Blablacar: The Site
Blablacar is a rideshare website, or “carpooling community” as they call it. The interface is surprisingly simple; put in where you’re leaving from and where you want to go and if there are people offering rides, they’ll show up.
There is one downside to this system though, you can’t put in general locations or search “nearby.” It does however show the various possible drop-off points between and if you were to search major cities, you could likely negotiate with your driver to get dropped off somewhere in the middle if you needed.
First view of the site:
Once you narrow it down to rides that suit your dates and times, you just need to pick a price. They are usually quite similar typically varying by less than $10.
You can also view the profiles and reviews of potential drivers. Other factors listed include how many people max in the backseat (2 or 3), whether smoking is permitted in the car (it’s typically not), and whether or not they play music or are chatty.
After you’ve decided on your ride, you’re brought to a payment screen that you can use paypal. Once paid, your money is held in escrow by the site until the ride is completed. You are given a code to pass on to the driver once you are picked up.
The rides I’ve booked have all be significantly cheaper than buses or trains (unless I was to book said bus or train a month or more inadvance!). Also, they allow for greater time and date options.
My rides with Blablacar
These past few months I’ve booked a few rides with Blablacar from France to Spain & within Spain.
Ride 1: Carcassonne To Barcelona
Once this ride was booked, the driver was very good about staying in contact. You can message over the site and you are also given the phone number. We discussed a pickup point and timeframe. The driver was there on time and friendly.
On this ride there were two other people in the car – one French and one Spanish. The driver spoke fluent French, some Spanish and some English. The other woman only spoke Spanish, and the third French and Spanish. I only speak English and have a limited understanding of the other two languages. It was a good car ride, but not much conversation happened.
Once in Barcelona I was dropped off at a metro station and made my way to my AirBnb to begin my “workcation.” Click the picture below to read more about my workcation.
Ride 2: Barcelona to Andorra
This ride was booked two days before it was to take place. There was limited communication between myself and the driver, but I just chalked that up to a language barrier. All we discussed was the pickup point and time.
I arrived at said place and time and messaged to let him know I was there. No response. I called. No response. I messaged over the website. No response.
I waited around for about half an hour. The ride was a no-show. I needed to cancel the ride back I had booked (as I was only going for a day trip) and make new plans.
I contacted blablacar and gave back the full payment (including booking fee) for both rides – though it took a little back and forth to get the full payment for the return ride that I needed to cancel as it was with a different driver.
Ride 3: Barcelona to Valencia
This ride wasn’t too long and went quite smoothly. I booked this one about two days ahead of time. I had already had my airbnb and other plans made in Valencia so I was praying this one would show up.
Similar to the first ride, there were three passengers and the driver. The driver was a very nice man, but spoke little English. The third passenger was a bit late and we ended up waiting around for him about fifteen minutes longer than planned – but other than that no problems.
Considering it was such a short ride, I was surprised that we stopped at a rest stop. It wasn’t just a quick bathroom break, but about twenty minutes of getting snacks and walking around and for the other passengers, smoking.
I was dropped off at a metro station once we arrived, gave the driver the code, and we split ways.
Ride 4: Valencia to Madrid
This ride was great. The driver was easy to communicate with and another of the passengers spoke English, so I had someone to chat with on the long drive.
The only downside is that I did not anticipate there being three people in the back (myself as the one squished in the middle). On the site it showed one girl as the driver, and two other passengers plus myself. In reality those people were all there, but with her boyfriend (?) as the driver with the three passengers in the back. Had I have known this to be the case, I wouldn’t have booked this ride as there were many other rides available that day.
Ridesharing is a great way to save money and provide more options for transportation. The only downside of it is that it’s simply people picking you up, and not a company. It is unreliable. If you miss your ride or they fail to show up, there won’t be another one coming in an hour or so.
If you don’t have concrete plans, or somewhere you absolutely HAVE to be at a certain time, I highly recommend using Blablacar. Otherwise, I’d go with something more regulated, or try to get to where you need to in advance.
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