Abroad Perspective: Taxi!

Getting around while on vacation deserves some planning. Bigger cities around the world are bound to have a good taxi-network. Although I am not the biggest fan of taxis at home, I do have to admit that using this mode of transportation during your trip can create some lasting memories.

No matter where your travels take you, it seems as if cab drivers and their cabs change as much as the scenery. Here are some of my encounters:

I’ve been on taxi rides where the taxi driver could barely see over the steering wheel, even with the help of a pillow. The fact that he was folding out a giant city map while driving did not make us feel much better. Somehow we never made it to the pizzeria near the Brooklyn Bridge and decided to thank the driver and complete the journey on foot.

When in Rome, you’d better buckle up because these drivers are all about speed. They pride themselves on getting their passengers to their destination quickly and safely. You can imagine that the ride from the airport to our accommodation made us feel as if we were still on the plane. Weaving in and out of traffic at 160km/h (100 miles/hour) our taxista seemed to have a second job as a race driver.

In London, you will be in for a different experience. The Black Cabs are surprisingly spacious once you step inside and the driver is behind a partition window. London cabbies have to pass the grueling test known as “The Knowledge”. Navigation systems and city maps are taboo for these professionals.

Do you take the front seat or the back seat? The few times I took a taxi in the Netherlands by myself, I always felt inclined to sit in the back and mind my own business. Little did I know that this practice seems to be in line with the American taxi-etiquette. Some may argue that sitting alone in the back is considered snobby, but since you are the one paying for the ride, it should be up to you where you sit most comfortably. Some taxi drivers clearly want to avoid people sitting next to them when the front passenger seat is used as a makeshift office, while others seem to prefer this due to safety reasons. When I am traveling with someone else, it only makes sense to me to both sit in the back.

Hop In
Sometimes getting from the airport to your resort or hotel is easiest by taxi depending on how many people are in your travel party. Once you get to the taxi stand, there will probably be a dispatcher directing customers to the appropriate car. Let the dispatcher know how many people are traveling and make sure you know what the price is beforehand, as this will almost always be a set fare.

While I usually prefer using public transportation over getting a taxi, it’s hard to deny the potential comfort and privacy of this option. Taxi rides can certainly add some adventure to your vacation! You can find more tips and tricks on how to deal with taxi stands, estimated fare and possible baggage fees here

As a Dutch American, I am well aware of cultural differences. In my series, Abroad Perspective, I will tackle the challenges of international travel.

How do you like to get around while on vacation? Feel free to share this or any other cultural shocks with us in the comments below and your idea could be featured in the next blog!

Ray originally hails from The Hague, Netherlands and one day showed up at Global Discovery Vacations’ doorstep. When he is not traveling or writing, you might find him engaged in playing ping pong, swimming or planting tulips.