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Taxi Survival 101

Taxi Survival 101

A Quick How To Guide To Getting a Taxi and Not Getting Ripped Off

Photo Courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Taxis are everywhere.  Depending on where you live in the world, it is quite possible that you have taken a taxi (cab) at least once before.  If not, you will likely in the future.  Handling taxis at home is one thing.  You know the language, price norms, and cities.  Taking a taxi while traveling on the road is another.  Especially after adding language and currency barriers.  It does not have to be impossible though.  There are some norms cross-culturally that can help you to get around.

My inspiration for writing this post has mainly risen from my experiences with cabs.  I have taken taxis within the USA and many countries abroad.  Most have been fair while others have ripped me off pretty good.  The ones that ripped me off left a bad taste in my mouth as there is really nothing that I cannot stand more than being taken for a chump.  Therefore, I compiled a checklist of things that I realized would greatly reduce my chances of it occurring again.

Here is a list of 3 things that I suggest you do when taking a taxi or cab:

  1. Always agree upon a location before getting into the vehicle.  Assure that the driver has understood your destination point and knows exactly where you want to go.  This can avoid hassle later and wasted driving time, which could cost you big.
  2. Always check for a metered fare.  Metered cabs ensure that you are getting the local fare price for the ride.  If a taxi is unmetered, do not enter unless you have firmly agreed upon a price.  If the price offered seems too high, then it probably is.  You should simply opt for another cab at that point.
  3. Do your research before you visit a new city or ask a local the prices that they generally pay.  They will give you a ballpark figure, which will help you in negotiations.
  4. Be quick in thinking in another currency.  You need to know the prices you will pay in their currency not your own.  Negotiation requires quick conversions.
  5. Always do a once (maybe even twice over) to ensure that nothing has fallen from your bags or pockets.  If you leave it, you will not likely see it again.

This list can apply to most anywhere in the world.  However, it is not inclusive.  It deals primarily with the price of taking a taxi.  Below are some more tips and suggestions that may help you.

Additional tips:

  • If you ever have doubts about an individual driver, then take another cab.  If you cannot, then look/or ask for credentials.
  • Ask locals about the prices that they pay to give you an idea about what to pay.  It may help to ask for distances and times.  For example, a 10 minute cab ride would cost?  A taxi from here to here would cost?
  • If you cannot find a good deal on a cab, have a local (friend/acquaintance) arrange an agreement for you.
  • Be firm with pricing.  If the cab does not use a meter, have a ceiling price and do not budge.
  • In some parts of the world, people alone in taxis are assumed to be foreigners.  Therefore, do not display valuables on the seat.  I have heard of stories where people left a purse or bag on the seat, when stopped the taxi window was broken and their bag was stolen.  Either leave your bags in the trunk/boot or put them under your feet.
  • If you are unable to communicate the location of your destination to your taxi driver, then it is never a bad idea to carry a map with you to point out the exact location.
  • In serious foreign languages, ones that are very different from your own, I have found that carrying a piece of paper and pen helps when negotiating prices.  You each write a price until you agree on one.
  • Be aware that illegal cab operations, commonly called gypsy cabs exist.  They are not particularly more dangerous or anything, but there is not always record of who the person is.  Some people work on their own, where others work through a company, but off the record.  Therefore, it could be much more shady, and worst of all is that no one has a record of them picking you up.  There is no one to complain to and no one to look after you.  The best way to tell the difference is look for credentials.  A cab driver is required to provide credentials if asked.

What are your good or bad experiences with taking taxis?  Have you ever been ripped off by a taxi driver?  Tell us about it below.

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