Traveling abroad, whether for a short business trip or on holiday, often involves the use of local taxi services. Although in most cases taxi drivers are people who honestly do their job, there are some situations where the problem occurs. In this article we will try to give some tips how to conduct yourself when using a taxi abroad.
Although you may be experienced with a taxi service in your country, it is certain that you feel a bit differently when you do it in the foreign country. Your first encounter with a new environment is often made via taxi driver. This meeting may determine the first impression of staying in a country. Here we particularly underline that first meeting, because it usually takes place in a situation where you are “vulnerable” – tired, just emerging from the airport, loaded with luggage etc. Cultural and linguistic diversity, and ignorance of the terrain, creates uncertainty for passengers which feel that taxi drivers view them as potential victims. In the vast majority of cases, of course, it is not so, but it won’t hurt to prepare yourself a bit in advance.
Before traveling (while your are still at home), check the Internet for usual prices of taxi services in the city in which you travel. Of course, you need not go into details but it is enough to gain some picture of the amount that you will pay. Since maps for many worldwide cities are now available on the Web, estimate the distance to the hotel from the airport (if you’re traveling by the plane). Familiarize yourself with names of some taxi companies in the city (search for city name including name of the service, for example. “Belgrade Taxi”) and try to remember some names, or at least logos and colors. Keep in mind that company that takes seriously its presence on the Web, probably also performs its services correctly.
When you come into a situation that you are looking for a taxi, you will most likely be with hands full of luggage, while taxi drivers will approach you, offering transportation. Do not rush with a choice. Look around and get in touch with the taxi driver whose appearance and vehicle gives the biggest confidence to you. Salute the man, and ask for the price of driving. You may agree to drive for a fixed price, or a metered one, but be sure to obtain information about the expected price and compare it with previous estimations you got from your research. Don’t forget to specify the currency in which you will pay.
Driving for a fixed price is more expensive than driving on the meter, but most frequently ensures that your taxi driver uses the shortest route to your destination. Make the agreements and about any other costs (luggage fee, tolls, etc.) in advance. Do not give up of the agreed price later. Here is where the language barrier may play a role, so if you can not communicate otherwise – use a pen and paper or even- fingers.
As for the security during the ride, the rules are fairly standard for all parts of the world. Store the large luggage in the trunk of the vehicle, and keep smaller bags (with documents and valuables) with you. It would be useful to prepare money for the ride ahead and put it in your pocket in order to avoid having to subsequently search for the wallet. Prepare a small change too, since taxi drivers seem never to have it. Taxi drivers prefer you to sit in the back seat, so respect it (except, of course, if you have more). Remember the name of taxi driver and vehicle number- just in case. If you get in a conversation, stick to light themes – discussion of politics has no place in a cab.
Like we said, the vast majority of cabbies are correct people, and tips shown above should just help you to protect yourself from dishonorable minority, which, after all, exists in all areas of life, in all parts of the world.