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car map man lost travelIs it dangerous to drive after dark in Ireland?

That question was posted on our message boards earlier this week by a reader planning an upcoming trip to the Emerald Isle. While several members offered reassurance that driving in Ireland doesn’t necessarily require careening along narrow cliff-side roads with no guard rails, the question isn’t an unreasonable one. No matter where you’re headed — and which side of the road you’re driving on — navigating a rental car around a foreign country can be one of travel’s most daunting experiences.

Years ago, a companion and I enjoyed a scenic but stressful drive along Italy’s Amalfi Coast, dodging Vespas and trying to ogle the gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea without missing a hairpin turn and hurtling into said sea. In the Caribbean, we steered around potholes big enough to deserve their own ZIP code. In Scotland, the country roads were so tight that we had to get up close and personal with “hairy coos” in the fields just to let other drivers pass in the opposite direction.

It’s all part of the fun of travel (or at least that’s what I tell myself after I get home, when I’m spinning tall tales of my adventures on the road). But let’s be honest: sometimes the effort isn’t worth it. In destinations with a robust public transportation system, I prefer to hop on a train and leave the driving to the professionals.

For places where that’s not a practical option (like, say, Ireland after dark), it’s best to slow down, invest in a good GPS unit and drive defensively. For more help, see our International Car Rental Tips.

What’s your best advice for driving in a foreign country?

– written by Sarah Schlichter

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