As scary as it sounds for people like us who are used to right hand drive, left hand drive - in a foreign land - is actually pretty doable. Before I share with you more tips, I must first share with you the
We actually managed to get everything settled online before reaching LA. Upon reaching the counter, the lady asked me which ride am I interested in.
You guys remember Transformers the movie where there was this epic line by the late Bernie Mac?
"A driver doesn't choose the car, it's the car that chooses its driver"
So I thought it will be cool of me to quote him. And you know how fast cars are so common in LA? This is how I imagined I would look like:
But then, reality gave me a kick in my face instead. This is really how cool I looked like to the counter lady I think:
A Toyota Yaris!!! : ( I really so uncool meh?!!! )
Okay lah, jokes aside. This Toyota Yaris did serve us well. Not only was the petrol consumption decent and it actually managed to fit in all of us and our bags.
Anyway here are some tips for Singaporeans who are thinking about driving in LA:
International Driving Permit
For the unaware, you need this. I know some might say that it's okay as long as you don't get caught on the roads, but FYI, when you are collecting the car they would require you to present this as well. It's better for you to get it even if you are just a secondary driver.
How to get it?
You can apply online at : http://www.aas.com.sg/our-services/international-driving-permit-idp.html
Protip: Just go straight down to their office at AMK to get it done. It took me less than 5mins and it's way easier than waiting for them to mail you or reject you saying that the image doesn't fit or what not. Yes, they will take a picture for you on the spot, so for those who wants it to look nicer, do bring your makeup kit along.
Renting a ride
There are quite a few service providers and all of them have their own carparks and offices situated near the airport. So after comparing prices + reading reviews online to make sure they are legit car rental services, we actually went with AVIS. Their site is very easy to navigate. Their staff are nice and helpful. No complains at all and would totally recommend them.
Picking up the ride
When you arrive at LAX, just simply walk out of the airport and look for the sign that says "Rental Car Shuttles" Do not worry, you do not need to pay for the service or anything. The lady who drives the bus would even get off the bus and offer to carry your bags for you. They are really nice people! They will then send you directly to the car rental centres for you to pick up your car.
I know our mobile phones have Google Maps and all but please don't count on that. Pay a little more and get the GPS they provide. It's way more accurate and connectivity wouldn't fail you when you drive into the tunnels and stuff.
That Left Hand Drive
It was intimidating and scary for the first 5min. Erm... Maybe because I was driving at the opposite direction of the road within the carpark. Everybody was like waving at me and telling me that I was on the wrong side of the road. LOL. It took me almost 5mins to orientate myself and I'm glad I didn't run anyone down. I guess the tip here is that, take it slow and drive around the carpark a few times to make sure you get the hang of it before you hit the main roads.
On the road
Take it slow. Although there are plenty of fast cars on the road, they are relatively kind people. As long as I hit my signal for cutting lanes, they will actually really slow down and let me cut in. So guys, always signal!
CARPOOLS ONLY (HOV) Sign
if you are unfamiliar, here's the explanation from wikipedia.
"A high-occupancy vehicle lane (also known as an HOV lane, carpool lane, diamond lane, 2+ lane, and transit lane or T2 or T3 lanes in Australia and New Zealand) is a restricted traffic lane reserved at peak travel times or longer for the exclusive use of vehicles with a driver and one or more passengers, including carpools, vanpools, and transit buses. The normal minimum occupancy level is 2 or 3 occupants. Many jurisdictions exempt other vehicles, including motorcycles, charter buses, emergency and law enforcement vehicles, low-emission and other green vehicles, and/or single-occupancy vehicles paying a toll. HOV lanes are normally created to increase average vehicle occupancy and persons traveling with the goal of reducing traffic congestion and air pollution, although their effectiveness is questionable."
Feel free to use it as long as you have more than 1 pax in the car. It saved me sooo much time when I was heading towards Universal Studios.
Prettiest Sunset ever. It's like rainbow ice-cream in the sky!
Give more travel time allowance
Their traffic is horrible. It's not like Jakarta or India horrible but their highway jam is REAL. Plan properly and allocate more time if you are heading for something important such as
catching a Lakers match at Staples Centre. LOL.
Overall my driving experience at LA was really great. Have fun!