Car Pool, Ride Share, Hitch Hike your way to Fun & Dollars


Love to DriveJan 26, 2011: We love to drive :). We don't own a Merc or a Beemer, we drive our sedan for the sheer joy of it. Driving through woods and around hills fills us with immense peace.

Yet there are days when we wished someone else was at the wheels so that we could relax for a while. Bad boss, uncooperative colleague, difficult deadlines, too many meetings - often build up a lot of stress. Imagine how risky it is if we had to drive on such a day when our nerves were already strained. To add insult to injury we could end up being late for dinner, courtesy bumper to bumper traffic. Sounds familiar?

There is a solution - Ride Sharing!

Feel good about it? Sharing a ride has quite a few benefits:
  • Car PoolIt is convenient and less stressful, since we don't have to drive every time. We get to relax, unwind or catch up on our sleep.
  • Instead of having a boring commute, each trip can be real fun if we have interesting conversations with our fellow riders.
  • We often get to know people and create friendships.
  • We could reach our destinations sooner due to carpool or HOV lanes.
  • Saves gas and is eco-friendly.
  • Has less greenhouse emissions which means cleaner air to breathe.
  • Last but not the least, you guessed it - saves quite a few bucks.
There are two kinds of ride sharing - commuting to work on a regular basis or an occasional trip to another city. We would like to share some resources for both types of ride sharing.

Commute

CommutePlenty of websites and free services exist to help with our commuting needs. Since commuting is a local phenomenon there are many city-based or local organizations providing carpool services to a particular region. Time to dust off the yellow pages!

Here is a list of few popular sites which could help solve our carpool needs:
Couple of services from California are Commutesmart serving southern CA and 511 for San Francisco Bay area.

Occasional Trip - Hit the road Mary!

Hitch HikeNeed a ride for the holidays? How about hitchhiking! Even though it has become rare these days (and illegal in some localities in US), we can still hitchhike on the web!

GishiGo and Ridester specialize in such long distance ride sharing services. Both sites employ a feedback system, thus raising the measure of confidence for its users.

GishiGo does not have any registration requirement, offers its services for 99 cents only and accepts payment via paypal. It works proactively with the police, US government and other government authorities to stop harassment.

At Ridester, registration, listing trips, and searching for trips are FREE. Only upon successful completion of a trip, Ridester collects a $2 ticket fee on the rider's payment and a 9.5% processing fee on the driver's asking price. They offer money back guarantees too.

Kindly read the fine prints and FAQs at above sites before using their services. More cross country listings can be found at ERideshare and Craiglist.

Beyond Boundaries - International Ride Share

Beyond BoundariesRidesharing is very popular among folks in Europe. Students, tourists and professionals alike, all do it. In general travel and gas costs are higher in Europe compared to US. Besides Europe is very well connected by roads and have good highways.

In case you have any travel plans in Europe, it may be worth checking out AutoStop. Ride with the locals, make some friends and get to know them, get a far better rideshare - convenient yet frugal!

Party Time - Event Based Car Pooling

Party TimeSome free services provide ride sharing information on an event basis. For example, if the annual Christmas party of your company is to be held at a certain arena, you could setup a virtual bulletin board and facilitate carpooling. One such website is Rideshare. Other sites offering similar services are Carpoolworld and ERideshare.

Safety - Mama said "Don't talk to strangers"

Strangers!How safe is ridesharing? Safety is a very legitimate concern. In case of commuting we know where the riders live, where they work and so on. It is certainly much safer. Chances are high that all the commuters reside in the same neighborhood. Not so for hitchhiking with a total stranger.

Whether we are the hitcher or the driver we need to exercise caution and use common sense. We have no idea about the rider's true identity, no background check, or validation of driver's license and insurance. Some planning and handy tips could be very helpful in this regard. At any time if we feel uncomfortable we should politely end the trip as soon as possible. All said and done, we feel that in reality it is safer than we imagine.

Have you hitchhiked lately? Are you a lifetime hitcher? Do you have a ride sharing story for others to read? Please feel free to leave your feedback for the benefit of all. Thanks in advance :).

Image Source(s): iStockPhoto

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