5 Epic Reasons Travelers need to learn to drive a Manual Transmission

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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.

The first photo of my Subaru Forester (manual transmission) on purchase day.
The first photo of my Subaru Forester (manual transmission) on purchase day.

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. And most situations while driving are perilious and inopportune. If you were to cast a glance at the Fresno truck accident statistics, you’d know that manual transmission is not completely obsolete. I was also once persuaded by accident attorneys, when they said ‘Visit our website‘, to know of the predicament that we, or for any matter, anyone could be in, if they were to neglect the minutiae.

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.

5 Awesome Reason to to Drive A Manual Transmission While Traveling
My faithful Honda Fit that my parents got me when I decided to drive across the US while in college. It was a manual at my request.

Can you drive a manual transmission?  Have you ever done it abroad?  Do you want to learn to drive a clutch?

21 thoughts on “5 Epic Reasons Travelers need to learn to drive a Manual Transmission”

  1. I am a MT driver all the way. In fact, even here in Manila where traffic jams are of the norm, I still prefer to drive MT. I love to go on long drives and the only way to do this is drive an MT car. For me its the only way.

  2. I never realized my manual driving prowess would be so much valued. Where we stay, we all drive manual cars, automatic cars are a minority. Having driven both, the thrill if driving is always in the manual one.

  3. This is super important because a lot of European countries rent out Manual transmission cars and charge extra for the automatic ones. planned on renting a car in Vienna 2 years ago, actually practiced driving Manual by myself, came to Vienna and was upgraded to automatic 😀

  4. Yes, I can drive a clutch. It was all we owned when I was learning to drive. Years later when my husband purchased a truck, he took me to an empty parking lot. His goal was to teach me how to drive his truck. I told him I already knew how. I don’t think he believed me. So I put the truck in gear and drove out of the parking lot and drove home. The look on his face was priceless!
    I also loved the trick my father taught me of “jumping” a manual by coasting downhill and popping the clutch. You can’t do that with an automatic!

  5. Even I drive a manual transmission and Love my car too. I agree with all your points, especially that I can save and buy myself one more beer. I have driven in Sri Lanka too and it was just same like it is in India, except that the roads were less packed.

  6. I’m hiding my head in shame – I have never learned to drive a manual car and it has hurt me all around the world – especially in Malawi, where I was totally dependent on my housemates for transportation. It’s such an important skill to learn.

  7. Being Italian, we’re used to manual transmission and my husband had to get used to the automatic one when we first visited the USA. Just like you, he always said that you spend less money on gas on a manual transmission car, which is why he’d never buy an automatic one!

  8. I’m one of those who can’t drive a manual – and honestly I probably never will learn, because I don’t have access to one – but I agree with all of your points, and would definitely back you in encouraging new drivers to learn. Because it definitely is cheaper when you’re renting cars internationally, I always feel gypped that I have to choose the more expensive option just because I can’t drive a stick!

  9. I’m lucky that my parents taught me to drive manual cars :). As you say it really does bring the price of car rental down and you have so many options available to you! Nothing beats having a spare $10 in your pocket for that extra activity or beer ;).

  10. Its good to see you driving a manual transmission and not a automatic. When I drive in the USA, I find the level of driving quite shocking to say, Europe. I always say that when in the USA, students doing their lessons in the car, its not really learning to drive, its learning how to move a vehicle. It also means the standard isn’t great (road awareness) and I can’t understand why Americans are so shocked when they hire cars over here. How the hell do we drive this thing!?!?! Where’s the D,N,R, etc! LOL. Its quite amusing to see them shout at the Car Hire Rental guys at airports. But anyway….learn manual and keep practising, and the world is your oyster, thats what I say 🙂 Its not that hard guys 😀 (I am blabbing now) 😀

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