Travel & Places Other - Destinations

A Beginner"s Guide to Taking a Taxi

If you live in a part of the world where taking a taxi is not a regular activity, the thought of getting in a car and trusting a stranger to get you to your destination might be intimidating.
For many people in the world, taking taxis are a part of their daily routine and a completely normal way to travel.
However, if you've never traveled by taxi before, you might have a lot of questions and fears about the norms, protocols and general guidelines for what to expect.
Here are some tips, tricks and general advice on why taxis are a great way to travel, what it's like to take a taxi and how to avoid getting ripped off by sneaky cab drivers.
Finding a taxi The first thing you need to know how to do is find a taxi.
Luckily, this practice is pretty similar in most parts of the world, where you can simply stick your hand out and hail one on the street.
Most taxis have a light in their front windshields that indicates they are free to pick up new passengers.
You might also notice some taxis slowing down or honking at pedestrians trying to offer a lift, which is another telltale sign that a taxi is free.
If a taxi flies past you, ignoring your hand wave, it's possible that it already has a passenger or is on a shift change, which usually happens in most cities at some point during the day.
Every place has a different style of hailing a taxi.
In some places, the locals wildly wave their hands, others stick their arms straight up in the air and flap their hands up and down, and in some places you simply hold your hand out near your waist to indicate a hail.
Look for other people on the street who might be hailing taxis and copy their technique.
In airports, train and bus stations, there are usually taxi ranks, where a line is formed and people get a taxi on a first-come first-served basis.
Arriving to a new airport or station, look for signs that show a car or say "taxi" to find the rank.
Knowing your way The next trick to taking a taxi is knowing your way before you get in.
Perhaps this seems unreasonable; after all, you are paying the taxi driver to get you there safely.
Nonetheless, it is foolish to blindly trust anyone in a strange city, even a taxi driver.
Like with anything, there are trustworthy and extremely wonderful taxi drivers out there, as well as jerks just out to rip you off.
Before you get into your taxi, you want to have a few bits of information on hand.
First of all, what is your destination? And I'm not talking a general name of a business, but an actual street address.
You should also know what area of town or which neighborhood you're heading to and the general direction you're expecting to go.
To learn this, study some maps.
Whereabouts in the city is your destination located? Are there any major landmarks, such as a river, skyscraper, park or museum that you should pass on the way? If you feel extremely uneasy, have a map of the city handy inside the cab and follow your route to make sure you're heading the right way.
This can be especially useful in cities where a language barrier prevents you from communicating very well with your taxi driver.
Meters, tipping and payment Most registered, legal taxis run on a meter system that tracks your mileage and calculates the total owed automatically.
Avoid taxis that don't run on meters and avoid touts or salesmen in unfamiliar stations or airports who try to lure you to their taxis - look for the official taxi rank instead.
In a lot of places, tipping a taxi driver is not necessary, as drivers are paid a regular hourly wage or salary and don't rely on tips to earn their living.
Read up on your destination beforehand to find out if tipping is the norm.
When in doubt, simply pay the fare on the meter and expect full change.
If you believe you are being driven off course or taken "for a ride", look around inside the taxi, as many cities and/or cab companies offer help lines for passengers that are being scammed or ripped off.
Also, the fares are usually sign posted on the windows of the taxi, so check to make sure that the meter fare matches the quoted fare on the window.
Communication The easiest place to be taken advantage of is in a strange city where you don't speak the language, but that does not necessarily guarantee that you will be taken advantage of.
When in a foreign city where you don't speak the language, collect business cards from your hotel or possible destinations to show taxi drivers where you're headed.
Keep phone numbers on hand in case you need someone to translate for a taxi driver and have a hotel receptionist or English-speaker write down your destination in the local language to show a taxi driver.
Most hotels and hostels also offer information on what the typical fare should be to a destination.
Likewise, you can often find the general taxi fares to and from the city on most airport websites under "Ground Transportation".
Types of taxis Taxis around the world come in all shapes and sizes.
Typical taxis are small sedans in uniform colors, often with a lighted sign on top that reads "Taxi" or the local linguistic equivalent.
However, depending on where you are, taxis might also be small trucks, tiny vans, three-wheel carts, horse-drawn carriages, boats or even bicycle taxis (known also as rickshaws or pedicabs).
Typically, fares for these types of small and unusual taxis is less than you would normally pay in a sedan taxi, but more than a public bus.

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