Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Beating the Festival Travel Blues with Social Travel

The year was 1995.  My best friend and I had travelled to England and it was going to be a summer of festivals and concerts as we tore up the London scene and went to Glastonbury and Reading festivals.  I’ll never forget that summer and we saw some of the biggest artists of all time including The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, PJ Harvey, Oasis, Live and Björk .

It was a dream for us coming from South Africa, a musical desert wasteland visited by only the dregs of the international music scene, a country where international bands only visit if they are dead or dying.  We saw over 50 bands that summer and that is what I’ll always remember.

Of course, try as I might, it would be nearly impossible to forget the coach ride to Glastonbury where we stood for two hours on the trip down from London and were dropped about 3 miles away from the campsite.  Walking for over 45 minutes with a massive backpack on your back? Not so much fun.

Or the time after Reading festival when we’d caught something seriously dodgy from the overflowing portaloos and there was no toilet on the coach back to London?  I was the lucky one because I got to spend the next week on a sofa in my aunt’s house as the effects of the portaloo plague worked their way through my body.  My friend was not so lucky.  Once we got off the coach from Reading, she immediately boarded an overnight coach to Amsterdam and spent much of the time in the on-board toilets.  I just feel so very sorry for the people that had to travel with her!

The truth is that travelling by coach is never really all that pleasant and if you have to deal with overcrowding, delays or sick fellow passengers, it is especially horrible.  Trains aren’t much better, as I learned the other day when I tried to travel up to Liverpool on a Friday night.  Purgatory can’t look much different to Euston Rail Station on a Friday night, I am sure of it.

There is no doubt in my mind that I would never travel by coach again and I would choose rail journeys very carefully.  This is extremely relevant now as I want to travel to festivals next year and I will avoid coaches at all costs. 

That is why I have been so interested in the launch of a new social travel sharing site BlablaCar.com.  Based on similar, successful sites in France and Spain, BlablaCar pairs drivers with empty seats with passengers looking for a ride.  It is a great way to save costs, meet new people and contribute towards saving the environment by putting fewer cars on the road.  Most importantly, it is safer than travelling with strangers.  BlablaCar have implemented a contact number verification system that will verify user’s mobile numbers and the social aspects of the site mean moderators can blacklist people who don’t share carpooling values.

See the video below for more information on how BlablaCar works.



Anybody can use BlablaCar and the service is free to use.  Of course, there is no doubt that the service is especially useful for students and BlablaCar is now launching on university campuses across the country.  Over 40 campuses in the UK have their own dedicated Campus website linking up university town drivers and passengers heading in the same direction.

To mark the launch, BlablaCar are hosting a competition to search for the most ‘car considerate’ university and they are offering a prize of £3,000 to the university club that is the most active on the site.  Interested clubs can email campus@blablacar.com to request an information pack. Check out the Campus website here.


Disclaimer: This is a Sponsored Post but all opinions and troublesome memories of traumatic bus rides are my own.


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