Taxis are one of those things that you can find in every country. They can be tricky sometimes, especially with language barriers so its important to know what you’re getting into before getting in the car.
Step 1. Don’t get ripped off
Here’s a few examples of me getting ripped off so you can learn from my mistakes.
In Ghana, drivers will tell you the price of the fare before you get in the car. Sadly, when we arrived he turns around and doubles the fare that we agreed upon then wouldn’t let us out of the car till we payed. In Portugal, I was told a flat rate of 80 euros to the airport only to find out it cost 15 on Uber. Damn you George and your tailored suit. In Greece, after a night of drinking that would end at a club named Banana where I found shirtless men taking pictures next to a bathroom mirror, I paid triple the price because the meter was never on.
So what can you do about it.
Step 2. Research
Taxis are different all around the world. In Japan, drivers have a certain prestige to them, wearing suits and white gloves, treating passengers with the upmost respect. In Western Europe, you will often find yourself in a shiny Mercedes. In Hong Kong the taxis are boxy Toyotas, so boxy that electric cars would make fun of it for not being aerodynamic. At the end of the day, just like with most things, do basic research. A simple google search will tell you all you need to know about what to expect when taking a taxi in a new country such as normal fare prices and common scams that occur. That’s not to say that these drivers who are scamming tourists are evil, they’re just making an extra buck on someone else’s ignorance. Its like buying something without checking the price on Amazon first. Its just common sense.
Step 3. Talk to the driver
Now that your in the car, you could put on headphones and listen to Justin Timberlake bringing “SexyBack” on repeat or you could learn something from a local source. What am I saying? Of course we all are going to choose JT over a conversation with a stranger but I urge you all not to. Taxi drivers have a wealth of information that one can take advantage of. Learning simple phrases in the local language, local and non-touristy areas to visit and explore, and local customs can all be done within a short car ride.
As a kid, I used to want to be a taxi driver. Driving around, listening to the radio, and meeting new people seemed like the perfect job. Then I watched Guardians of the Galaxy. Now I want to be a space pirate. I digress, most taxi drivers are honest people trying to earn a fare wage. Treat them with respect and have a conversation with them, you will learn something new. Except for George, screw you and your receding hairline.