How to use blablacar? That was my first question when a friend told me about it. What is blablacar? How do I use blablacar? Is blablacar really so cheap? Will I be kidnapped? Is it safe? There are tons of questions about blablacar so I will help you to answer all your doubts.
Firstly, What is Blablacar
Blablacar is a platform for carpooling in Europe. Many people drive from Switzerland to Germany or across a country for a long distance drive. They post their route on the platform. If your travel route is the same as them, you can connect with them and travel to your destination for a fee.
I used Blablacar every week when I was living in the Netherlands. It is a great way to travel around Europe, meet new people and have lots of fun!
I have taken the car across a country (within Portugal, Spain, France, etc) and across countries (Germany-Netherlands, France-Germany, Netherlands-Belgium, Belgium-France, etc).
It is cheap, easy to use and extremely flexible. Not to mention that long journeys are a lot more fun now.
Imagine driving from Paris to Strasbourg. It takes 5h with a car. But the driver and I had so much fun chatting and talking about everything under the sun! It was great. You can use it in many countries in Europe and travel across countries too. Let me show you how.
Step 1: Sign Up
Go to www.blablacar.com. It will automatically direct you to the country that you are in, i.e. www.blablacar.fr if you are in France. Don’t worry, just sign up as usual. Use Google Chrome with auto-translate. Alternatively, you can use www.blablar.co.uk for the UK version for English. They currently support most main languages in Europe.
You need an account. I created my account with email and linked it to my Facebook. You can use your own phone number, as long as it can receive texts.
Upon signing up, you can go to your dashboard. I recommend that you add your picture and some details about yourself. You have a higher chance of being approved for rides.
Step 2: Fill in your travel dates
Go to “Find a ride”.
State where you are leaving from and going to and input your date. You will find all the people that are offering.
For instance, I am searching for Paris to Nantes.
I sort the rides according to price. If I have to leave at a specific time, I will limit the search to the top left. The first 2 rides are not specifically Nantes and Paris. So the third ride will do.
Step 3: Wait for approval
If you see the “lightning” sign, it means that you can book instantly and need not wait for approval.
In the description, you usually have a note by the driver on where they will pick you up and drop you off.
Use Google Translate if you need.
I usually check for the price, time and pick up point. Some people check the ratings too, so you can do that. Some drivers also have picture and information about their car. I find that useful.
You make your request or booking via the platform. Payment is made online with an additional service fee. If you want to save on the service fee, speak to the driver directly. Blablacar blocks out some information like phone number and place, but you can always play around with it.
For instance, instead of typing 12345678 for your phone number, you can use “one-23 four” and send “56-seven-ate” in another. Nonetheless, it is always safer to book through the platform.
Once payment is made online, you have the phone number of the driver.
Step 4: Contact the driver and wait at the designated location
Meet your driver and have fun! Sometimes you have other passengers on the ride too. You can also book for more than 1 passenger, depending on the availability.
Step 5: Have fun!
Have fun on your journey! People are usually very happy to have riders on a long journey. Language might be an issue sometimes, so be patient and be kind. After your journey, you are prompted to leave a review. The driver will also leave you a review as a rider.
I have taken more blablacar rides than I can remember, but not everyone writes a review.
- Add a picture of yourself. Approval rates are higher.
- Check what car you are riding with. For 1€ more, you might get a better car.
- Chat with the driver to see if they can drop you off at your desired location. Sometimes it is along the way, sometimes the drivers are nice.
- Book your rides 1-7 days in advance. People do not put their journeys 2 weeks in advance.
- If you are in no rush, sort the rides by price.
- Make sure that the pickup and drop off are the right cities. Blablacar will connect you to drivers that are in the area. i.e. for Paris to Nantes route, they will connect you to Orvault, Sceaux, Bouffémont, etc.
- Blablacar is for long distance carpool. If you need something short distance, like the central train station to the airport, use Uber or the airport buses.
- Have baggage (backpack/luggage)? Do tell the driver beforehand and see if they have space for your item!
- On a road trip? Post your plans on blablacar too and earn some money to cover the cost of petrol for your road trip! We did that and had very interesting chats with a rider on the way to Paris!
How to use blablacar?
The 5 steps shown above is a step-by-step guide.
What is blablacar?
Blablacar is a platform for carpooling in Europe. Many people drive from Switzerland to Germany or across a country for a long distance drive.
Is Blablacar really so cheap?
The prices of Blablacar depends on the supply and demand. I found that during summer, prices are lower in popular routes as many people travel then. It is also cheaper compared to full-priced trains in Europe. Munich to Berlin with Blablacar is a lot cheaper than the trains. And it is a good way to get to small villages in Europe. There are no transportations to get there. Sometimes, you have blablacar going there.
In general, it is a lot cheaper. That being said, do look out for cheap deals on trains and buses too. With blablacar, you can’t plan in advance. It is better for people with flexible schedules, compared to a full-planned itinerary.
Will I be kidnapped? Is it safe?
This is not an invalid question. I was sceptical at first too. But after taking plenty of rides and meeting amazing people, there is no issue with it. In general, book on the platform, check the ratings and tell your friends when you are in a blablacar. I usually give the phone number, name and profile to a friend when I book a blablacar that seems unsafe*.
*Unsafe: no verification, no profile picture, no ratings, just joined. I don’t usually ride with these profiles.
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.