There is a certain appeal to using a taxi service when you travel, especially if you’re visiting a locale that you’re unfamiliar with. Cab drivers not only know how to get you from point A to point B, but they can do so in the most expedient manner because they know the back streets and they are tuned in to the rhythm of the city, which is to say, they know which areas to avoid at which times in order to bypass heavy traffic. If you don’t want to have to worry about where you’re going or how you’re going to get there, taking a cab is certainly the way to go. But it can be a bit pricy. So here are a few effective ways to cut costs and still get the stellar, door-to-door transportation service you’re seeking.
- Share rides. One of the easiest ways to cut the cost of a cab ride is by sharing with another rider who has a similar destination. If you can find someone at the cab stand at the airport or your hotel who happens to be heading the same direction, all you have to do is figure out which destination is closer and then have the taxi go there first. Whoever gets out can pay half the fare (plus tip), allowing you both to save money on the ride. Just be careful not to give too much information to any stranger you travel with, such as where, exactly you’re going, how long you’re going to be there, and so on. Sharing a cab can save you money, but the onus is on you to be smart and stay safe when you travel.
- Know where you’re going. These days, having a map app on your smartphone can save you some money by showing you the most direct route to your destination. Of course, your driver may know something you don’t – perhaps the most direct route has terrible traffic during the time of day you’re traveling, whereas taking the long way around will actually get you where you’re going faster and at less cost. It’s probably best to take the word of your driver when you’re in an unfamiliar place. But don’t hesitate to check a traffic app (if one exists for your locale) to make sure if you seem to be going pretty far out of the way.
- Comparison shop. As a consumer it’s your responsibility to make sure you get the service you want at a price you can afford. So take the time to call several cab companies in the area you’re traveling to ahead of time in order to get rate quotes. This will help you to find the best rates and you can book in advance (some companies will even offer better rates if you book ahead of time). And if the driver gives you a different quote, call the company back to confirm.
- Watch the meter. If you don’t want to overpay for taxi service, you should probably make a point of watching the meter to make sure you’re getting the correct rates for travel and idle time. You can also check the receipt (hopefully it lists the rates).
- Ask a concierge for help. Whether you’re traveling domestic or internationally, it’s not a bad idea to get a local perspective on the taxi culture. In some cities around the world, tourist gouging is a well-known practice. And if you’re looking to cut taxi costs it helps to have someone who knows how to navigate the local landscape (both cultural and geographic) on your side. A good hotel concierge can call a reputable and reliable service and tell them exactly where you’re going. He can also tell you how much a ride to your destination should cost, as well as how much is appropriate to tip. If you want an affordable taxi ride in an unfamiliar city, this is probably your best bet.