Hot off the Press Traveler's Toolbox
Nothing ruins your taste for a new destination like being scammed or overcharged the moment you step out of the airport. But before you get a little angry and write the entire country’s population off as crooks and criminals, it’s important to know that these airport scams happen around the world — in just about every country.
In 2010, over 2,000 New York City cab drivers were accused of conning their customers at least one time. Instead of putting yourself at risk of being conned out of a handful of those precious travel dollars (which could be spent on a pool-side pina colada), follow these few simple steps to avoiding airport taxi scams entirely.
1. Ask Your Hotel First
When you book your accommodations for your travels, be sure to ask about airport shuttle options. Some hotels or guesthouses offer free airport transfer, while others offer safe and stress-free transportation for a flat fee. Choosing accommodations with a free airport shuttle could save you big bucks on travel to and from the airport (two $50 airport taxis could be equivalent to one night’s stay at your hotel).
2. Take a Shuttle Van
Cut your airport travel expenses roughly in half by traveling in a shared shuttle van. Ask an airport employee where the shuttle vans wait outside the airport, then speak to the driver about your destination. The driver will take everyone who is headed to the same area in one van, and he’ll even drop you at the exact location you specify.
3. Dive Into Your Destination with Public Transit
Research public transit before you leave home. If public transit — such as a train or bus system — is safe in the area you’ll be traveling, it can be a very inexpensive way to dive into the culture and surroundings of your destination. If you’re still unsure about how to use the city’s public transit system when you arrive, the airport information desk can point you in the right direction.
4. If a Taxi Is the Best Choice, Do Your Research
Get a ballpark range of how much your transportation from the airport to your destination should cost before you leave home. Ask a friend whose been to the destination, do a Google search and read online forums or simply call your hotel or final destination to ask how much a cab from the airport should be. Sites like TaxiPrices.com can actually let you know how much it costs to get from a variety of major airports around the world to their city center.
5. Share a Taxi
When you’re standing outside the airport trying to choose your transportation, it’s likely someone else is too. If you’re headed to a popular hotel, tourist destination or the city center, there’s probably someone who would like to share a cab with you and cut their travel cost as well.
6. Always Choose a Licensed Taxi
Licensed taxis will have their taxi-driver’s license and photo on display inside the cab. While choosing a licensed taxi doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get scammed, it’s more likely that you’ll be conned by an unregistered driver who sits outside of the airport offering rides. If the taxi has a meter, be sure the driver resets the meter before you leave. If the taxi doesn’t have a meter, agree on a price before you get in and make sure that price is for all of your fellow travelers and luggage — not per-person.
7. Don’t Stress — Just Ask
The airport information desk can be a great resource for transportation advice. If you’re not properly prepared when you arrive at your destination, they can let you know your transportation options and give you a ballpark range of what each one should cost.