After a long day of sitting in meetings and seeing tourist attractions, you're ready to head back to your hotel, but it's far away. Naturally, you think to hail a cab. After a few short, an unmarked vehicle pulls over. The car doesn't look like a taxi, at least not any you've seen operating in the U.S. There are no labels, no fare meter and the normal Plexiglas panel that separates the driver from the passenger isn't there. Do you try your luck?
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the answer is always "no." Uncertified taxi cabs can be extremely dangerous, especially for susceptible tourists. Perhaps you subject yourself to ridiculous overcharges from your driver or poor service. However, there are other more sinister events that you may fall victim to by using a "gypsy cab" service. The FBI suggested that you could be robbed and in more serious circumstances even kidnapped.
Don't take unnecessary risks during your international travels. Use a certified taxi service, call ahead and use a cab company suggested by your hotel's concierge services.
Ask yourself the important questions
Before you hop into a taxi and during transit you should always be asking yourself a few important questions, according to the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide. Before you pick up the phone or raise your hand on the curb, you should research crime statistics for taxi services in the region you're traveling. This can give you a more specific picture as to how serious the situation may be during your travels. Afterwards, research what markings cabs in the region should have. Are there particular markings for certified cab companies? Are taxi cabs certain colors or model vehicles? Even if you call a certified service for pickup, check the cab once it arrives. Does is have all of the right markings? Is the driver's license and picture available? Does the car have all of the correct equipment including a meter and a radio? The bottom line is the cab should look legitimate.
Telegraph Travel reported that tourists can be victims of especially appalling taxi service as well, according to an Automobile Association survey, yet they still prefer the car service to public transportation.
"Many people making city trips prefer taxis to the mystery of unfamiliar public transport," Edmund King, AA President, told the Telegraph. "However the research showed a taxi journey can sometimes be just as daunting. Don't get in a taxi if it looks unsafe: bald tires are normally a tell-tale sign."
Stay vigilant during the ride
Even while your driver navigates through the winding streets, keep a careful eye on your surroundings. The AAFSW suggested looking up your intended route if at all possible and following the path the cab driver takes. This can help protect you from drivers trying to unfairly increase the price of fare or drivers who are trying to take you somewhere other than your location. Another travel savvy tactic, casually let the driver know that someone is expecting you at your location. Don't reveal too much about yourself or your plans to the cab driver though. No matter how legitimate the taxi operator, he is still a stranger and keeping to yourself may be in your best interest.
By following some of these tips you can subject yourself to more reliable taxi services and dodge the untrustworthy drivers overseas. Remember, the best way to avoid the unmarked cabs abroad is to schedule taxi pickups with authorized services suggested by your hotel.
The information contained here is provided by Brafton. AIG Travel assumes no responsibility for the use, accuracy, or interpretation of the information contained herein.