While traveling around Spain this year, I was introduced to a ride-sharing phenomenon called BlaBlaCar. Given the fact that it’s becoming a fairly popular method of transportation in many countries around the world, I was surprised that I hadn’t yet heard about… and I found myself wishing the BlaBlaCar app had been in existence during my “Spain days”, ahem, a decade ago.
(Side note: How the heck did my 23-year-old-self explore Europe so effortlessly without a smartphone? I guess that’s the best way to become an independent traveler! RIP Mapquest Printouts.)
Anyway, allow me to share with you a little bit about this rather unique travel experience!
BlaBlaCar is a long-distance carpooling platform designed to meet the needs of both drivers and passengers.
A self-described “trusted community marketplace,” BlaBlaCar places a high value on the role of relationships in the overall experience – which sounds a lot like Airbnb to me. Most certainly it is about cost-effective travel, but the mission also promotes users to participate in a unique relational dynamic, namely meeting new people and helping one another out.
Another way to think about it:
BlaBlaCar is to Hitchhiking what Airbnb is to CouchSurfing.
…With 70 million members in 22 countries and over 25 million travellers every quarter, BlaBlaCar is creating an entirely new, people powered, travel network. With a dedicated member relations service, a state of the art web and mobile platform, and a fast-growing trusted community, BlaBlaCar is making travel social, money-saving and more efficient for millions of members.
So, you may be wondering, how does BlaBlaCar work? Glad you asked.
A person plans to drive their own vehicle from Point A to Point B, but they have empty seats. To help with travel expenses and/or to have some company on the road, the driver posts available seats to their profile on the app.
Passengers can view all available rides that meet their search criteria, which include their origin, travel destination, and personal preferences – such as ride with/without pets, smoking, taking rest stops, etc. Passengers apply to join rides, and once accepted, payment is processed through the app.
Drivers and passengers can chat through the message feature on the app, but they can also share contact information once they have agreed to journey together. After the journey, both review each other to let others in the BlaBlaCar community know about their experience with that individual.
Feel The Rewards
Typically, a BlaBlaCar ride is a must cheaper option for travelers, which is a major appeal to those on a tighter budget. Drivers get to cut the costs of a trip that they were already going to take. So, everyone wins economically, which feels really great. Yay for carpooling!
You can find BlaBlaCar in many countries around the world! I imagine that the network will only continue to grow and expand into new territory over time.
BlaBlaCar will tell you that the relational reward in a major benefit to this carpooling service. Indeed, people can have really meaningful interactions while traveling together. However, the flip side is that it’s the people who also make up the biggest risk factor to BlaBlaCar experience.
Weigh The Risks
Much like Airbnb, BlaBlaCar depends on user reviews. Both drivers and passengers share about their journey with online community. On the whole, people have good experiences and leave favorable commentary. However, sometimes individuals don’t mesh well together or circumstances don’t work out quite right. It’s a risk every driver and passenger must weigh.
While unpleasant experiences between BlaBlaCar users are not unheard of, rarely do they include actual elements of danger. With that said, as a female passenger, I preferred to never ride alone with a man, as I didn’t feel comfortable with that scenario. Employing wisdom and discernment is just as important as having an open mind and positive attitude.
My Experience with BlaBlaCar
From my experiences traveling with BlaBlaCar around Spain, I can see both the risks and the rewards to using this carpooling network. I was stuck in a vehicle for 6 hours with a driver I didn’t particularly like, but I am so grateful for the ride because it was the only way for me to make it to my destination in time. BlaBlaCar truly was a life-saver! Plus, I have experienced the rewards of riding with someone who is positively delightful.
Click. Go. Together.
BlaBlaCar promotes a simple concept on an easy-to-use platform. Technology is revolutionizing the travel industry, and I’m interested to see where the trajectory will lead us. I will be back in Spain in two weeks’ time, and I will be catching a BlaBlaCar ride once or twice more!
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN TO SHARE…
Hey guys – is BlaBlaCar news to you? What do you think about this? If you’re a BlaBlaCar user, what have your experiences been like? What’s your take on this travel-savvy app? Any guesses on when BlaBlaCar will enter the carpool market in the USA?