When you are travelling the world, at some point you will need to take a taxi. Sometimes it can be the cheapest way to get to your destination, or the most convenient – or sometimes it is the only option. If you take taxis while you are travelling, it is important to be aware of a few money-saving and safety tips.
It is a bit of a travel cliché that taxi drivers take advantage of tourists. They know that you are unfamiliar with the city and with how much things cost, so they will often try to charge you more than you should pay. In some locations, certain taxis can even be dangerous and there have been reports of tourists being driven to ATMs and forced to hand over the cash in their accounts.
In order to take taxis safely while you are abroad, make sure that you follow these 10 tips!
There might be unregistered taxis around and they might even offer you a ride for cheaper – but they are not held accountable to an official company so they are notorious for not following the rules. If you aren’t sure how to tell which taxis are official, ask a local or the concierge at your hotel. If you can, ask the hotel to call a taxi for you so that you know that you are getting a car from the legitimate firm.
If you have called ahead for a taxi, make sure that it is the one that you booked by asking the driver if he knows your name and destination.
When you get in, look for a radio to make sure that the taxi is legitimate. Also, in almost all countries around the world the driver will be required to have a ID badge on display. If there is not one, get out of the car. You should also make sure that there is a door handle on the inside, as this is a common way that some taxi drivers kidnap travellers. A real taxi will also have a phone number on the door, roof or trunk. Don’t get into one without a company phone number on it.
As a general rule, if a taxi driver is trying to negotiate a flat rate with you they are trying to rip you off. Make sure that you insist on the driver using the meter, so that you know that they are giving you a fair price. If the driver says the meter is broken, get out of the car and find another taxi.
Once you know a ballpark figure, you will be aware if someone is trying to scam you. Also, you should ask what the local expected tip is for taxi drivers so that you are aware of how much you should give your driver.
6. Be careful when you are putting your luggage in the back of a taxi.
There have been stories of taxi drivers who have waited until their passengers got out of the car, then sped off with the luggage still in the trunk. Keep your bag in the back seat with you if possible, or make sure that the taxi driver gets out with you to open the back when you stop.
This way, you will be able to see where your destination is and you will be aware of whether your driver is deliberately taking a long route in order to increase the fare. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you think the driver is taking you in the wrong direction.
If someone you don’t know has hopped in and suggested that you share the taxi, this should be a red flag. Often criminals will act in pairs in these situations. Unless you know the person, it’s best to politely decline.
Be very careful of getting into a taxi on your own when you are really drunk. It is the right decision to take a cab home when you are drunk, but make sure that you have a friend with you. If you are drunk, the ride in the taxi might cause you to fall asleep or become semi-conscious, which puts you at risk for being robbed or worse. Take a buddy with you who can stay awake and make sure you get back to your hotel safely. It goes without saying that you should moderate your alcohol while travelling anyway, so that you can be aware of your surroundings.
In some places an unscrupulous driver will attempt to short change you by returning your change in worthless or discontinued bills, or by giving you back the wrong amount of change. Being familiar with the local currency will help you to make sure that you get back the right change. If you need help, you can always ask the hotel staff to help you before entering the cab.
These are just a few very important tips to keep in mind when you are taking taxis on your travels. This is not meant to scare you away from taking a taxi, as most of the time they are a safe and convenient way to get where you are going. However, being aware of these types of risks is essential when you travel the world. Stay safe and have fun on your travel adventures!