BlaBlaCar Review – Navigate 22 Countries Inexpensively
On my recent trip to Amsterdam we took a train ride to Brussels. We were supposed to stay there for 2 nights but after the first day we decided we wanted to head back to Amsterdam a day early. I checked the train schedule but it was going to cost us around 60 EUR to change our tickets to a day earlier. My buddy was on Google maps trying to figure out other options when BlaBlaCar popped up. We had no idea what BlaBlaCar was but for $20 a person we were willing to give it a try and I enjoyed the experience so much that I figured a BlaBlaCar review was in order.
What Is BlaBlaCar
The best way I could describe BlaBlaCar is to say it is like a long haul Uber service. It is carpooling for the explorer. Someone will post a drive they are taking and if your needs falls on their route you can take up one of their seats. You will agree with a pick up and drop off point with the driver and that is that.
The BlaBlaCar platform has 70 million users in 2019 and is available in 22 countries. Almost all of them are in Europe although Mexico was recently added. More info on which countries participate can be found on Wikipedia.
BlaBlaCar Review – Using the App
My friend decided to download the app and give it a try. He selected England as his home country since USA wasn’t a choice. It seems like it is hard to change it once you select so be sure to select a country with the language you want versus which country you are in. This will make prices show in Pound Sterling but it is what it is.
Once you select your language and set up your account it is time to search for a ride. You enter in your origin and destination and it populates people that will be going on that route and their price.
Each driver has reviews and info just like Uber etc. does. You can select them based on their departing time, price, ratings etc. Depending on how popular the route is will determine how many options you have.
Once you have selected a driver that has a time etc. that works for you they have to accept the ride. You can send them a message after selecting them explaining your trip or whatever you want to say. Once they approve the ride you will agree on a pick up point.
Our driver had us meet him at the Brussels Airport since it was a quick on and off from the highway. He was supposed to drop us off just outside the city center of Amsterdam but ended up taking us all the way to the hotel. He even came up to have a drink with us at the Sky Lounge at the hotel!
BlaBlaCar Review – The Ride
Here is where it can get a little tricky. If you are meeting somewhere other than your hotel, like at the train station, you may need international cell service to keep in touch. Just keep that in mind if you go this route. Delays may happen on the drivers trip to you so you want to be able to keep in touch.
We were able to locate each other after a little back and forth. Neither us or Riccardo (the driver) had been to Brussels Airport before so finding a pick up spot was a little challenging. Once we were in the car we ended up picking up a 3rd passenger on the way. We dropped him off about 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam. It was a pretty smooth process and consider it like taking an Uber pool.
Our wheel man was Riccardo and he was on his way back from vacation. He lived in Amsterdam but found a cheap flight out of a small airport in Belgium. He decided to cover his costs on his drive home by picking up some riders. We were able to get some tips on Amsterdam as well as pick his brain about other areas to check out in Europe. As mentioned above we even convinced him to have a pint with us before he headed home. Chatting with Riccardo was the best part of the whole experience!
BlaBlaCar Review – Potential Issues
Using a system like this is not new to most of us since we use ride share apps all of the time. There are some potential issues with depending on BlaBlaCar though. Since they are not short haul trips and are just people on road trips finding a ride that works for you could be challenging. You may need to be a little flexible with your schedule or plan further ahead than a same day booking like we did. We were lucky that the times and route ended up working out perfectly for us.
I am glad we had a chance to use BlaBlaCar and I plan on using the service again in the future. Taking the train from Amsterdam to Brussels was also amazing and overall more relaxing, big comfy seats! But getting a local’s perspective on the area we were visiting plus the overall savings made BlaBlaCar a great choice for us too. If you are not afraid to have a conversation for a few hours and want to save some serious money then give BlaBlaCar a look on your next trip to Europe.