Prevent Taxi Rip-Offs: Read These Tips Before Your Next Trip

Travel — By on December 11, 2013 at 6:52 am

Beware of taxis in foreign countries. Read these tips for a safer trip.

By Kathy Steinemann

Language, exchange rates, and taxi hire procedures may confuse you when you travel to a foreign country. However, transportation via taxi is a necessary part of many trips abroad. These tips will help you avoid several potential problems.

Before your next vacation, spend some time on the Internet to research taxi scams in your intended destination country. Did you know that in some areas you could be arrested and imprisoned over a dispute with your taxi driver? It pays to be informed.

Here are several tips that could save you aggravation and money.

• Learn a few words in the foreign language of your destination country:
-Thank you
… and anything else you might need for simple communication.

• Carry sufficient small bills and coins in the native currency. Some cab drivers can’t (or won’t) make change.

• Familiarize yourself with exchange rates so that you’ll know if you’re being swindled.

• Using the local language, record your destination address somewhere. An airport employee, the hotel concierge, a waiter, or a bilingual businessperson should be able to provide assistance.

• Call the front desk of your hotel and ask them for an estimation of the fare to get there from your current location.

• Carry a paper map with you and note the route to get to your destination. If the driver heads in the wrong direction in an attempt to run up the fare, you’ll be aware when it happens. If you can’t decipher the map, ask a local to mark the way for you. Sometimes a driver will take a detour that actually saves distance or time in the end. Ask questions if you have any concerns.

• Hire only licensed taxis booked in advance or through a designated taxi stand.

• If uniformed airport personnel are directing people toward taxis or shuttles, it’s a good indication that the drivers will be reliable.

• If a taxi doesn’t look like the others in the line, it could be a fake. Choose a different cab.

• Verify the cost before getting into the taxi. If you’re traveling in a group, confirm that the charge will be for the entire group, not per person.

• Conspicuously record the cab’s license number and driver’s name, as well as the taxi company and its contact information. The mere knowledge that you have these details will keep some otherwise shady drivers honest.

• If there are cab company business cards in the back seat, take one and stow it in a pocket, purse, or wallet.

• Hire a taxi with a meter, and make sure that the driver turns it on at the beginning of the ride. Also, ensure that the meter hasn’t started running before you get into the vehicle.

• If you’re carrying baggage that will fit in the main cab with you, don’t stow it in the trunk. Unscrupulous drivers sometimes hold your luggage hostage while trying to haggle over the fare.

• When you leave the hotel, take one of their business cards with you. It’ll contain all the information you need to hire a cab for your return trip.

• A good cabbie can often provide information about local sights, quality restaurants, and shopping. If you’re happy with the service, leave a generous tip. Cab drivers are usually hardworking people working for a low wage, and they’ll be appreciative of your generosity.

• If you plan to make numerous local trips, a rental car might prove cheaper than taxi hire. Investigate your options before making a decision.

For more travel tips, read Kathy’s recent books: “Top Tips for Packing Your Suitcase” and “Top Tips for Travel by Air“. With their convenient e-book format, you can load them on your smartphone, e-reader, tablet, or laptop – and take them along with you when you travel.

(c) Copyright Kathy Steinemann

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