I love driving, it gives me that same feeling of freedom as cycling. I’ve been to USA a few times now, but mostly visiting big cities like New York (twice), Los Angeles and Chicago, where I don’t have to drive. These are massive cities that serve great transportation systems, making it very easy to get to all the places you want to see and explore.
Nashville is different. It’s a small city, not less known, but to the human eye downtown more or less only consist of a short but popular street and everything else, and I mean everything else, is scattered out in different suburbs and town areas. There are no trains, buses or taxis outside of the main city centre so in order for me to get around (and if you’re thinking of going), I only had one option – rent a car!
I was really nervous before arriving in Nashville, knowing I’d have to rent a car for the first time, to drive in the US for the first time and on top of that, drive on my tod. None of these worries were of any concern once I started driving. Luckily I didn’t need my own car during the first couple of days on arrival, so I familiarised myself with the area and driving culture from the passenger seat of my cousins car.
Renting a car in Nashville
I did some research on how to rent a car prior to going and colleagues, friends and family who have rented cars in the US before gave me some really good tips. I didn’t end up taking many in the end (ha!) and still came out with an easy and cheap deal.
I rented the car, a Ford Focus, from Hertz for four days. I wanted a Ford Mustang but they’re a third more expensive so that option was quickly ruled out. Why is everything always about money? Hertz has two insurance options to choose from and I took the most expensive which covers more, just to be on the safe side. Combined with my travel insurance, if I had a minor accident, someone driving in to me, me hitting something or the car accidentally being scratched, I was completely covered. I felt more at ease with this option and for an extra $10 or so, it’s well worth it!
I don’t know if they have an option of renting a car with gears, probably not, so if you’re concerned swapping from sitting to the right hand side driving to sit on the left hand side, the gears is one less thing to worry about. For me, it was even easier as I’m used to driving in Sweden where they drive on the right hand side anyways. Tip to save money! – Bring your phone and use its gps rather than renting one. If you’re on Three like me, it’s for free to use your data abroad in the US.
My driving experience in Nashville
I loved driving on my own, it was a sense of freedom. I could go wherever I wanted and whenever I wanted. I was able to see everything I had written on my bucket list and without the car, I’d never would have found the little cowboy boots shop where I bought my Durango cowgirl boots. I’ll write a post later in my Nashville series with more places I visited that I don’t think you should miss out on if you go.
Back to the feeling of being free. The US roads are very big, and long, they go on forever. It’s incredible that you can end up more or less on your own on a road in such a big country like this and with so many inhabitants – unreal! I had no idea Nashville is such a beautiful city and country side full of green hills and valleys. A really fun and beautiful area to be driving in. Not so much fun when the really heavy rain storm came in, I could hardly see but I managed.
Because the city isn’t that big, there’s no more than 2-3 lanes at a time, apart from on the highway where there’s up to 5. I did drive on Highway 65 one of the days, the last, when I felt more comfortable. It was scary driving on to it but once on, it was fun and again, so liberating! I was really impressed with the easy number system for each sliproad so I knew exactly which exit to take.
I was driving a lot during these four days, 40 minutes in each direction each day, plus some extra travel in between. If I remember correctly, I didn’t use up a lot of the petrol tank so I only had to pay $10-15 to fill it up again. It’s disgustingly cheap with petrol in the US!
Next time I go to the US, I’m renting a Ford Mustang no matter what! I’d love to drive for longer, between big cities, across the country – not just as a day to day mean of transport.
Have you driven in the US? What’s your experience and best tips?