Taxi Etiquette for Global Travellers.
Everything you need to know about hailing a taxi when travelling
Note: This article has been written for superyacht crew, but in a generalised manner to include the global traveller.
In the UK, you always have to be mindful that the vehicles are on the opposite side of the street and the driver is on the right side and not the left. As you exit a hotel, wherever you may be, depending on the class of the hotel you are staying, a doorman is usually present to hail a cab for you.
This is a nice luxury, making you feel safer and special, and allowing you to have an intermediary to explain to the driver where you are going. Your destination may be one that you are not familiar with as far as directions and how far away it is. You always need to make sure that you are not taken advantage of.
If it is obvious you don’t know your way around, then a dishonest driver can easily “take you for a ride”, taking you extra miles out of your way to getting to your destination, so this is another reason a doorman may be a positive choice for you. It is sometimes very difficult to bypass the doorman at your hotel anyway, so you may as well take advantage of the service he provides.
When and where to tip a taxi driver-
You tip the taxi driver at the end of the ride usually by handing the money over the back seat inside the car. You can also get out of the car and hand the cash to the driver through his window after arriving at your destination.
How much should you tip-
The tip for a doorman depends on the class of the hotel you are at and can vary anywhere from $1 to $5. The tip for the cab driver is calculated more like a restaurant, using 15% to 20% as a guide. So, for a trip costing $20, a $2 tip is sufficient. You will wait until the ride ends to calculate and pay the tip, together with the fare.
How to hail a cab-
If there is no door attendant or hotel staff to deal with, it is now essential to get to a spot that has traffic that includes taxis.
Whatever language it is, there is usually a light on top of the cab, showing whether the cab is off duty or empty, etc. Always look for this before wasting your time attempting to hail a cab that is either full or off duty.
The cab may be empty, but the driver on his way home or back to his base of operation. It usually is a waste of time trying to make sure that the driver is fulfilling his ethical duties by taking every fare presented to him. However, if the cab is empty and the light clearly shows that the cab is available to pick up, then you can get his taxi number if you wish to report him for not stopping for you. This could occur if you have a lot of bags or if your appearance is “different”.
There also may be certain areas designated for a “line” or “taxi stand” where you can walk to. In the UK, this is common and South Africa also has this. In this case, you go to the front of the line.
Taxi etiquette for global travellers is the same when dealing with these stands or lines and also with the doormen at hotels. There are only variations when dealing with questionable neighbourhoods or areas with little or no congestion of vehicles.
In Australia, for instance, you may need to find a commercial establishment so that you can ask for a place to call. Information on your cell phone usually will be sufficient in this day and age. However, if you are lost, it is always nice to find a helpful person to help you out.
Obviously, you will not be in the countryside in the UK or France without having thought ahead about transportation, and usually, if a taxi is your mode of travel, the driver will be waiting with you and for you.
For instance, you may take a cab from London to Shakespeare’s house way up in the Avon in the English countryside. The driver will be staying with you. In this case, you have to work out a flat rate for the entire trip with waiting time. This is better for you than letting the driver use the meter for the trip. It would be too expensive that way. Obviously, the same holds true for a trip to the French Riviera or in Spain from Madrid to the country.
Getting back to city life and hailing a cab, it is always important to be careful when stepping into the busy street to wave down a taxi.
In Italy, the roads are several lanes and drivers are fast. If you must hail a cab the old fashioned way by waving it down in the street, be very careful and pay attention to the signs on the cabs showing whether they are vacant or full.
It is sometimes hard to use the proper etiquette and politely wave down a taxi when they are in such a rush to get a fare. You may experience the taxi stopping for someone else that was after you in the scheme of things and have to hold your head. When travelling as a tourist, it is always suggested that you stay in control and not get overly aggressive.
Leave early for wherever you have to go and reduce the stress of having to panic if a cab doesn’t stop for you or if it seems to be taking some time to get your taxi. Hailing a cab in the UK, for example, can be a very pleasant experience and the ride itself also, since the drivers are usually very friendly and helpful.
You can get a tour from the driver most of the time, while on the way to your destination. Actually, if you get the right driver in London, he can turn into a great tour guide for you. You may establish a relationship and have a regular driver while you are there. This may even help cut the costs of too many tours.
These drivers are sometimes a treasure trove of information and you get one on one personal attention. The same holds true in Australia. They are, mostly, very friendly people, and to be a taxi driver, he or she usually has the gift of gab and is willing to share a great deal of information with you.
In France, you have to call for a cab since you are not able to hail one.
- Spain, on the other hand, permits hailing a cab and it is the quickest way to get one.
- South Africa is known for its hustlers and taxi drivers are no exception, so, therefore, hailing a taxi is usually the best way to get one.
- In Australia, if you are staying at a decent hotel, asking the valet to flag you a taxi is best. He can call on his phone for you.
- This is similar to the U.S. In Vegas, for instance, where the valet booth has a phone.
Now let’s talk about UBER
Uber is an American international transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, California. The company develops, markets and operates the Uber mobile app, which allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars. The service was available in 58 countries and 300 cities worldwide (wikipedia.org/wiki/Uber)
This service has been somewhat controversial of late, and it has been challenged by governments and taxi companies alike who allege that the drivers are unlicensed to drive taxis, therefore, it is not safe for passengers.
I’m not too sure about this premise, as I’ve been in quite a few dodgy licenced taxis before!
The app and user ability of Uber is super easy and very efficient, you can have a look here for more information: https://www.uber.com/
I hope this article has shed some light on taxi etiquette around the world. If you have any tips, tricks or experiences, please let us know in the comments below.