How to ensure your safety in a taxi when traveling abroad as a student
Tips of advice to stay safe when using a taxi as a student traveling abroad
The photo "Korean Head Start Program - Pyeongtaek, South Korea - 31 August 2012" was originally uploaded by USAG- Humphreys on Flickr and is reused here under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license
Using a bus or a taxi is a necessity when you are on holiday, especially if you travel on your own and the holiday package does not include a guided tour.
The national income of many countries depends heavily on visitors spending on various locally produced goods and services, therefore, a tourist is considered as a valuable source of money.
As a result, it wouldn’t come as a surprise the fact that, local people, will go to any length, in order to attract tourists to buy whatever they may sell.
It is not an unusual situation even in wealthy and economically developed countries that locals who are literally “jacks of all trades” to attempt to exploit, and even “rob” any unsuspecting victims who visit those countries, with student travelers being on top of their list.
One of the possible scenarios where student holidaymakers may be taken advantage of is when they try to get on a taxi.
Since it will not be possible for students who visit a country for the very first time to know the shortest way to drive from point A to point B, the taxi driver will be tempted to choose the longest itinerary, and make more money, as a result.
A good piece of advice would be to ask the receptionist of your hotel if they could show you the fastest route; then you have to insist on the taxi driver following it.
Another great tip would be to only use the services of well-established and reputed taxi companies, even if they are more expensive and charge you more, because, in this way, by choosing them you will end up saving you much more money and time. Again, you can usually find them at the reception of the hotel you are staying in, and, even better, you can use one of the taxi companies that serve the hotel’s guests on a regular basis.
You are also highly advised to never try to stop and use an occasionally passing taxi, right in the middle of the street. Chances are that the driver might not be officially licensed to carry passengers in a professional manner, and in other words, he/she might be a fake and illegal driver and you might end up having an unpleasant “adventure”.
When female students who go on holiday to a foreign country use a taxi, they should remember not to get in it without any friends accompanying them. The majority of taxi drivers are decent professionals but you might run into one or two odd drivers, who may attempt to make sexual advancements, particularly if you had a couple of drinks and you have started losing contact with reality.
It is a good habit to have your mobile phone on you at all times, so you will be able to phone someone for help as soon as possible. You shouldn’t forget that you are abroad, and this is the only way to get vital assistance in case of an emergency. Getting on a taxi with a driver that you don’t know how professional he/she is, could be such a case.
Most of the hotels provide their guests with safety deposit boxes and it would be wise to rent one of them, where you can keep your valuable personal objects and documents, such as traveler’s cheques, passports etc., if you don’t need them immediately. You should avoid showing your money or credit cards in public, whether in a taxi or anywhere else in a foreign country, because this will make you an easy target for people who set an eye on them.
When getting on a taxi, you should try and get into the habit of writing down the name of the taxi driver on a piece of paper, or his/her license number, and keep it in your wallet. Actually, anyone is entitled to do this by law, and you can apply this practice even in your own country. In this way, if a problem arises, you will always have the details of the driver available, and you can use them as a proof or point of reference.
This might sound funny to people who come from most countries of the western world; you should not forget to use the safety belt when you are using a taxi, especially in countries where the enforcement of road traffic laws is not as strict as it should be. The majority of drivers, and not just taxi drivers, in those countries, would be simply described as “dangerous” under the U.S. standards.
Before getting on-board, the general appearance and condition of the vehicle that will take you to your destination should be immaculate, both outside and inside. This might sound as a joke again, but it is certainly not advisable to get on a taxi that looks like a rattletrap. You could be putting your life at risk, regardless of any “official” certification that the driver might carry, which could be false documents signed and sealed by a corrupt government official.
Finally, do not hesitate to ask the taxi driver for an approximation of the total cost to carry you to a specific destination. The distance tariffs are officially set and the price per mile is standard. Again, the hotel reception can be an invaluable source of information in this area.