Preparing to drive for the first time in America was something we could only brace for by watching some youtube videos and hearing stories from others. We knew that we had to get in control of the wheel and understand the driving differences compared to Europe from the start of our trip, as we would be using the car for 12 days on these roads!
Once we made it to Salt Lake City with the Amtrak from Denver, we headed straight with the taxi from the train at 04:00am to the airport to pick up our rental car. We had reserved in advance an SUV type car for under $600.00 for 12 days from the company Avis. Since we wouldn’t need it and technically didn’t even want to try driving it in San Francisco, which was our end destination, so a few days short of our 15 day road trip was best.
*This is part of our US Road Trip Itinerary!
It was a little hard to choose a rental company since we didn’t really see any big differences between them all. Avis was chosen based on the price of car, including all insurances, extras and the location. You can easily search for reviews on the company but we found only bad reviews get shared, with each review we read completely related to a specific car or personal problem, so it’s hard to base your choice of the reviews alone.
Picking up the documents and some last minute signing allowed us to pick up the car within 10 minutes at the desk (no line of course at 04:30am!). The friendly worker sent us down aisle D of the car park to find our rental car, a white Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.
Filled with adrenaline we were wide awake, filling the car with our bags and adjusting the mirrors and seats. Next step: I had to drive an automatic car for the first time on an already busy motorway in Salt Lake City! Luckily my partner had already some experience with an automatic car, since I had never even sat in one. Though looking back at this moment, it was pretty simple and I was more nervous than I should of been.
By 05:00am we were already driving towards our first stop, the Bourneville Salt Flats in Utah. Planning to catch the sunrise we arrived to find that there was racing planned on the salts and we could not drive on them ourselves, however still got to experience it a little on foot. Unfortunately the sun was hidden behind clouds, making the salt flats brighter than the sky, but still impressive to see! We’ve made a separate detailed post about our stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats here!
Driving through the US sure was a new experience for us both, from 6 lane motorways where cars can overtake you on both sides, to dirt tracks so bumpy that you feel like you’re coming out of your seat, to also the longest straight roads we have ever seen. Something we would definitely do again in America.. once we have some more savings!
The only thing that didn’t go so well regarding the car was that the insurance paper, which is inside the car that you must be hand over to the police if stopped. Well ours ended up being valid till October 2016 – Almost a year outdated! We noticed this after a few days and had found out that it would be a fine for up to $900.00. But after visiting a local Avis (to try and get the new dated insurance papers) we were assured that if we were stopped and fined, it would be Avis paying the fine and not us as the users. Still, it was a bit worrying when we found out until we knew for sure!
Despite that, we would choose Avis again for another road trip, unless we came across a cheaper one that included all the extras needed.
We ended our first day driving to our motel in Cedar City, Here we visited the local Walmart or supermarket to stock up on bottles of water (and some snacks) that we left in the boot of the car. This saved us money and was a good supply when we were out of water while driving in the middle of nowhere.
We both loved driving the different terrains, through storms and wide open landscape where you could see for miles! America was a great place for our 3rd road trip with a car (1st was in England, 2nd in Normandy) and we would most definitely do it again!
Below are some of the awesome photos we took either with the car or driving!
*We drove the car all the way on this itinerary from Salt Lake City to San Francisco! Check out the route and more blogs from the itinerary page.
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Have you ever driven in America and had some good or bad driving experiences? Share in the comments as we’d love to hear!