Have you ever had a last minute change of plans to head up another place but no idea how you’re going to get there? Do you imagine sharing a ride with complete strangers? Have you ever given up a trip because of the expensive train rides, costly flights, and boring long bus trip? How do you want to save money on a road trip? Well, ride sharing with BlaBlaCar saved me. Through this European-wide carpooling website, I was able to travel from Rome to Florence to Padova to Venice inexpensively and fun.
Before I embarked on my dream Europe trip, I have already known about BlaBlaCar, but never thought about using it until my trip in Italy. BlaBlaCar.com is an online marketplace for meeting people who offer spare seats to save gas and travelers/passengers who want to take a road trip to save money with one or more fellows to a common destination. This carpooling system is making waves across Europe and it’s often cheaper and faster than buses or trains. I really like the concept, anybody can find partners for ride-sharing, either passenger or driver.
My experience with BlaBlacar was incredibly convenient and fun. I supposed to stay in Rome for a week as planned but something came up which I decided to visit the countryside. I thought of seeing Padova before reaching Venice. I wanted to take a trip to Tuscany as well but it was too late and costly to book a train. I never gave up until BlaBlaCar crossed my mind. I checked a ride which will depart from Rome to Florence or Pisa. Since I haven’t reserved an accommodation in Florence, sightseeing will be fine. The good thing of this site is that, last minute booking will do as long as it is available. The platform is very user-friendly and it is also available in Android and iOs. I have contacted 3 drivers which I screened according to my preference (type of car, driving skills and priced). One guy confirmed the availability which will depart the following day. I sent a quick response to allow me to meet at the train station near my hotel. It all went well and told him that I have a huge backpack to fill his trunk. The price was unbelievable for €25 going to Padova from Rome with a special side trip to Florence *insert smiley*. I compared a train ride then that cost around €60, so I saved more than half. The next day, we met up in Roma Termini railway station. Beforehand he was able to describe his looks and I too. A clean-looking bachelor wearing formal will drive a rugged backpacker carrying overhead bag to Padova? Wow! couldn’t imagine that. Together with two other passengers who happen to be traveling around Europe as well got me excited for the trip. Considering that it was my first time, I never felt awkward sharing a ride with complete strangers named Anne and Edward and the car owner Stefano. We were laughing the whole 3.5 hour trip sharing our experiences and had stop-overs for a quick bite. We were able to get to know each other and made great conversation on the road. Stefano shared a lot of things about Italian living, famous landmarks and the history of some Italian foods. He was not just our driver but a tour guide in an instant. It’s a win-win solution, we paid for a ride and we all had a fantastic journey. We then reached the beautiful Florence, the dropping point of Anne and Edward. I regret that I didn’t stay for a day or two in Florence but lucky enough to see the classic beauty of the city from the car. Ofcourse, I still have another 2 hour ride to Padova then Venice. The whole trip made me realize that people in general are so kind. I couldn’t believe how easy and fun that was.
Isn’t it a perfect idea having a type of community like this? Strangers are trusting, respecting and sharing. I would definitely share the idea to other travelers. Nowadays it is practical to use this opportunity for everyone who considers travelling on a budget. Moreover, you can get to know different people during traveling. Let me give few guides. Here you go!
How it works:
The service is accessible through their website (click here) it’s free mobile apps for Android and iOS. Sign up and provide a credible profile including you mobile number, email address, etc. or link your Facebook. Once ready, follow these 3 easy steps. (as per the website)
- Find a ride. Just enter your from and to cities and your travel date. Choose a driver to travel with – if you need more info, ask the driver by posting a public question.
- Book and pay online. Book and pay for your seat online – you’ll then receive a booking code. Your driver will be immediately notified of your booking – you’ll get their phone number to arrange the final details.
- Travel together. Be at your planned meeting point on time. Give your booking code to the driver during the ride.
Prices are usually fixed when a car owner posted a ride. BlaBlaCar sets a ceiling price in order to ensure costs are fairly shared and that owner will not exceed and make a profit. In short, price per seat is calculated on the basis of the fuel consumed and toll paid for the entire journey. The more passengers will ride the less they pay.
- It is satisfying way to travel inexpensively around Europe. If you are on a budget, this is probably a smart choice.
- It is safe and reliable.
- It will give you an opportunity to meet like-minded travelers.
- Have a good conversation and to get to know nice people.
- Faster than bus and trains
- Car owners are easy-going that you can ask for detour or stopovers to interesting places for a picture taking.
- You can always select the type of car you want.
- It is not 100% sure that you are getting what have expected
- It might ruin your schedule since the driver has to wait for the other passenger
- You are at your own risk in case of an accident
See!? There are more pros than cons. I would highly recommend it.