Safely Finding a Carpool Buddy for Road Trips

Finding a carpool buddy for an 8 to 12 hour drive to my hometown, sunny San Diego, was a challenge when I first moved to Chico a few years ago. I was still so new to the town and a majority of my classmates and friends were either originally from Northern California or the Bay Area. Luckily enough, my research on safe rideshare products quickly led me to the solution to all my worries — Zimride.

Zimride is a fantastic rideshare service that uses social networks, like Facebook, to enable real connections between drivers and passengers. Within seconds, I had my Zimride profile connected to my Facebook and a ride posted from Chico to San Diego for a trip home for a warm winter break. Potential passengers were alerted via email about my post and contacted me within hours. It only took a few hours before I found two friendly students who kept me company and paid me $100 a seat for rides to Southern California and back.

Katrina’s car has driven up and down the state of California at least 10 times since she moved to Chico from San Diego. Photo credit: Katrina Cameron

Here are my tips for using rideshare products:

1. Make sure to check the driver’s or passenger’s social media
Getting in a car with a stranger is probably against everything your parents ever told you. Make sure you feel totally comfortable riding with this person by scoping out their social media profiles on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. One of the reasons why I felt so at ease using Zimride is because it requires that users sign up with Facebook because it adds credibility to a profile.

2. Exchange phone numbers and chat before making a decision
You might be too busy packing for the trip to meet in person, but a phone call also helps verify that the driver or passenger is credible. A casual conversation about where to meet up, what kind of music each other enjoys and where to grab a snack while on the road is usually enough to help me decide how I feel about a passenger.

3. Set a reasonable price
We’re all trying to save money here, so keep the prices reasonable. I typically ask for $50-$75 for a ride to San Diego from Chico, but it varies on the cost of gas and how many passengers I have. Zimride usually has a pretty accurate suggested price that most drivers and passengers use.

4. Pay or get paid safely
Ride payouts via PayPal are super simple and safe. Zimride requires that passengers pay drivers through PayPal, which protects them from flaky drivers. The passenger’s credit card is charged as soon as the driver accepts the request and can be refunded if the driver doesn’t show up. Drivers get paid via PayPal one day after the ride is complete.

5. Don’t be afraid to stay in touch
A car ride with a total stranger can sometimes lead to great friendships. Don’t be afraid to stay in touch with your new carpool buddy if they made the ride enjoyable. That driver or passenger will likely be heading to that same destination again, so let them know you’d like to save a seat for the next trip.

Don’t forget to leave friendly feedback! Seeing a thumbs up and recommendation after such a long drive or ride is very satisfying.

Tips for Concert-Goers from a Music Lover

Many of my fondest memories were made at various music festivals and concerts. I’ve experienced a wide array of concert-going events and my friends often ask me to take them to their first big show because I “know the ropes.” Since I’ve introduced several friends to the wonderland of large-scale music events, such as Electric Daisy Carnival and Vans Warped Tour, I know my list of concert do’s and don’ts by heart.

Whether the show features rockin’ bands, upbeat electronic DJs, relaxed reggae or all of the above — it is always important be aware of yourself, your friends and your surroundings. Although the overall experience typically differs by show or music genre, a majority of my concert safety tips remain the same.

Here are my top five safety tips for attending music festivals:

  1. Stay hydrated: Concerts are hot and attendees often don’t realize they’re dehydrated because they’re having so much fun. I recommend buying a water bottle as soon as you enter the venue and refilling it often throughout the night. Water bottles are often overpriced at events but some event companies, like Insomniac Events, sell sustainable aluminum water bottles and offer refills. Although it may be hard to pry away from the music to replenish your water, your safety is worth it.

  2. Photo credit: Petras Gagilas
    Photo credit: Petras Gagilas

  1. Buddy system: Large crowds and loud music can separate groups of friends much faster than some may think. Wandering alone around a stadium filled with more than 100,000 people can lead to looking like a target for assault or theft. From the moment you walk through security to the point you get back to your hotel, make sure to have a friend with you at all times.

  2. Charge your phone: Refraining from posting about your amazing festival experience on Instagram and Twitter might be difficult, but it’ll be worth it at the end of the night when you’re looking for the friends who strayed away. One time I waited at a friend’s car for three hours after the show ended because both of our phones died and he forgot where he parked. Stressing out over losing touch with everyone else can definitely damper your fun.

  3. Know the venue: Festivals and concerts are typically hosted in large, confusing venues. This is especially true for festivals that feature multiple stages and require a lot of trekking from stage to stage. Luckily enough, most event promoting companies post a map of the show and set times ahead of time. I recommend taking a screenshot of the map and set times on your phone so it’s with you at all times. This also helps you plan out which artists you would like to see and know where they play ahead of time.

  4. Photo credit: Wil Kristen
    Photo credit: Wil Kristen

  5. Designate a driver: Don’t risk getting in a car with an intoxicated driver and don’t drive under the influence. Festivals and concerts often have a hefty police force surrounding the venue before and after events because this has become such an issue. If you can’t find a sober driver, remember that paying for a taxi is always more affordable than getting caught driving under the influence, which can cost thousands of dollars in California.