Is Travel Sharing for You?

We all know that travel is getting more expensive every year. Airline and rail passes have increased dramatically in just the last few years, and while petrol prices have fluctuated wildly, they always seem to keep going up. For the budget-conscious traveler, the option of saving a few (or quite a few) pounds by splitting travel expenses with a fellow traveler, car sharing or car pooling, which has been around almost as long as cars themselves, is realizing an ever broader level of popularity. What was once an informal arrangement between friends has begun to expand dramatically, thanks in no small part to Internet businesses and social networking sites that cater to prospective riders’ and passengers’ needs. 

How car sharing works
Say you need to go from your home in Bristol to London to meet with clients or visit friends. To cover the 190 kilometers by train, you will pay anywhere from roughly £25 to £89. By comparison, the cost of fuel for an average motorcar will be in the vicinity of £20. By comparison, one could end up paying much less were they to share expenses with a driver who was going in the same direction anyway. And for those who don’t know anyone who happens to be headed their way, there are several online businesses that cater to the riders and drivers who wish to connect. A few worthy of note are:

According to the Bla Bla Car website the average amount that an individual would be charged by a car sharing driver on the Bristol to London journey would be approximately £9. Of course, arrangements made between individuals without using one of the services mentioned could vary dramatically, especially since such charges would not likely be under the same regulatory restraint as is applied to commercial services. At any rate, the potential for savings is significant!

There are, of course, other items to consider when deciding whether car sharing might be right for you, whether you are the driver or the passenger.

  • Schedule – are both parties in agreement and satisfied with the departure time, pace, and planned stops along the route? If nothing else, it could become problematic if a passenger had to make frequent “pit stops” found themselves paired with a driver blessed with a large bladder (or vice versa).
  • Personalities – It’s been said that you don’t really get to know a person until you’ve taken a long road trip with them. If you’re the introspective type, you probably wouldn’t enjoy spending hours in the car with someone who tends to chat incessantly. Conversely, if you tend toward the gregarious, hours spent in close company with an individual who has the personality of clotted cream could prove to be a form of torture.
  • Individual ideologies – If one of you is an avowed conservative and the other a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, or one of you is devoutly religious and the other an affirmed atheist, those differences in perspective could well turn into heated disagreement after a few hours of captive close proximity. Not a recipe for a pleasant journey, by any means.

Naturally these are extreme examples, and while you might not experience anything so dramatic, you should remember that being closed up with another person – particularly someone you don’t know all that well – can tend to bring out something other than the best in each of you. However, websites like those listed above do make an effort to ensure that the potential for such difficult situations are minimized, by asking members to indicate any preferences they might have, and allowing all involved to screen potential riders and drivers accordingly.

And for the adventurous, embarking on a journey with a new acquaintance can present an opportunity to broaden one’s horizons, and even possibly make a new friend. If nothing else, the driver is provided the means of cutting his or her petrol costs, and the passengers get to save a considerable amount as compared to increasingly expensive train fares.

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