Travel is rewarding but it can be expensive. For free accommodation, people have resorted to couchsurfing or WWOOFing (your free labour for free food and housing), but you’d still have to pay to get from Point A to Point B. That’s where Hit the Road comes in handy.
When Aislinn O’Grady and her husband moved across the country from Ontario to B.C., transportation was a concern. The couple didn’t have a vehicle to move to Kelowna. Even if they did, the gas for the drive would cost a pretty penny.
Through Hit The Road, the couple made the move without paying for a moving truck, a rental vehicle or gas.
Call it luck or serendipity, but a year before the move, O’Grady had met David Smaller, owner of Hit The Road. Smaller’s business started as an offshoot idea of drive-aways, vehicle-moving companies that transported vehicles with a hired driver. Through past jobs in social work and sales, Smaller found driving other people’s vehicles was a great way to see the country on the cheap. So instead of hiring drivers for Hit The Road, Smaller promoted free travel to attract drivers. And that’s how O’Grady had the chance to try it.
“He told me that if I ever wanted to drive, I should contact him,” said O’Grady. “A year later I needed to move from Toronto to B.C. so I contacted him. And he said ‘Great! I’ve got a car for you.’”
While friends were the first to respond when he started five years ago, Smaller’s driver database quickly grew through word of mouth.
“I have drivers who are university students, European backpackers, people who are moving for work and want a cheap way to get out west,” said Smaller. “It actually works out quite well because around the same time, I get a lot of cars to B.C. and a lot of Ontarians who want to get to B.C. to work in the summer.”
Potential drivers are screened using a rigorous selection process. Documents such as a photocopy of the driver’s licence, a driver’s abstract from ICBC, a photocopy of a passport and academic or professional references must be provided. A security deposit is also required.
“Once the car is safely delivered in a timely manner as directed, they get their $500 deposit back when they drop the car off,” said Smaller. In addition, the owner pays the driver a predetermined amount after the vehicle is delivered that covers at least the cost of gas. Depending on the arrangement, it may even include a bit of spending money.
In O’Grady’s case, they even got the space they needed. “We were moving and we had a bunch of stuff that we had to put in the car,” said O’Grady. “The (vehicle) we ended up taking was a minivan so there was a lot of room in there for our stuff. It was really a perfect fit.”
“It’s a really good way to take a road trip. You don’t put any kilometres on your own car and you get to drive,” said O’Grady. “It’s great! I really recommend it to anyone.”