The type of budget travel I am accustomed to does not allow for a large amount of money to spend on transportation once I reach my destination, so I have to be careful of how I get around. These days, although oftentimes airfare can be cheaper or comparable to long-distance trains, maybe the last minute Ryan-Air flight you are looking at is out of budget or you would prefer to enjoy the journey’s scenery at eye-level. Taking rail or bus is not your only other option for getting around on the ground.
Here are some of my recommended websites you can use to find alternative, mainly rideshare transportation, many of which I have personally used.
If you are familiar with the rideshare service Mitfahrgelegenheit, it is now powered by the site Carpooling.com. If you are in the U.S. you must access it through the Mitfahrgelegenheit web address or select an available country in Europe on the Carpooling site because it is not yet available in the U.S.
When it comes to catching rides with strangers, you might picture a shady man with no teeth sitting in a beat-up pick-up truck, but the reality is that many ride-share websites are used by working professionals and honest, safe people. I have friends who have even ridden in expensive cars they would have never been able to sit in.
I used Mitfahrgelegenheit last March (2013) for a ride from Prague to Frankfurt. My ride was excellent, it was with a middle aged radio dj personality and his pet collie. Although I am now qualified to write his biography from how much he talked about himself, his car was extremely nice, his dog adorable and I got to travel at incredible speeds on the Autobahn and through many detours consisting of tiny German towns.
The new site is much nicer to use than it used to be. It is in German so I suggest accessing the site using the Google Chrome Browser so you can translate the German on the page to English with the click of a button if German isn’t your strong suit.
Once you select your preferred departure and arrival cities, the following page will show you people offering rides between those cities and the prices they are asking for. You can adjust your preferred distances as well if you wouldn’t mind traveling a bit to meet your ride at your departure and/or arrival destination.
A few great aspects about this site:
If you are leery of traveling alone as a woman, you can search for rides offered by women for women only.
Additionally, you can adjust the max price you would like to pay and the site also provides train and bus company prices listed in with the rides offered by rideshare. They are clearly labeled as so to avoid any confusion. This not only allows you to compare if the rideshare prices listed are reasonable, but if there aren’t any rides listed you can always resort to taking the train or a bus if need be.
But before you do that, try:
Bla Bla Car
A very similar concept to Mitfahrgelegenheit (Carpooling.com), the site lists rides offered in a familiar layout.
You can choose to view only users who have selected pictures and below their icons or images you can see if smoking is allowed in the car, their level of chattiness, if pets are acceptable and their feelings on music in the car. You can even sort by how comfortable the car is.
I like that once you have entered your preferred departure and arrival cities, you can instantly view upcoming rides for that day, tomorrow or select a different date.
I have never used Bla Bla Car personally but I know many people who have and like Mitfahrgelegenheit, you can save money, time and maybe make a new friend.
This website is slick. Although there is a yearly fee of 7.50 Canadian dollars and a 5 dollar fee per ride, there are thousands of users and a few thousand rides posted each week. The rides are mainly in Canada with many rides making border crossings into the U.S. (e.g. Montreal-New York). If you are traveling within/to/from Canada it is definitely worth checking out this website for a reasonably priced ride. Searching to see what is out there only takes a brief second and you will likely save money and/or have a better experience than other options.
This is the best U.S. rideshare website and although it is less well-known than Craiglist it is certainly less mysterious. It connects users through Facebook so you can do a bit of stalking before you request to ride with people you don’t know. Maybe you even have friends in common.
The search is easy and you can see who else will be in the car with you if there is more than one seat offered and stalk them on facebook as well. Instead of cash like most of the other European rideshare sites, you pay through a paypal account which Zimride helps you set up if you don’t have one. And if your driver is a no-show, you can notify Zimride from your account page and get a full refund as you are charged when a driver accepts your request.
Craigslist’s rideshare portion of their site makes this list because of how widely known the website is. Although it will not win for website modernity or search ability (there is virtually no specific search option apart from searching a keyword), Craigslist may have the rides you are looking for simply because there is a better chance that someone has heard of Craigslist above other rideshare sites and may post their ride there.
Listed under the heading “Community”, I have used Craigslist’s rideshare a few times and never run into any problems, but I used it mainly for offering long-distance rides in my car to others.
If classic hitch hiking is more your style and you have ample time, I highly recommend the site:
The site offers tips, suggestions and prime locations for scoring a ride while hitchhiking. You can find out if hitchhiking in that specific country is even possible and how long you might have to wait before you will get picked up. It proved extremely useful for me while hitchhiking through Mexico last year.
Still no luck?
Before you give up, try these sites to see more of your available rideshare options. Some are designed more as a forum with rides posted without any particular categorization.
http://hitchhikers.org/ (Netherlands and Europe)
http://www.samakning.se/ (Sweden and Northern Europe)
http://www.burningmanrides.com/ (As the name implies, rides to Burning Man)