Updated on March 26, 2014
Updated on March 26, 2014
Domestic transit is expensive. In fact, it’s one of the highest contributors to our expenses. We can fly half way across the world for peanuts so I’m hard-pressed to spend 180 Euros on a train ticket from Berlin to Hamburg. I’m much more comfortable with 15 Euros per person.
Turns out there are plenty of resources for carpooling here in Europe. Apparently many of these websites used to be totally free and now do come with some costs. The site we chose for our Berlin to Hamburg trip yesterday morning, blablacar.com, doesn’t have a fee for creating a profile or any such thing, but does allow people to list their price so to speak. Most people doing the Berlin to Hamburg drive were asking for 14 or 15 Euros a person.
Here are the sites we’ve used for car-pooling so far:
(I was going to include a list of others I haven’t tried yet, but there are SO many. I imagine a quick google search will do the trick but I’ll also update the above list whenever we try one out.)
Pretty simple though there are loops to get around (as seems true with everything). The tricky part about blablacar.com (and many of them) is that you receive your registration pin for using the website via text. Maybe this isn’t a big issue for people who plan ahead or for people who have phones that function internationally, but we use a texting app and apparently the site did not recognize our text-app’s phone number as a viable number. The only reason this was a complication is because we were working at it fairly last-minute. The night before we needed to make our trip, we Skyped Drew’s family, offered their phone number as the account number, and had them relay the pin number to us once they received the text.
I’ve heard that some sites like this require you have a phone number from that country to register, thus eliminating the carpooling site as an option for tourists. Luckily blablacar.com didn’t do that.
Our driver offered lots of good conversation, telling us more about the history of Germany and particularly the division between the Federal Republic of Germany (the capitalist West) and the German Democratic Republic (the Stalinist, Soviet satellite state). Once we got to Hamburg, he also gave us a quick, mini-tour before taking us to our hotel, explaining that the Alster Lake Festival was going on and showing us exactly where the festivities were happening.
I think that anything providing an opportunity to chat with a local about their town is a wonderful idea, as is saving more than 100 Euro on a trip.