My life is always on the wild side.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve never actually been to Scotland! Looking forward to seeing an update from you! No I’m not, alas the pull of teacher training is my priority but again I look forward to reading about it 🙂 The wild side is the best side. Safe travels x

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    • Too late! I’ll be driving in less than four hours. Ha! Now that I’ve had my virtual lesson, I’m sure I’ll be A-okay. *gulp* I’ll let you know how it goes. Ha!
      Thanks for swinging by, Jan!

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  13. Coming from Australia, where they drive on the same side of the road as the Brits, to Canada where we drive on t’other side, was a huge shock to the system. Everything my instincts told me about driving was wrong … more than wrong, dangerous.

    So, my best advice would be never, never become complacent, and check everything at least twice, even if you feel a little silly. It’s better than the alternative.

    Oh yeah, and remember to breathe! 😀

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  14. As a matter of fact, I am usually the one photographing while husband drives, but last April when in Orkney, the rental group-only one, said he was “too old.” So, I drove and he didn’t take photos. The hardest thing is people telling you what to do, you’re a smart woman, just think it out in your head. Yeah, no lane lines don’t help and whatever markings on the streets of London there are, are for Taxi pros. Try in the country where people will eventually pass you and you get the whole lane again. Just think, breathe, and don’t think “opposite” (very often), just think continuous once you get going. Kind of an accomplished thrill.

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  15. Simulators – what a great idea! I haven’t driven in England, but I did in Ireland. We planned our sightseeing so when we left the airport we headed north away from the city. That way I could get my “sea legs” where it was less congested. By the time we headed into Dublin that evening I felt much more confident.

    Stay safe, my dear, and have a fabulous time.

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    • I would love to go back to Ireland. We’re in Scotland right now for a few more days, then we won’t drive again until later in month as our adventure continues!
      Thanks so much, Peg! Computer’s about to die…. no charger adapter. Oopsy…

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  18. This really made me chuckle! Rumour has it we drive on the left because back when people travelled mainly on horseback, most people would carry their spear or joust in the right hand. Riding on the left side meant that one could defend oneself from attack on the road as one could jab oncoming attackers with the weapon.

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    • It really helped! I felt more oriented to the road when I first started out. Danny ended up doing the lion’s share of driving since I ended up being a the better navigator. The Waze app was a huge asset. He’s still a map guy. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I was always so thankful whenever I saw one of those notices painted on the street to remind me to look in the opposite direction I was used to before attempting to cross the street. It still wasn’t full proof as another Ali can attest, but those signs might have just kept me alive. It was great to meet you.

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    • It was great to meet you too!
      Ha! I didn’t notice the signs, but somehow lived to tell the tale. 🙂 It was a bit disorienting in Scotland, but I made a better navigator, so Danny drove most of it. I think he found driving in Amsterdam, with its hoards of bikers and people, much more intense. At least I was white-knuckling it. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Haha, We drive on the right side of the road; that being left and not right…savvy? Not our fault you all got that wrong 😉 and that’s before I even bring up the spelling discussion that has had many a funny debate lol. Can’t knock crazy though…strange referendums and elections although maybe crazy in that context is reserved for politicians!

    I’m with Scribbles above…back in the days of yore (‘cos we also have LOTS of history and stuff, with castles and everything and even things before them!!), with most folk wielding arms with their right hands rather than left ones (not that left hands don’t have arm arms. to be clear) then it was prudent not to have to go into an affray with the weaker hand. Jousting is a good example if you ever see them, and polo. Generally the right hands are engaged with none horse controlled battering. I guess we are even ready for total apocalyptic dystopia too…in that leaning out of the window with assorted arms has us ready to call to action that latent battle hand. Obviously that relies on infinite fuel; the movies always seem to have that, and bullets too…ever noticed nobody reloads until a pause in battle despite apparent unlimited rounds fired during a scene?

    I digress, amusing and funny whilst, at the same time, rich in contentious debate lol

    Love it 🙂

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    • We aren’t the only ones who “got it wrong.” Seems you’re in he minority, old chap. Sheesh. Now I’m getting carried away. Ha!
      I don’t know much about you’re politics, but I love your word choice and spelling.
      I watched a Hitchcock movie for a while last night and the shot were way to regular. Threw me out of the scene and had to watch The Girl on the Train instead. Great movie! Have you seen it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hilarious potential dear lady! Minorities simply means not Lemming…I mean, we also work with metric units, but drink pints…minority indeed…can we settle upon quirky instead? I rather like quirky, although my caveat is not politicos, they are certainly not quirky, more….well insert an expletive and you might feel my disdain for said (insert another one!).

        No, I’ve not seen that yet, at least I don’t recall doing so. The title sounds very familiar though…must look it up now!

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  21. I need to try this!

    I have the opposite problem. I just received my Canadian licence, but I have never driven on the right side of the road so I am pretty nervous about it. What an excellent idea to watch tutorials!

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    • It totally worked! The only thing it didn’t account for was the wide boulevarded streets. I drove down one he wrong way and had to drive over the cement median. Ha! The drivers in incoming traffic laughed. Good thing for that.

      Liked by 1 person

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