Taking a cab abroad: 6 safety tips
What better way to get the feel of a new city than by sitting back and being chauffeured around it! A taxi can quickly become your best option for urban exploration, as long as you follow these safety guidelines.
Taxis are an ecosystem
Every major city has them – yellow cabs, black cabs, luxury vehicles, clunkers. Taxi drivers know the streets like the back of their hand and understand the written and unwritten rules of the road.
In general, taxis are a very safe option; however, some travellers do have bad experiences.
Before leaving, be sure to find out about the taxi service in the city you’ll be visiting. Online travel guides and forums are excellent sources.
1. Take an official taxi
Outside the airport, taxi drivers are often eager to get you into their car. Brandishing no valid permit, they will brag about their cheap fare to your hotel. Opt for a certified airport taxi - for a few dollars more, you’ll be in good hands.
Once inside the car, be sure to locate the driver’s photo ID and meter. Make sure the meter starts as the driver takes off. If there is no meter, negotiate your fare before leaving.
Is the driver avoiding eye contact? Is an indoor door handle or safety belt missing? Get out as soon as possible and take another taxi.
2. Don’t hail a cab, call one
Not only is hailing a cab unreliable, it comes at a cost, both in terms of cash and safety. Get the clerk at your hotel’s reception desk to call you a cab.
If you are in town, go to an official taxi stand. In exchange for a tip, hotels and restaurants will generally call one for you.
3. Visualize your itinerary
Is your driver taking unnecessary detours and is that landmark giving you a feeling of déjà vu? Be sure to have your itinerary on your smartphone for quick consultation. That way, you can give specific instructions and avoid seeming like a lost tourist.
Don’t speak the language? Write down your itinerary or ask a hotel employee to do it for you.
4. Get in the backseat
Taxi drivers often know a lot about what to see and do in their city. Even if you’re excited about speaking the language and learning everything about the city, remember to keep your distance, you’re not old high school buddies.
This is no time to ride shotgun. Get in the back seat. That way, your personal belongings won’t attract any undue attention and you can protect yourself from theft or assault.
Never get in a taxi that is already occupied.
5. Hide your valuables
Avoid showing off your wealth while travelling, especially in taxis and public transportation. Keep your phone, money, jewelry and passport hidden.
Always be discrete when sharing personal information.
6. Don’t venture off alone at night
If you’re heading back to your hotel after a wild night out, don’t risk dozing off in the back of a cab. If you think this might happen, ask a trustworthy person to share a cab with you. This piece of advice applies to everyone, but especially to women travelling alone.
Trust your intuition so you can enjoy everything your destination has to offer – safely!