If you are planning to us an airport taxi service while traveling outside the United States, be aware that the service you use may not be just like those you encounter when flying domestically. Here are eight tips to help take the confusion out of airport transit the next time you're abroad.
1. Keep track of your luggage.
Know where your luggage goes when you board the shuttle, whether that's underneath a bus, in the trunk, or on a rack overhead. If possible, keep it near you to avoid it being stolen or mistakenly taken by someone whose bags look just like yours. If you have to put it somewhere out of sight, mark it with a ribbon or brightly colored tag to keep someone else from grabbing it.
2. Know how the money should work.
Find out if you need to pay in advance of your ride or at the end, and inquire whether or not exact change is needed. If you don't have exact change, be ready to pay more than the required fare if the driver can't make change for you.
Know the tipping customs for the country you're visiting. In most places, even if a tip isn't expected, it's nice to give something to a driver or assistant who helps with directions or lifts your bags for you.
3. Don't assume there's just one airport.
Never simply tell the driver to go to the airport. Many large cities have more than one airport; greater London has six airports, Melbourne and Paris have four, and Oslo, São Paulo, and Manila, for example, each have three.
Also, never assume that the airport in which you arrived is the one from which you'll depart. Your airline carrier may operate out of multiple airstrips.
4. Carry a card with vital information in the language of the country you're visiting.
Don't count on your one-week crash course in Urdu or another foreign language to carry you through giving directions to the driver of your airport shuttle. In fact, that driver might also be a foreigner who barely speaks the language.
Just in case, keep a card with you that has the name of your hotel, your airline, your airport, your terminal (if you know it), and any other vital information. This is especially helpful if traveling to a country that doesn't use the same alphabet as English or uses characters, like Japanese, Mandarin, or Korean. You can always point at the card to make yourself understood.
5. Make your pick-up arrangements before you leave home.
If the airport taxi service is picking you up when you arrive at your destination country, make sure to make the arrangements before leaving home. Ask about where to find the shuttle, how much it will cost, and any other information pertinent to your journey. Don't count on winging it when you land--you'll likely be jet lagged and confused by the language or possibly by more crowded conditions.
6. Ask if you're not sure about your stop.
If your shuttle stops to let people off, don't instantly assume it's the end of the line for you. Ask the driver if you're not sure--they're used to tourists making inquiries, and it's no big deal.
7. Have a backup plan.
Just in case there's a miscommunication or some other problem, have a backup plan in mind for all trips that involve your airport taxi. Hopefully, you won't have to use it, but it will give you peace of mind.
Traveling overseas can be exhilarating and enriching. Use these tips to help your airport transit go smoothly and happily. For more information, consider contacting companies like Yellow Cab.