Though public transportation is a great way to get around, sometimes you need to take a taxi to get from point A to point B. A few tips for catching a ride safely:
- Call ahead. In many cities, you can never be entirely certain of a cab’s legitimacy. Forged paperwork and a little yellow paint can be enough to convince even the savviest of travelers. Call ahead to reserve a cab with a well-known operator. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even request the cab number from the company and double-check it before getting in.
- Buckle up. It blows my mind that many people don’t bother wearing a seat belt while riding in a cab. Yes, it might be a quick trip, but wouldn’t the fact that you are riding with a complete stranger who may or may not be a completely reckless driver be enough incentive to buckle up?
- Lock your door. I made the mistake of not locking my door one time traveling in a relatively safe, though very large city in South America. Five minutes into my ride, I was playing door tug-of-war with a guy on the street who had approached our vehicle. Lucky for me (and unlucky for our cab driver), when his accomplice had successfully snatched our driver’s wallet from the front seat, he ran off down an alley.
- Know the customs. In some areas of the world, chatting up the cab driver is a great way to get a local’s perspective. In other areas, however, it simply indicates that you are a foreigner and ripe for being taken advantage of. Do a little research into common customs to find out what’s expected where you’re traveling.
- Know your route. It may be difficult to know your way around a new city, but having a look at a map before getting in a cab is always a good idea. If you’re familiar with the direction and route you should be taking, you can prevent being driven around in circles and consequently paying more for your ride.
- Have small bills. Counterfeit bills are a problem in many parts of the world. One common scenario: you try to pay with a larger bill, the cabbie checks his wallet and declares he does not have change but then pockets your money and hands you back a bill reminiscent of Monopoly money. It’s too dark to notice, so you take it back unknowingly. Carry small bills to avoid the situation completely.
Photo courtesy of Chun Yang