All over the world, no matter where you travel, taxis are sure to be a feature of life in any big city. From the black checker cabs of London, to the hordes of yellow taxis in London to the widely diverse vehicles of Beirut, if you’re a traveler, you’re sure to find yourself in the back seat of a cab during your trips. In New York City alone, yellow taxis provide an average of 485,000 trips each day.
There are a few tips that can help your taxi experience to be more secure, safe and economical, no matter what city you’re traveling through. Keep in mind these guidelines, and you’ll be ready for experienced taxi travel almost anywhere in the world.
1. Use the Metered Rate
No matter where you are or when you are traveling, if cabs have meters installed, it’s almost always better to use the metered fare. According to Affordable Taxi, don’t make separate arrangements for a set fare or price for a trip that is usually metered; it’s almost guaranteed to be a bad deal for you and also highlight your inexperience with cabs in the city. You’ll pay the price that locals pay when you use the metered rate and avoid a “tourist tax” that often applies when you negotiate prices to unfamiliar destinations.
In the same vein, it’s always better to have local currency available to pay for your taxi ride. Don’t perform on-the-spot currency conversions in the taxi or expect the driver to provide a good exchange rate! Have the cash you need on hand to pay a taxi’s regular metered rate, including small bills.
(Of course, this depends on taxis having a meter; in some cities, there’s a standard flat rate. In Beirut, a private taxi anywhere inside the city is 10,000 LL. Just check online about your city’s taxi rules.)
2. Get the name and number of a cab company
Some cities are great for hailing a taxi on the street: you can almost always find a taxi when you’re looking. In other cities, unoccupied taxis may be harder to hail on the street, you might be far away from an official taxi stand or you may need a taxi at uncommon hours. Have the phone number of a reputable taxi company on hand to make sure that whenever you need a taxi, you can call and get a cab.
Even if you need to ask for help from a friend, hotel or restaurant employee or other person with translation into the local language, which a cab company number will ensure you’re never without access to transportation. You can look online, ask friends or ask in your hotel for recommendations for a reliable, 24/7 taxi company. Keep the number with you on paper as well in case your phone battery dies and you need to use a phone elsewhere.
3. Download a specialized taxi app for your smartphone
From the major international apps like Uber and Lyft to the many localized taxi apps in cities around the world, downloading a helpful app to your smartphone can make all the difference in securing a taxi at an affordable and accessible rate. While Uber and Lyft rely on independent drivers working as contractors in many cities, taxi apps like TaxiBeat in Athens, BITAKSI in Istanbul, GrabTaxi in Malaysia, EasyTaxi in Brazil or MyTaxi in Spain can help you get a taxi quickly and easily. You can choose independent contractors or regular licensed taxis, depending on the app and the requirements of the city or country. In Athens, for example, TaxiBeat drivers use the same meter as all other licensed cabs, but participating in the service means they’ll have a GPS in the car – an important convenience if you’re exiting the heavily-trafficked center. Sometimes you can ensure you’ll find a driver that speaks your language or even pay by credit card inside the app.
With these simple tips and just a little bit of advance preparation, you’ll be in great shape to take a taxi wherever you find yourself in the world. Happy travels!