Well we handed back the car. Our Hyundai Sonata served us very well. We loved having the Apple Car Play so we could use our phones as a sat nav that came up on the car display. Saved many a navigational argument.
Some thoughts from two Brits about driving in the USA:
- Don’t rely on road signs to know where you’re going. They do exist but they tend to be at the junctions, or so close to them you’re in the wrong lane with no time to move. To those used to really clear signage, particularly on motorways, it’s incredibly stressful.
- Cruise control is your friend. It stops you speeding excessively by mistake and also stops you slowing down out of terror which makes it worse (especially on the freeway when a giant truck is undertaking).
- Trucks don’t go slower than normal traffic and they don’t seem to obey speed limits. There’s none of this being limited to 55mph or anything. A massive truck laden with a huge load of timber will overtake you at 75 when the speed limit is 65. They just do.
- You will see weird things while driving. Person quad biking along the grass verge of a busy highway. Giant piece of machinery stuck under a bridge. Terrifying trucks. Dead Armadillos. Huge churches. Endless advertising signs that are too small to read. Abandoned cars on the side of the freeway.
- Be decisive and just change lanes when you need to. Americans just change lanes whenever, often without indicating. You have to be assertive or you will miss your exit.
- The traffic light system makes no sense. Red lights mean stop, unless you are turning right when you can go if it’s clear. Green lights mean go, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t also a green light for pedestrians crossing that street you’re turning into.
- Parking in city centres is insanely expensive if you’re not careful. Shop around if you can. Example – parking at our hotel in New Orleans (thankfully we don’t need it as we handed the car back already) is $42 for 24 hours.
- Occasional swears are inevitable.
We were sad to have to drop off the car in the end. We had just started getting into the driving and relaxing rather than being terrified the whole time. Would have been lovely to carry on to more places, but time ran out. So off to the Big Easy instead.