Monday, February 10, 2014

Tip of the Day: Use Reputable Taxis That Are Air Conditioned; Don't Hail Taxis

As most of you know, I lived abroad a significant percentage of my adult life, in conjunction with my career in the US Foreign Service as a special agent and Regional Security Officer (RSO).  Most of those years were in hot and humid climates.

In all those years, one of the many tips I have learned in living abroad is that…

1. NEVER "hail" taxis on the street; 

2. Ask your embassy or consulate for the phone numbers of reputable, radio-controlled taxis;

3. If #2 above does not work, stay in a four-star hotel and ask the concierge for the number of a reputable taxi. Tip them well and you'll be well taken care of.

4. ALWAYS negotiate the fare in advance; and

5. NEVER take a means of transportation that is powered by hands and feet. Such "drivers" are often surly, argumentative and may even threaten you.

COMMENT: Many foreign travelers incorrectly believe that "smelling the city" or "taking in the fumes" gives you a flavor for the city that you happen to be in. Not true. If anything, polluted cities are commonplace abroad.

I don't recommend you're "hailing taxis on the street," particularly if in a developing country. Period.

The reason for not "hailing" taxis is that in many developing countries, taxis have been stolen by criminals, who use the taxis in large cities to prey on foreigners.

Additionally, developing countries have a very low per capita income. Thus, hailing taxis on the street can be dangerous for passengers who do not negotiate the fare in advance, resulting in verbal and even physical threats from taxi drivers.

Inasmuch as we're talking about ground transportation, I don't recommend that foreigners travel by pedicab, motorized "samlors" or any vehicle whereby the passenger(s) is/are vulnerable to physical threats. This particularly applies to solo women travelers.