Adventures on the Left Side of the Road.

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Here in the U.S., as in most places, we don’t usually drive sober on the left side of the road.  One can argue the validity of both ways (Left v. right, not sober v. drunk.  We are all pretty united on the latter), but I think this map speaks for itself.

Map of countries with Right-Hand Traffic v. Left Hand Traffic.  Red= Right, Blue= Left

The red countries drive on the right side of the road, and the blue on the left side of the road.  With a few exceptions (the U.S. being one of them) it’s basically former and current British territories.  I’ve been U.K. several times (though this was my first time in Scotland) and was of course aware that they drive opposite the U.S., but I’ve never attempted it myself.  I did have a brief foray into left side of the road driving in Tanzania, but that was nothing compared to the narrow winding roads I encountered as I made my was from Glasgow into the Scottish Highlands.  Oh, and of course it was raining!

Those elements do not make for a great first day in a new country, and as it turns out, there’s a lot more car to your left over there.  So, my first hours in Scotland were spent on the side of the road waiting for a new tire to replace the one the horrible curb in the round-a-bout popped.

Now for some product placement that I’m not getting paid for, but probably should.  Having T-mobile’s international plan saved the day!  So did Avis.  I have a feeling it may not work out like this in the States based on the time this exact thing happened to a friend and me in the States and I was ask if we “just picked up a nail or totally destroyed it” then was told we may be charged for the tire, but here I just called Avis and waited in the car for a new tire to be delivered.  After about an hour a man in a rain coat showed up and changed the tire no questions asked!

Stuck on the side of the road in Scotland.  Thanks to this guy for bring me a rescue tyre!

This is the only photo I got of my tyre knight.  As I said, it was cold and rainy and this guy was super nice and insisted I stay in the car.  After he was done, I signed some paper work and never heard about it again.  A small set back, but I was back on the road to the Highlands!
Obviously, this was inconvenient at best after an international flight, so I consoled myself with my first fish and chips of the trip.Fish and Chips in Scotland

All is well that ends well I suppose, and this ended with an amazing first visit to Scotland.  We got off to a rocky start, but after a while I got the hang of it and by the time it was over it was hard to say goodbye the Cactus.

The Cactus - My favorite Scotitsh rental car

I’m going to add this too, I love traveling and experiencing different cultures.  I’m so glad that everywhere you go is a little bit different, but if you have to paint this on your streets,

If you have to paint this on your streets, you're driving wrong.

you may be doing driving wrong.


Anybody else have any harrowing tales from a time you drove on the opposite side of the road?

23 thoughts on “Adventures on the Left Side of the Road.

  1. […] The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition is the original and came recommended by Colin Mairs at Excursion Scotland, so that was my first stop.  In fact, it was my first stop in all of Scotland, and I almost didn’t make it.  I was just thrilled that Scottish roadside assistance got me back on the road so quickly after my pretty dumb (but totally understandable) auto mishap. […]

  2. Hah, very brave! Glad you succeeded!
    Erica recently posted…9 Things That Happen When You Marry A (South) CalifornianMy Profile

    • Mags

      I’d call it a partial succeed, but thank you!

  3. It took me so long to get used to driving on the opposite side of the road when I moved to Southeast Asia that I gave up! I take public transportation or a taxi. I can’t tell you how many times I head for the taxi driver door when he/she comes to pick me up…even 6 years later!!!
    Marie recently posted…10 Reasons Why A Trip To Thailand Should Be On Your Bucket ListMy Profile

    • Mags

      haha! I hear you. I never get used to it. I loaded my bags into the driver’s seat so many times when I was stay with a friend in Tanzania.

  4. Mar

    I once drove on the wrong side of the highway getting out of the airport in perth, Australia, when the three of us, my two friends and I, were tired of a long day driving and just did what felt right… what a terrifying experience 🙂
    Mar recently posted…The 9 best things to do in Luang PrabangMy Profile

    • Mags

      That’s the ultimate fear! The roads in the Scottish highlands are so narrow its hard to tell which side you’re driving on!

  5. Unique experience. and loved the informative world map.
    Himanshu recently posted…Quick View: Self Drive Road Trip to Spiti Valley, Himachal, IndiaMy Profile

    • Mags

      Certainly unique! I need a little more practice on the left side, not to mention driving manual!

  6. Remember for driving in the UK – The left side is the right side, and the right side is the wrong side… simple !! 😀
    Dave from Daves Travel Pages recently posted…Ancient Agora Sightseeing Tips – Discover AthensMy Profile

    • Mags

      haha. I love it, but we’ll have to agree to disagree!

  7. When we were in South Africa, both my husband and I tried it and he turned out to be the better left-side driver. Could be because he’s left handed, or could be that I just couldn’t make my mind adjust to turning into the correct lane. I had to ask him which lane every time.
    Laura Lynch recently posted…Seattle’s Top 12 Best RestaurantsMy Profile

    • Mags

      After driving one way for so long it becomes second nature! You forget how difficult driving actually is!

  8. I remember my first experience driving on the opposite side of the road in Ireland. It took awhile to get the hang of it, especially driving a standard.
    Lesley recently posted…The Lion King Musical is Bucketlist WorthyMy Profile

    • Mags

      I still can’t drive standard! It’s so embarrassing and makes renting cars abroad so so so much more difficult. That may be my new year’s resolution this year!

  9. Wow thats awesome that Avis just came and changed it for you – we recently picked up a nail in the car when driving remotely through Alaska, and we freaked that we would get charged for the tire. We found a guy who did a $30 path for us so the rental company didn’t ever have to know 😀

    • Mags

      Haha. That’s the way to do it. They are not as nice about it in the States. I had a flat, that was not at all our fault, just a blow out, with my friend in Florida and the guys at Dollar Rental Car were so mean to us!

  10. Mia

    I lived in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. for a while and I had to learn how to drive on the left side of the road. I was terrified because I was driving a friend’s car and I thought I was going to crash. Luckily, I made it to the beach and back in one piece. It takes some getting used to though.
    Mia recently posted…Bottles & Bridges in San Francisco, CaliforniaMy Profile

    • Mags

      It was a nerve wracking first day to be sure. You do get used to it after a while though.

  11. I had no idea there are countries with driving on left side of the road in Africa and South America! Thanks for something new 🙂
    Oliwia | The Ollie recently posted…What is the cheapest way to climb Kinabalu?My Profile

    • Mags

      I know. It’s definitely something I used to just associate with the U.K. and Australia, but turns out there are countries doing it wrong all over the world 😉

  12. […] checking out Airth Castle if you’re in the area.  The value for the price is unbeatable and if you have a car it’s easy access to Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Stirling.  Staying in a castle, with or without […]

  13. […] only had 3 days in Auckland this time, and figuring out how to tackle the mountainous terrain, on the left side of the road, in a car that may end up being manual, was not on the itinerary.  That’s where InterCity […]

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