Ride-sharing to holiday destination gains popularity
Ride-sharing is becoming popular, also for vacation travel. Since the beginning of this summer, 110.000 Belgians have already used the Blablacar carpooling service, mainly to go on holiday. In Belgium, the originally French platform, which recently expanded its services with bus travel, already has half a million registered users.
Blablacar carpoolers travel an average distance of 300 kilometers. Paris, Lille, Strasbourg, and Luxembourg are the most popular destinations from Belgium. But the Mediterranean area is no exception. And not only young, single people use the app, more and more 40-somethings and over are also joining.
The popularity of ride-sharing isn’t limited to Blablacar. French company Mobiscoop also saw an increase in its figures. In July, 25% more rides were offered, and 35% more journeys done. The company notes two types of trips: short and regular ones for commuters, and longer ones for holidaymakers. The former decrease in the summer period, the latter increase.
Since the beginning of the year, the number of Belgians registered on Blablacar has risen by 30%. According to Blablacar France and Benelux director Audrey Wolfovski, there are different reasons for the success. “It’s a more and more widespread mode of transport because of its ease of use, constant pricing, and the possibility to reserve at the last minute.” Carpooling also decreases traffic and therefore, pollution.
Users are attracted by the price, both drivers offering rides who get to recuperate part of their costs, as passengers who get to travel cheaper. Other plus points are a low environmental impact and the ease of use and direct access to cities. When taking a plane or train, travelers often have to use different modes of transport to get to their destination. Carpooling often brings them directly to their final destination.
Ride-sharing is also a social way of travel. Users find long distances less boring when they have someone to talk to and want to meet new people. Because there are users of all ages and with different backgrounds, it is also a way to meet a different kind of people they would usually meet.
According to the doctor and Uliège professor in anthropology Chris Paulis, carpooling corresponds to the philosophy of the current society, in search of economic and ecological benefits. But people also want to connect.
“Today, people need to re-establish human contact, and carpooling is seen as anti-loneliness. Choosing this mode of transport guarantees encounters. When traveling by train or other modes of transport, this is less certain,” explains the anthropologist.
The need for adventure is also leading people to ride-sharing. “People are more and more occupied with work, housekeeping, and their kids. They are looking for ways to break the routine, starting from the road to vacation. By carpooling, they have the impression of going on an adventure, since they will be traveling with a stranger,” says professor Paulis. Carpooling also makes people travel lighter, instead of packing up too much stuff and recreating their home environment on holiday and continuing the routine.
The heterogeneity of the people using ride-sharing to go on holiday doesn’t surprise Paulis. “For older people, it is nostalgia, like a return to the hitch-hiking they did when they were young. It’s a kind of refound liberty.” And just like young people are on a budget, pensioners often also have a limited budget.