Solo travel presents a few unique challenges. Here is some information for the person who prefers to travel alone. Many of the tips also provide good general knowledge for anyone else in a strange city trying to hire a cab.
Finding a taxi should involve more than hailing a vehicle, throwing your luggage in the trunk, and climbing in the back seat. Here are some guidelines that will help keep you safe, especially if you are traveling alone.
• Before leaving for your trip, print out route maps from airport to hotel and any other side-trips you plan to take. If you are aware of the directions, you are less likely to be cheated by a driver who goes way off course to increase the fare.
• It is best to choose a cab from a well-known company that you can find in the phone book. Flagging down a taxi might not be the best plan. Sometimes these trips are not recorded. This means that if a problem arises, the taxi company might not have a record of your trip.
• If you do not call a cab by phone, try to find a taxi stand. Generally, only authorized and licensed drivers are allowed to accept fares from these stands. Do a visual inspection of taxis and try to avoid fakes that try to pass themselves as the real thing.
• The taxi you choose should have the cab company’s telephone number displayed prominently on the outside of the vehicle.
• Be wary of sharing a taxi with someone else. You never know who a stranger might be. Scam artists sometimes work with taxi drivers and fake “police officers” to steal the possessions of unwary tourists.
• Make a note of the cab company, taxi number, and license plate information.
• Before getting into the cab, ensure that it has a two-way radio. If it doesn’t, it could be a fake.
• Do not enter the cab if it does not have interior door handles in the passenger compartment, and make sure that they work properly before you close the door.
• When you climb into the vehicle, write down the operator information and anything else that will help you to identify the driver and taxi should there be any problems.
• If possible, sit directly behind the cab driver and stow your luggage beside you or at your feet. Why behind the driver? Try to reach directly behind yourself and see how difficult it is to do so. If you are in a vehicle with an unscrupulous driver, it will be hard for him to do any physical harm. With your luggage at hand, you will be able to make a hasty exit if need be, and you will have all your important documents with you (including the taxi information).
• Do not be too chatty with the driver. It is nobody’s business where you came from or where you are going. Keep to general topics like the weather. Better yet, use your cellphone to make a fake call to someone supposedly in the local area so that you give the impression someone is expecting you. During the conversation, mention the cab company and your immediate destination.
• If the vehicle is stopped en route by a “police officer”, ask to see the officer’s badge. In some countries, fake officers fleece tourists of their possessions.
• If you are a single woman and you want to forestall any advances from strange men, wear a fake wedding band to give the impression that you are married.
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