A few weeks ago, I went to Paris for a weekend. (Oh, the perks of living in Europe: just casually heading to Paris for a day or two!) I took the plane to get there, but had booked a Eurostar ticket for the return leg. However, just when I was getting ready to leave Friday night, I realized that I had not booked my Eurostar return ticket for Monday, like I was supposed to. Instead, I had accidentally booked the ticket for the wrong day—Tuesday.
I panicked: not only did I not have a place to stay for Monday night, I also had to get back in time for my classes on Tuesday. I called Eurostar, who unsympathetically told me that with my non-refundable, non-exchangeable ticket, there was nothing that they could do for me. I looked up bus fares and plane fares, as well as a last-minute Eurostar ticket for Monday, but they were all much more than I was willing to pay. What to do then? Carpooling, also known as ridesharing, was the solution!
Getting into the car of a stranger found on the Internet? Does this not sound like the obvious recipe for danger? In retrospect, I suppose it does and I wondered why I ever decided to do this in the first place. However, I had used this service quite a few times before when I was an au-pair in Germany (and now I’ve used it in France); it was quite popular and common, and (fortunately?) I have never encountered a single problem.
How ridesharing works:
1. Driver travelling from Point A to B posts their information online, including route, contact details and suggested contribution amount for gas.
2. Interested riders (you!) contact the driver for more details and ultimately arrange a ride.
For cash-strapped travellers, this can be a much-more economical option. For example, with one-way train fares from Fulda to Würzburg starting at €19, it seemed much too expensive for a simple day trip. Instead, I carpooled both there and back, contributing just €7 per leg for gas and thus making this a viable day trip option.
As with anything, there is a certain degree of risk involved, of course, with sharing rides with “random” strangers whom you met on the Internet. As long as you use your common sense, it will undoubtedly be fine!Add this article to your reading list