In the USA, I am a rarity among the millennial peer group. I am not sure why given the most of the rest of the world but driving around the USA I am odd. Why am I odd? I own a vehicle with a manual transmission and I purchased it in June 2015. There is a funny story behind why I drive a manual transmission which I will share at a later date but the gist is that I got my first car at the age of 13 (yep, 13) and was allowed to drive it every day (and no my parents weren’t crazy). Originally, I hated that my car was going to be a manual transmission but now 13 years later, I can’t imagine owning a car that isn’t a manual transmission.
Today, a manual transmission car makes up about 10% of all available models. That means buying a new manual transmission is a little difficult to find in stock at a dealer. The car doesn’t sit on the lot because if you drive a clutch you know what you want and are don’t want to wait when you find one (the dealer had to special order mine). A good majority of millennials (and heck, our parents) don’t know how to drive a clutch. My college friend group had two. One who like me, her first car was a manual and the second, I taught to drive a manual.
My knowledge of driving a clutch has come in rather useful on several occasions while traveling. Here are 5 great reasons a traveler should learn to drive a manual transmission.
Drive any car worldwide
I can rent a car, anywhere in the world and never have to worry about if it is a manual transmission or automatic transmission. I know I can drive either interchangeably.
Better gas mileage
The void in gas mileage has significantly shrunk between manuals and automatics but on average a manual gets better gas mileage. That extra 1 to 2 miles a gallon isn’t a lot but over a course of 900-mile road trip it can add up.
It saves you money
A manual transmission costs less: in purchasing, in owning, in renting. It really does cost less. On my Icelandic road trip, it was an extra $10.00 a day for an automatic. Basically, I could have an extra beer everyday since I was saving money by driving a clutch (Do NOT drink and drive. Have that extra beer at the hotel bar before bed).
It gives you better control.
Being able to physically choose what gear you are in can provide extra power by downshifting rather than having to increase pressure on the gas pedal. I get to select which gear I need for which situation. I don’t have to trust that my car will select the correct gear for the situation.
It is just plain fun.
There is nothing more fun than driving tight mountain roads and getting to shift gears around corners. It makes one feel like they are in the movies without all the danger.
This bonus reason is for millennials and female travelers
Enjoyment in the shock when they realize you can drive a manual.
It never fails when I rent a manual transmission vehicle that I get asked, “Do you know how to drive a manual?” “Yes, yes, I do!” I can say that in a strong and confident voice. This is usually met with a skeptical look (not sure if it is because I am a woman, millennial, or American) but I get that yea right look out of them. I love the look on their face when I get in the car, start it up and back it out without any clutch issue.
Can you drive a manual transmission? Have you ever done it abroad? Do you want to learn to drive a clutch?