The Reality of Craigslist Rideshares: Risk vs Reward

Craigslist has become so over-used that one often must submit about thirty applications in order to get a job. Ads I posted on Craigslist rideshare had numerous hits as well. I was looking for fellow travelers to venture with me nearly 3,000 miles from San Francisco to Juneau, Alaska. This time I was on the receiving end, and was able to sort through applicants in order to assemble the perfect group fit for adventure.

Rideshare allows the open-minded, but organized individuals to find passengers or hop a ride. One could easily cross continent in this manner, as people post their ventures near and far. There are many benefits of using rideshare; most likely want to split soaring gas costs, others just want company for the ride. I was seeking both of these in my quest, but mostly for like-minded individuals who were looking for adventure through glass windows and didn’t mind sleeping underneath the stars.

As I stated earlier, I read many e-mails of those interested in sharing a ride. After a few sketchy remarks as well as many dropouts, I arranged to drive three riders from Northern California to Portland and two from Washington to the Last Frontier. Of course I checked my sources, scrutinized riders on Facebook, sent extensive e-mails, as well as made phone calls. This is what makes rideshare credible and organized.

The plan was to leave bright and early Monday morning as soon as I emptied my room of its useless inhabitants and had a goodbye breakfast with my brother and parents. I first picked up Amaelle, the French girl who was practicing her English and thinking Vancouver. Next was an American lad with pointy shoes who instantly unzipped his Apple and plugged in his car charger.

We conversed, small talk, with music in the background until our first stop at a cherry stand: dollar-a-basket. Here a cute Swedish hippie girl, Nora, popped from a car driven by a farmer peeling his hairline for ticks. Now we had a full load, and were planning to drive until nightfall. Conversation and great music made for a pleasant few hours, squished into a soaring box on wheels.

A stop was made at Taco Bell for the ultimate American drive-through experience, as well as s’more ingredient pick-up. Then we continued along the winding 101 of southwestern Oregon, viewing white caps intercepted by protruding volcanoes of dark rock. The four of us began to get anxious as the sun was vanishing behind the horizon, so we jetted into a green moist canopy to make camp. Four strangers united through Craigslist rideshare sat surrounding a sparkling fire, munching husks of corn, sharing wine, stories and marshmallows. Then we disappeared into a large tent where our dreams mingled and bodies scrounged for warmth.

Though it didn’t seem time, we arrived in Portland the next afternoon where I dropped my three friendly riders, just hoping that the next ride would go so sweetly. A seemingly hardcore, but actually quite tender female with a shaved head and septum piercing hopped in first, followed by a stereotypical hippie and her canine in Vancouver. I wasn’t so into night driving, but we agreed to shimmy a few hours of dark coast before pitching tents. The next morning three more strangers awoke to a shredding waterfall across the highway, only to gaze in awe at Beautiful British Columbia landscape and form a seemingly tight bond.

The three of us were so similar and got along so well it seemed too good to be true. One of the greatest things about Craigslist rideshare may be the fact that it unites the unconventional and outlandish: those who are more than adventurous, but also trusting. We glided along highway chatting about social change, sustainable living, and mapped out our ideally perfect day with sweet tunes singing beneath. We stopped every night before darkness set, but Northern Canada is hardly affected by the dark of night during summer, making this very easy.

Every night we cooked over the fire and explored the land around us, forming a very special experience that will always glitter in memory.

Our route and places to stop:


Shannon Falls, British Columbia:

An hour north of Vancouver located just off the beautiful Sea to Sky Highway are a few beautiful waterfalls, the first being Shannon Falls. This highway is surely one of the most beautiful drives in the province and delivers unforgettable views. It should not be skipped on a road trip through BC.

Interstate 97:

I-97 North through BC between Prince George and the Alaska Highway allowed us views of numerous black bears, moose, bison, longhorn sheep, and mountain goats (just to name a view of the spectacular wildlife sightings!). Never in my life have I seen so much wildlife in one day. Incredible.

Beaver Pond Campground near Fort St John, Northern British Columbia:

This campground was free and completely empty. It was created on a pond with many active beavers. Upon arrival the beavers steamed over and put on a show, slapping their tails continuously. This was my favorite place we camped along the trip. I enjoyed the peaceful surroundings and energetic beavers, but the gigantic mosquitoes were certainly a pest.

The Alaskan Highway:

The Alaska Highway between Munch Lake and Liard Hot Springs allowed fusion of desert, forest, mountains, and crystal clear lakes, as well as many wildlife sightings. This is a beautiful drive that is highly recommended.


Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park:

These hot springs are located on I-97 just south of Yukon and were another favorite stop. While many hot springs have a pool built-up surrounding, these did not. Here you can enter the river directly from wooden steps and relax with ferns and moss surrounding. The park has a campground and springs are open 24 hours. Many travelers mentioned that this is their favorite hot spring to frequent in North America.


Theresa Soley Written by:

A recent graduate from the University of San Francisco with a B.A. in Biology, Theresa is embarking on travel aiming to uncover the connection between culture and wild environments. She believes that most social problems are linked to environmental ones, and hopes to one day work between the two realms. Her newest motto is "living locally in a globalized world". She needs to begin buying carbon credits for all her international flights abroad.