During my travels, I’ve found myself in a position where I just can’t quite make it work with my own two feet. I don’t consider myself a nervous driver, but I definitely prefer to keep to quieter roads. For example, I opted for Uber and Lyft instead of renting a car during my first Women In Travel Summit this past March in California. Why? I’m not one for driving on huge freeways with heavy traffic. However, when hopping cities or even countries, it can be overwhelming to figure out public transit or what the cab companies are for the area. So for those of you who – like me – who sometimes want to make the decisions a little simpler so you can better enjoy your trip, here are a few reasons why you should give ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft a shot.
No 1 :: It can be stressful driving in unfamiliar territory.
Travelling can be tense enough as it is, especially when you’re looking for a relaxing getaway rather than a boatload of adventure. Not knowing where you’re going can really increase the stress levels, and I’m not talking the in-an-unfamiliar-part-of-town kind. I’m talking new provinces, countries – continents even! Then there’s figuring out kilometres versus miles or vice versa. Language barriers can also add to the stress of driving. Just reading this list is making me sweat!
No 2 :: Traffic laws and signs vary.
As a result, you could be committing a traffic violation without even knowing it! For example, not having a temporary Vietnamese driver’s license or driving a rental car from say Austria into Russia. By leaving the driving to someone else, you don’t have to worry about accidentally disobeying the law.
No 3 :: Leave the extra fees that come along with renting a car behind.
Let’s think about it for a minute. When renting a car, there’s the base rental fee, then the cost of additional insurance on top of that. And what if you don’t get the insurance and something happens? That’s an even BIGGER bill to pay! Don’t forget that you always have to return the car with the same amount of gas as when received it. Then there’s the possibility of parking fees or toll roads. What may seem cheap can really start to add up!
No 4 :: You’ll meet interesting people… and cars!
With rideshare, I find you meet a greater variety of people. For example, some drivers also make it fun by adding a personal touch – like dressing in a unicorn costume on Saturdays. While I have yet to see the Ubercorn of Waterloo myself, I’m hoping one day I’ll be surprised! On top of fun stories like this, you might also get a ride in a sweet set of wheels – like I did in an amped up Audi in Germany!
By this point you might be thinking well, pretty much all of these can be conquered by just getting a regular taxi to which I respond – yes, this is true. However, ridesharing allows people who are possibly struggling or maybe just looking to earn a little extra cash do so without lining the pocket of a larger company. The sharing economy also allows for personal incentives, which leads me to my final point…
No 5 :: Referral discounts!
Ah, the sweet taste of freebies. With rideshares, you can be rewarded for referring new customers. While in California, I spent less than $30 in the two days I would have rented a car thanks to referrals and promo codes. If I had rented a car those two days? It would have cost me $50 per day. Need another example? Just this past week I referred my friend and we used it to get to our concert for free! How cool is that? You can get $15 off your first ride too by signing up with my referral link!
While apps like Uber and Lyft have had their controversies as well as their safety concerns, it doesn’t deter me from using them. I follow a few general rules of thumb to help ensure I have a safe and enjoyable ride while galavanting the countryside:
Tip 1 :: Always let someone know where you are going.
Whenever I’m in transit (ESPECIALLY solo), I always make sure to either let someone know ahead of time where I’m going, or text while in the car. This way someone is aware of my surroundings at all times and can help me out quickly if something does go haywire.
Tip 2 :: Try to avoid hailing a car around rush hour.
More often than not you’ll run into what Uber calls “surge rates” where there aren’t enough cars on the road to meet the demand. This leads to an increased fare that, if it’s really bad, can cost you a pretty penny. In general I try to avoid 8-10am and 4-6pm when possible. Surge fares are also common around concerts, sports games, etc, or when cities are busy with festivals. Plan accordingly to try and beat the surge fares.
Tip 3 :: Make sure your driver knows where to pick you up… or flail your arms.
A few times I’ve had a little bit of trouble connecting with my ride as they turned into the wrong driveway, entranceway, etc. I find best practice is to quickly send them a text to let them know any landmarks or suggestions to help make the pick up as smooth and quick as possible. Or when all else fails… flail your arms like a madwoman.
Just to clarify, I use ridesharing for short distance travelling where the cons of renting a car outweigh the pros. If I’m looking for longer distances like traversing the Icefields Parkway in Alberta or road tripping the southern shore of Iceland, then I’m making a beeline for that car rental! For short distances though, I’m all about Uber and Lyft! How do you feel about ridesharing for short distances? Have you used it before? If you haven’t, would you use it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!