It’s easy to get scammed by shady taxi drivers who know that you are from out of town, may not know the local customs, and have extra cash to be cheated out of. Not all taxi drivers are going to cheat you but there are a few quiet ways to be your own travel insurance against it.
Being prepared is the best way to take away most of the leverage shady taxi drivers have to rip you off and you can outwit most without uttering a word.
Research The Local Customs
Taxi culture in Turkey is different than in South Africa than in Argentina, etc. It’s important to know the specifics. Otherwise you’ll just have to take the taxi driver’s word and expect that their actions are the norm. Spend a few minutes Google hacking your next trip the local tipping, meter, and baggage customs.
Know The Average Fare
There are a number of travel blogs that will tell you approximately how much it should cost you to get from the airport to your hostel, between major sites, and any other local hot spots. You don’t want to trust the taxi driver, the only thing you should rely on them is to drive. Find out everything else yourself before you get in the cab. Calculate international cab fares with World Taximeter, do a blog search, or get on Twitter and ask me, I’ll help you find out.
Be Vague About Where You’re Going
Start with the area of town you are going to and get more specific with your final destination as you get closer. It’s more difficult for a driver to wander around when you can see the signs to the part of town you want to go to.
Don’t Engage in Conversation
Almost universally taxi drivers will try to chat with you, especially if you look very foreign. While they might just be curious, the more you talk the more you give away about how clueless you are. I was once ripped off by a driver in a large city I had visited many times because I unwittingly gave away that I was unfamiliar with a part of town.
Have Correct Change
You should always have small bills on you whenever you travel separate from your larger ones. Your socks are a good place to hide your big denominations since opening a fat wallet with a bunch of bills just makes you a more tempting target. Besides, taxi drivers never have correct change, ever.
It’s All Quiet
Good body language and communicating non-verbally will help you bargain when you don’t know the local language. The more you research beforehand the more confident you’ll be directing traffic from the back seat. Tomorrow in Part 2 I’ll share a few ways to be firm, confident, and not get ripped off while being quiet at the same time.