A Guide to Using Bla Bla Car Abroad

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A Guide to Using bla bla car abroad

A Guide to Using Bla Bla Car Abroad

Living in France for a year, I became desperate for a better way to get from one destination to the next. Sometimes trains and planes are out of your price range. You take plenty of bus rides and are annoyed with the long duration of those overcrowded trips. What drastically changed my traveler’s experience abroad was the discovery of the carpooling app called Bla Bla Car. Here is a guide to using Bla Bla Car abroad!

 Here is the recognizable Bla Bla Car symbol and app logo to search for on the App Store.

Here is the recognizable Bla Bla Car symbol and app logo to search for on the App Store.

1. You Need a Phone Number to Use Bla Bla Car

Bla Bla Car is available in 21 different countries, with the majority of them being in Europe. I used Bla Bla Car to travel in France, Poland, Belgium, Italy, and Spain. The app allows you to search specific routes (and by specific, I mean not just big cities; any location can be searched), and to find drivers who are going where you want to go.

To set up an account, you need to download the app from the App Store. You can link your Facebook account which will import your information and email. However, you need a functioning phone number to use Bla Bla Car. I had a French phone while I was living abroad, so it worked! If your cellular data is disabled while you travel abroad, you won’t be able to use it, unfortunately.

2. How to Use Bla Bla Car

Once you’ve downloaded and set up an account, you can fill in your profile with information about yourself that will make drivers more likely to accept you as a passenger. Then, you search your route, and check out the options for drivers who are already driving that route on the same day. Sometimes the route won’t be exact, or the time that the driver is leaving won’t match the time that you wanted, but you’re encouraged to message the driver and attempt to compromise.

I’ve had Bla Bla Car drivers go an hour out of their way to pick me up or drop me off closer to where I needed to go. I’ve had others who absolutely refused to change their pick up/drop off locations for me. It all depends on the driver. When I’m choosing someone, I always look first at the Best Trip option. This is sorted at the top of your search for what best fits your search parameters. If that doesn’t work, I check out the other options. It’s always better to choose a driver who has many positive reviews over someone who has none, or who has below 4 out of 5 stars.

 This is what the search page for carpooling on Bla Bla Car looks like, mine being in Spanish because I last used it in Spain!

This is what the search page for carpooling on Bla Bla Car looks like, mine being in Spanish because I last used it in Spain!

3. Why Use Bla Bla Car Abroad?

Bla Bla Car is one of the best ways of traveling in Europe. It is unlike any rideshare service that exists in the U.S., at least as far as I’m aware! It’s not like Uber or Lyft because it isn’t you ordering a ride and a driver taking you exactly where you ordered him to. Bla Bla Car is social. It’s a form of community. It’s called “Bla Bla Car” because you speak with the person driving you! You get to know them. You even become friends! It’s a social car-ride, swapping stories with strangers and using the duration of the trip meaningfully, instead of treating your driver like it’s a taxi ride. Bla Bla Car rates drivers on their profile based on how much they enjoy talking with their passengers. So “Bla” means they’re on the quieter side, “Bla Bla” means they love a good conversation, and “Bla Bla Bla” means you’ll know them better than your own sister by the end of the trip.

I’m not a terribly social person with complete strangers, especially when everyone is French and I’m American, and I can only understand 70% of what they’re saying, but I didn’t let social anxiety bar me from using the app. People were very interested in practicing their English, let me tell you! During my most recent trip to Spain for 5 weeks, I used Bla Bla Car many times. I don’t speak much Spanish, but I had such a great time meeting all the different drivers and practicing my Spanish comprehension!

Remember this Guide When You Go to Use Bla Bla Car!

Bla Bla Car is a carpooling app. So chances are, you won’t be the only passenger. Keep that in mind when choosing your rides (that is, checking how many seats are available on the ride, so you know how many strangers you could potentially be sharing it with). I’m a big, tall person, so I check out what kind of car it is and how many passengers the driver is accepting. I’ve had to share the backseat with two other people a few times, which always results in me being squished. Other times, I had the entire back seat to myself and was able to lie down! You can keep checking and refreshing your ride to see if the driver has accepted passengers other than yourself.

Bla Bla Car isn’t perfect. Sometimes rides get cancelled at the last minute and leave you with no way to get to your next destination. Keep refreshing the search! New rides are posted all the time. My advice is don’t wait until the last minute to book your ride if you already have all the details figured out. Prices raise at the last minute and you risk losing that specific ride! Also, not every driver is a saint. That’s why it is so important to read reviews! It may be a few dollars more to book a better driver, but it’s worth it. You don’t want to sit on a car-ride with some creepy bald guy who calls you beautiful and stares at you in his peripheral for three hours (been there, ugh).

 Here is my review page from some Bla Bla Car trips I did in France back in 2015.

Here is my review page from some Bla Bla Car trips I did in France back in 2015.

Oh, silly me, forgot to mention the best part of Bla Bla Car: THE PRICE! It is extremely cheap (at least compared to ride services in the U.S.). I paid around 7-10 euros every time I would take Bla Bla Car from the center of Paris to the airport in Beauvais, which is 80 km (50 miles) north of Paris! I paid 40 euros ($47) to take a Bla Bla from Valencia, Spain, to Seville, Spain, which is a staggering 654km (406 miles) apart!

I’ve paid $80 for an Uber from JFK airport in New York to Manhattan before, and that distance is only 27 km (17 miles). There’s some perspective for you!

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 Writer of this article is Heather, 24, co-founder of the Female Travel Collective.  She used to live in California, NYC, and Hawaii, and is currently traveling. Follow her along on her  Instagram !

Writer of this article is Heather, 24, co-founder of the Female Travel Collective.  She used to live in California, NYC, and Hawaii, and is currently traveling. Follow her along on her Instagram!

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