Wednesday 5 December 2012

Getting to/from Zurich Airport

2011-05-29 16-03-49 Switzerland Kanton Zürich Grundbuck-Gässli
Did you know that in Zurich has more than 50 museums? You can also make a skiing day trip, entirely by train. When you get back in the evening, you'll have more than 1500 restaurants and 500 bars waiting, and, if it's a weekend, upwards of 80 clubs.

It's a great city, and home to one of the world's greatest airports.

If you haven't been flown through Zurich Airport, you can now visit Zurich Airport virtually through the Watch the Zurich Airport Movie. In addition to showing all the cool stuff about the facility (and it is cool!), the video features some of the transportation highlights.

Watch the Zurich Airport Movie

Your best bet for a Zurich Airport transfer is the train or tram, depending on your final destination. Full details on these and all other ground transportation options are included in the IHateTaxis Zurich Airport (ZUR) Ground Transportation Guide.

Want to truly arrive stress free, treat yourself to a private Zurich Airport transfer from IHateTaxis.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

London: Closest Airports to LHR Heathrow Airport

big ben
Headed to London? Check out our Closest Airports to LHR Heathrow Airport page.

Headed to London?

We`ve got a great page on our website that we think you`ll really like.

Our Closest Airports to LHR Heathrow Airport page provides alternatives to flying into busy - and often overwhelming - Heathrow Airport.

By flying into a different London area airport, you may:
  • Have more flight options to choose from
  • Get an airport closer to your destination
  • Possibly even save money

Airports Closest to LHR Heathrow
Alternative London airports are listed along with their distance from Heathrow and how many airlines fly there.

Click on any of the airports for:
  • General airport information
  • A list of airlines that serve the airport 
  • Ground transportation options: taxi, train, shuttle, bus, limo or car hire.
If you are headed to London, lucky you! We hope you find our airport planning tool helpful, and say hi to Big Ben for us!

Saturday 22 September 2012

Travel Innovations We Like

The good thing about innovation is that every so often it hits stuff that makes a difference to your life. Here are a few cool things we've spotted lately:

Order a burger delivered to you at your gate
iPads at the gate
  • At La Guardia Airport (LGA), gates in Terminal D now feature tables of the type you might see in a bar or coffee shop equipped with, yes, you guessed it, iPads free for anyone to use. In addition to flight alterts and games, you can order food delivered to the gate. Elegant. Now there's a word you don't hear often in conversation about New York airports! BTW, they are cropping up elsewhere too... watch out for them!
  • Read more:  How iPads Spruce Up Airport `Bus Station’ Seating Areas

Scottevest's iPad Compatible Clothing
iPad cloaking devices
  • We love this one: a jacket (or vest) with a secret pocket you can slip your iPad into and, presto!, it's invisible. Invisible to anyone watching you walk down the street that is. Best yet, this innovation comes with more... more pockets! Scottevest's clothing have oodles of pockets - some have 20 or more! - and they've got that cool magic clear plastic thingy stuff that will let you work your finger sensitive device through the pocket and built in wiring (technical term: TEC-Technology Enabled Clothing®, which they invented).

Buy your luggage it's own ticket
Luggage that travels solo
  • With all the hassle - and charges - that come with flying with luggage these days, why not travel light and give your luggage it's own ticket to ride? If only.... Well, it's not "if" anymore. Lugless promises "travel without the baggage". You can ship your little carry on, your big suitcase, your bike, your whatever - and they deliver it at the other end. They send you a protective wrapper, pick it up (perhaps using their friends at FedEx, UPS or the like), then deliver it to your destination. Door-to-door. Hey, that's better than you get! The prices are pretty good (we think) and a real dream for journeys like travel overseas or sports fanatics that just can't leave their surfboard at home. 

What are your favourite innovations of late?

Friday 10 August 2012

We're a Website Travelers Should Rely On

So says Travel Stuff, a UK based travel blog offering advice on travel worldwide, with a focus on Europe.

Travel Stuff's article, 6 Websites Every Traveler Should Rely On, cites - you guessed it! - six travel websites that are near and dear to their hearts. We are most flattered to be one of them, especially when we look at the company we're keeping.

Our trip to las vegas
We're your rock. You can rely on us to help you
figure out how to get from Airport to Beach
We especially like that the Travel Stuff folks "get" what we are really about, describing as "incredibly useful for all travelers who’d rather anticipate and plan than just leave it to chance". Hurrah! And, yes, indeed, we "help you find your way from the airport to your accommodation area without losing time or wasting money." That's all that we're about.

Yes, our database IS huge.We're glad you noticed.

But, heck, it's ok if you take a taxi. We won't hold it against you.

If you haven't seen it before, here's the story behind our name: Do we really hate taxis?

Monday 30 July 2012

Transportation Stories from London

With the 2012 Summer Olympics underway, we thought it might be interesting to summarize some of the public transportation stories coming out of London...

London 2012 Olympics - Road Signs
Pre-Olympics Road Sign
Of course, Londoners were well warned about expected congestion during the games. And changes like these began to take place:

London 2012 games lane
Games Restricted Lane Marker

And there was an interlude where signs like these were seen:

GAMES LANE- 7 July - wc1
Picture Taken July 7, 2012
But, no more. The fully games transport system is in operation. Now for some stories (including why you won't see one of these on the road):

First London fuel cell bus WSH62995 (LK60 HPN) VDL SB200 Wrightbus Pulsar, Catherine Street, route RV1, 20 May 2011
London's Hydrogen Fuel Cell "Green" Bus

Security Theatre? London Parks Hydrogen Buses During Olympics for "Security Reasons". 
  • Interesting story about both London's fabulous new hydrogen buses - and why they have been taken out of service during the Olympic Games.
London taxi drivers banned from protesting over Games Lane and London taxi protest.
  • As you can imagine, London's cabbies are none too happy with driving bans that effect them - and their passengers. If you are in London, just don't equate "taxi" with "fast" during the games.
London Shortening Opening Ceremonies
  • They did do this: they shortened the Opening Ceremonies, at the last minute, to ensure that attendees and participants could get home before public transportation ended. Too bad they didn't think about that sooner. Read the article to learn about what was cut and you didn't see.
London's Games Lanes confuse motorists 
  • The special games lanes were in place, but as London drivers stayed out of them, they expressed both confusion (as to when and where they can use them) and frustration (upon sitting in traffic while the games lanes went unused.
Uruguay to alter Olympic travel after delays 
  • Imagine athletes stuck in traffic on a bus for more than 7 hours - on their way to a competition - and you can guess why this is a bad news story....
London wins early "gold" in quiet Olympic commute 
  • Transportation on the first business day of the Olympics went better than anticipated, perhaps because Londoners were indeed scared off from venturing into and around their city....
Emirates Air Line Thames cable car breaks down and New cable car over River Thames opens to passengers
  • London has an exciting new transport option: the Emirates Air Line is a cable car that will lift you skyward from one side of the Thames to the other. It's rather cool, as it can carry 2,500 people, per hour, in each direction. The Air Line opened with great fanfare in late June, but just days before the games began, it broke down, leaving a group of people hanging, literally, for almost an hour over the river. (It is operating again, let's hope for no further problems).
Next stop Olympic Park: sprinting star Usain Bolt steps on to London Routemaster
  • The world's fastest man has been taking the bus.... and making fans very happy through his appearances, interactions and tweets. It's just one such story emerging from London - and comes with awesome pictures!
London Trip 16-7-2012 Emirates Air Line
Emirates Air Line Cars Crossing the River Thames
Finally, a few interesting tweets (all with pictures):
Tip: if you are in London, or plan to be, visit Transport for London for full information on options and current conditions.
Photograph of a London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Volunteer Oyster Card
London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Volunteer transport pass

Friday 13 July 2012

Airport of the Future

Ever wonder what the airport of the future would look like? This infographic gives you an idea:
Reinventing the Airport Ecosystem. Mapping strategic direction for the next 20 years
Click for enlarged view and report from Amadeus
What do you think? How do you think airports will change in the next 20 years? Or what do you hope will change?

Thursday 28 June 2012

New Airport: Kunming Changshui

Changshui is a stunning beacon in the night. Image: SINA
Kunming Changshui International Airport (IATA: KMG, ICAO: ZPPP) is a brand new airport in Kunming, the capital of capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province. Kunming Changshui. The Changshui Airport officially came into service on June 28, 2012.

The top of New Kunming Airport
Kunming Changshui Airport from the roof!

Our Kunming Changshui Airport Guide provides information on how to get to / from the airport. Most exciting is the sleek new light rail line that also opened on the same day. We have also rounded up information on other ground transportation options, such as taxis, shuttles and buses.

Kunming Changshui interior
Kunming Changshui Airport's sleek interior

If you visit Kunming and have feedback on our Kunming Changshui Airport guide, or learn anything different about ground transportation at Changshui Airport, please let us know. We rely on travelers the world over to help keep our airport ground transportation guides up to date! Kunming Changshui Airport Ground Transportation Guide
All images in this post are copyright their owners. 
Here are some links to stories and pictures about the airport and its opening:

Monday 11 June 2012

Bus Rider: World's Coolest Bus Stops

Nowokornino - Bus stop
Bus stop in tiny Nowokornino, Poland (population 221)
What's the coolest bus stop you've encountered in your travels?

We've created a list... and are inviting you to add to it!

Join the fun!

Friday 1 June 2012

Simply Amazed!

Ancient Roman theatre smack in the middle of Amman, Jordan
We are simply AMAZED at the quality and quantity of travel information that our new Travel Daily is serving up every day. 
A photo journey to South Africa's highest mountain range
The amazement comes from the fact that we don't really do all that much! With a daily, the technology does all the work. As we understand it, guided by some broad topics we select, our tweets are mined, as well as those of who we follow, and follow us and the top relevant content is served up.
Tips for solo travel in Russia
After the daily is ready, we can go in and edit the content, deleting anything that's not suitable (maybe 10%) - and choosing which article in each topic area should be the headline. Super easy - and it's updated live as you do it! (BTW, we connect using Twitter to connect, but believe you can use Facebook, if you prefer).

It's really quite remarkable.

Just take a look at some of what's contained in the Leisure section of today's issue:
In fact, about 50 more. Yes, 60ish solid, informative, fresh, relevant travel links, on this page alone, just today!  The rest of our pages have a travel theme to them - check out the Stories section for another rich treasure trove of travel stories...
The Jordaan district of Amsterdam
Isn't the variety stunning? The best part is that it's easy to see who sourced and authored each one, so you can follow them on Twitter, or head to the relevant blog/website, to mine more of the content that interests you.So, a publication like this isn't about us 'collecting' news; it's about providing a springboard to you, to find more of the content that you value.

Berlin's beer culture
And, of course, we are not the only ones with a great daily! Check the newstand, where you can search for, favourite and subscribe to as many others as you wish.You can even make your own - for free!

Now, if you aren't up to all of that, we hope you'll enjoy what we have to offer!

You can always see our latest issue here.

You can subscribe to get The Travel Daily in your inbox every day, if you wish, so you won't miss a thing!

Note: All photos in this post are the property of the the article owners!

Sunday 27 May 2012

The Travel Daily *NEW*

We are excited to announce that our daily travel news "paper" is now live!

Subscribe to The Travel Daily!

The Travel Daily is jam packed with all sorts of travel tips, stories and ideas to make your next vacation, off-the-beaten track journey, summer jaunt or round-the-world trip as rich as possible.

If you are on Twitter, be sure to follow us (@IHateTaxis), then look for our tweet each day for The Travel Daily - and click the link to read.

Better, yet, you can receive The Travel Daily in your inbox every day! Just go to the site and look for the subscribe button.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

What Can I Take on the Plane?

40+305 Bag

With a business or pleasure trip just around the corner, packing your luggage can be both fun and stressful. Not only do you need to account for the clothing that you will need during your trip, you will also need to think about overall weight and what you will place in each piece of your luggage to avoid security issues.

Day 201: A Flower Grows in LNK
You also need to plan if some of your luggage decides to take a vacation of its own. The team have packed up our luggage so many times for so many different trips, be it for that relaxing week in Hawaii or the five week safari in Tanzania complete with a Kilimanjaro hire.

 All team members have had the experience of losing our luggage for several days or have had to deal with a security issue since something we packed was not allowed to go on the plane.

So with lots of experience and the latest security information, we have complied a guide of "what you can and cannot take on the plane", complete with all of our experiences to make your trip as stress-free as possible.

What Can I Take in my Carry-On?

Carry-on luggage refers to your belongings that may be brought with you into the cabin of an airplane. Airlines and airport security have many restrictions regarding carry-on luggage. You must consider the number of bags, their sizes, weights, and most importantly their contents. We here at also have some tips with respect to your carry-on luggage.
Sydney makes the carry-on limit
Due to limited room available in the cabin on the airplane, all airlines will limit the number of bags you may bring on board. This limit is usually one bag, although small purses and handbags are usually permitted in addition to this bag. A few smaller airplanes will have more restrictions, simply because there is limited room for anything larger than a purse. Some airlines allow their business and first class passengers a greater number of carry-on bags. Regardless, it is always important to check the limitations with the specific airline you are flying.

For most airlines, the dimensions of the carry-on luggage must not exceed 45 linear inches or 114 linear cm (this is the luggage's height + depth + width) and its weight must not exceed 40 lbs or 18 Kg. The check-in area at most airports have a scale and measuring tools to ensure that your bag is the appropriate size to be carried on board. Once again, we strongly recommend that you confirm the maximum allowable size of your carry-on luggage before arriving at the airport to prevent having to re-pack at the check-in counter.

Things to Pack in Your Carry-on

Some airports even sell baggies
for your toiletries, like this one
at London Stansted Airport (STN)
Carry-on luggage restrictions are much greater than for checked luggage, so we at have our recommended list of things you should consider packing in your carry-on.

One way to think about your carry-on is "what items are absolutely essential should my checked luggage be lost?".

Our suggested list includes:
  • Wallet or purse (with credit cards, bank cards, cash, travellers cheques/checks)
  • Passport
  • All medications (prescriptions or otherwise) and medical supplies
  • Glasses (in hard-cover case)
  • Highly-valued items (camera, laptop, tablet, reader, music player, phone, etc - and cords/chargers)
  • Jewelry (note that some high valued gems and stones may require proof of ownership if travelling across borders - better yet, don't take any!)
  • Snacks (note that some food types may not travel across borders. For example meat, fresh fruit and veggies, and some dairy products)
  • Baby Supplies (bottles1, diapers and wipes, a toy, pacifier, change of clothes, etc)
  • Change of clothing (consider the climate at your destination when packing spare clothing)
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste1, floss, brush/comb, make-up1, hygiene products1, perfume1
  • Child/Infant Car seat (may be permitted if you have purchased a seat for your child)
  • Empty water bottle2
  • All required documents (paper or etickets for travel, visas, hotel confirmations, travel insurance, etc)
1 All liquid or gel products should be packed in a clear 1 L bag for inspection and in many locations this bag must be removed and scanned separately from your carry-on at the security point. Sandwich-sized Zip-Loc bags are perfect for this and some airports will provide a bag upon request at the ticket counter or security checkpoint. The bag must seal shut and no individual product inside the bag may exceed 3.4 fluid oz or 100 mL. You are permitted only one 1 L bag per person. Baby items (formula and milk) are often exempt from this rule, although rules do vary between countries.

2 Water bottles are allowed on board, provided they do not contain fluid when you go through the security check. By carrying an empty water bottle and refilling (should a water source be available) after security will enable you to stay more hydrated during your trip. Commercially sealed water bottles purchased before security are NOT allowed, unless you empty them first.

Carry-on Items Prohibited

Get pie recipes from the TSA! Do not pack any of the following in your carry-on as they will likely be confiscated by security. Some of these items may be placed in your checked luggage and some cannot travel by commercial air.

Carefully consider why you would need any of these items at your final destination or if they may be obtained when you arrive.

Carry-on items prohibited include:
  • Firearms (pistols, flare guns, rifles, BB guns, toy guns, paintball guns) and ammunition
  • Knives (including jack-knives, scissors3, swords)
  • Weapons (including replicas)
  • Tools (power tools and most hand tools3 
  • Greater than 100 mL of any fluid or gel (baby supplies are often exempt from this rule, provided you are travelling with a baby)
  • Select toiletry items (razors, metal nail files, or any items with a sharp or pointed edge3
  • Explosive materials 
  • Sporting goods (hockey sticks, baseball bats, skates, surf boards)
  • Gases4
  • Pressurized containers (e.g., hair spray bottles, shaving cream, spray paint)
  • Matches (usually one package of safety matches or one standard lighter is permitted, but rules do vary)
  • Poisons (e.g., fertilizers and other toxic materials)
  • Infectious material (laboratory specimens)
  • Fiberglass resins
  • Peroxides
  • Radioactive materials
  • Strong magnetic materials
  • Corrosives (e.g., drycleaners, car batteries, acids, alkalis, lye, mercury)
  • More than 4 lbs or 1.8 Kg of dry ice

3 Note that some countries and airports do allow small nail files, scissors under 4 inches or 10 cm blade length, and smaller tools (screwdrivers, etc). But we strongly recommend packing these in your checked luggage to avoid problems unless you will absolutely need them during your flight.

4 If you require oxygen during the flight, this should be discussed with your airline well in advance as rules and regulations vary. Note that containers that have contained gases or flammable liquids (e.g., camping fuel bottles) are not allowed due to residues.

Please note that the above list is a simplified version derived from multiple government and airport websites and is not complete. Rules and regulations may differ between countries and even between airports within the same country.

We hope you have found our tips for carry-on luggage helpful. If you have your own tips to add, we welcome your comments!

This is just the first of a series we will be doing on luggage - stay tuned for more!

You might also be interested in:

Friday 27 April 2012

Taxi Rates & Fares: Airport Taxi Advice

GDIF 2011 - 41
The fine art of taxi fare negotiation
Photo creativecommons: garryknight on Flickr
Most travellers take taxis from the airport to their hotel or final destination after arriving at the airport. We at have also taken countless numbers of taxi rides to and from the airport, so we offer the following advice for smart travellers to arrive as stress-free as possible. Most disagreements with cab drivers occur over their taxi rates and fares, so being prepared will help reduce these discussions.

Before You Depart the Curb

Note the cab number
  • Load only your large luggage in the taxi's trunk or boot. Keep all valuables with you when you get into the taxi. This is to ensure that if there are problems later, that you at least have your valuables with you. 
  • Make sure that you have agreed to either a fixed fare or a metered price and the currency to be paid in. Ask if there are any other additional charges that you should be aware of (additional passenger fees, luggage fees, toll fees, airport fees, etc). If you do not agree on the taxi rate or the taxi fare before starting the ride, then this will likely become a disagreement at the end of your cab ride. 
  • Memorize or record the taxi number and driver's name (the number may just be on the outside of the taxi). If you are able to get the driver's name then record this as well and of course say 'hi' to him (that way he knows that you know his name should any problems arise). 
While in the Taxi

Keep your eye on the meter - no sleeping!
  • Keep a very close eye on that taxi meter in the front if you have not negotiated a fixed fare. Do not sleep or anything else. 
  • Why of course you have been in a New York Taxi, Las Vegas Taxi, Bangkok Taxi, London Taxi, Beijing Taxi, or Nairobi Taxi before. Just a few months ago, right? Yes, you are a regular traveller to the city. Oh, you have never been here before? Well let us just take the long road then to your hotel! 
  • If you have a GPS, pull it out and watch the tracking. If the cab driver is doing loops then question him and show the GPS track. 
  • If the negotiated fare is suddenly re-negotiated, stick to your original price. Ignore any confirmation from yourself on the new price. If this becomes a problem then have the taxi driver stop and get out. If you have luggage in the trunk, make sure the taxi driver either gets out and opens the trunk or one person stays inside the cab while the other unloads all luggage. We recommend not paying the driver anything, but this likely will be a discussion. 
  • If an official rate card is given to you by the driver during your drive into town and the price is re-negotiated, then ignore this as well. It doesn't take too much effort to print off a few cards and laminate them to try and trick people. 
  •  If there is an option to take a toll road, then leave it up to the driver to decide ("you decide") unless you know better. Like the rest of us, taxi drivers hate sitting in traffic and although it likely means a higher fare for them, this is not a pleasant way to do it. For tolls, you may either pay them directly or have the driver pay them and then the price is added to the fare. We recommend that you pay the tolls as then you have a lesser chance of getting scammed and of course this also gives you a good method of breaking a larger bill. Regardless, pay attention to the toll prices signs when approaching the payment booths.
When You Arrive at Your Destination
Have small bills and coins in hand
  • Have the cash ready in hand for payment, including a tip if you wish. Keep it hidden. See below if you are going to pay with a credit card or debit card. 
  • Get out of the taxi and take all of your luggage. Have it all ready to go (i.e., backpacks on your back, handles out, etc). 
  • Hand the driver the money and walk away and do not look back. 
  • Taxi drivers sometimes claim that the money given is not enough or try to impose some additional changes on you. By being ready to go, having asked before departing in the cab, and by handing the money over and walking away the taxi driver has less of a chance of pulling this scam. If your luggage is still in the trunk or you are not ready to go then there is a good chance of this scam developing. 
  • If the taxi driver is very insistent that you have underpaid him (e.g., he follows you into the hotel lobby), then just make sure that you didn't short-change him or forget an extra charge (e.g., taxi desk at airport charge or a toll booth). Discussion of the problem in the hotel lobby or other public place will likely help you, not the driver, as people there likely know if a scam is in progress. 
  • Taxi drivers never seem to have change, but will gladly take that big bill of yours. If you do not have enough change then tell the driver wait and go into a hotel, restaurant, or other establishment and get some change. Breaking a big bill at the airport prior to taking the taxi will help deal with this situation. 
  • If the taxi driver drops you nearby your destination, such as a couple of blocks away due to "bad traffic", "difficult area", "road closed" etc then be aware that this is most likely a scam in progress. The driver will then likely demand a rip-off fare as you cannot just go into the hotel and ask someone what the appropriate fare is or have someone at the hotel talk to the driver in the foreign language. In this situation, demand to be taken to the hotel front door (the better approach to side-track this scam) or just pay what you think is fair (which will never be enough). There is a good possibility that an argument will occur, but stand your ground. You can always WALK to your hotel and if the driver follows you demanding money, then you know it will likely be settled before you get to the front of your hotel. This is much less likely on metered fares, but still there might be extra fees demanded for "luggage" or other likely nonsense.
Paying With Plastic (Credit Cards, Debit Cards)

If you wish to pay your taxi fare with plastic (credit card or debit card), we recommend the following to avoid problems later on. All of us at have had issues with paying with credit cards in particular.
Don't let your credit card out of your sight!
  • Ask if the driver will take plastic prior to leaving the curb. If the side windows have "Visa", "Mastercard", "JTB", "American Express", etc then likely the taxi driver will take your matching credit card. 
  • Some taxi drivers prefer cash over plastic as there is no paper trail. By paying cash they avoid a commission to be paid to their employer or franchise and better still avoid paying income and sales taxes. If a taxi driver insists on cash, even though they can take plastic, then there is no reason why you cannot ask for a discount on the taxi fare. 
  • Be aware that the credit card machine "might be down", but this is almost always a scam to have you pay cash. All taxis that take credit cards can process them manually on paper and it is not your problem if they are out of paper or the machine "is down". 
  • Never let your credit card out of your sight and ensure that it is swiped only once. If it is swiped more than once, get the cancelled or declined printouts from the machine for each swipe. The taxi driver might be double or triple charging you. This problem is reduced with chip credit cards. 
  • There is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON for the taxi driver to need the CVV code from your credit card. This is the 3-digit code found on the back of Visa and Mastercard cards and the 4-digit code found on the front of American Express cards. This code is used only for online purchases where the card cannot be presented. If the driver records this number, then you risk having your card used fraudulently later on. 
  • Save all of your receipts from paying with plastic for up to a year or longer. If problems occur later on, then you will need them to fight the charges. 
  • Be very aware of what you are signing with your credit card. Some taxi companies and taxi drivers use a third party to process their credit card charges, but YOU are charged the processing fee! This fee could be quite significant, with one U.S. based company charging USD 6 for taxi ride fees of USD 50-100 or more. Always read the paper you sign to avoid a nasty surprise on your bill.
Hopefully you will be lucky and get a great taxi driver, with no intent to rip you off. They do exist. But don't count on it. When you are in a new place - especially a new country with all the new sights and sounds that come with it (!) - your guard may be down and you are more likely to be taken advantage of. Take a few minutes to get your bearings before getting a cab, remember these tips, then enjoy the ride - with one eye on your driver, of course!

PS: if you want to do more to research ground transportation before you leave home, be sure to check out our 500+ free ground transportation guides to airports worldwide. We'd love to help you arrive stress free! 

Read the other posts in our Smart Travel Advice series:
In case you have missed it, please read our post: Do We Really Hate Taxis?

Thursday 5 April 2012

Dealing With Taxi Drivers

Travel anywhere in the world will likely involve a ride in a cab and there will be some discussion with the taxi cab driver on where you want to go and the payment. We at have put together a page of tips and advice for dealings with taxi drivers just about anywhere in the world.

Before You Depart

Elena, (Female) Taxi Driver
Get to know your driver
  • Get to know your taxi driver before entering the cab. Usually your driver will assist you with your luggage, so this is the opportune time to say hi. Remember that the two (or more) of you will be sharing the car for some distance.
  • Confirm your destination with the taxi driver. Make sure that they know where you want to go and they know where that is. Sometimes a map from your hotel or details directions help, especially if you are heading to an uncommon location. If your driver does not know how to get where you need to go, either select another taxi that does know or ensure that your driver obtains directions before departing (e.g., have them call someone to find out).
  • Memorize or record the taxi number and driver's name (the number may just be on the outside of the taxi). If you are able to get the driver's name then record this as well and of course say 'hi' to him (that way he knows that you know his name should any problems arise).
  • Make sure that you have agreed to either a fixed fare or a metered price and the currency to be paid in. Ask if there are any other additional charges that you should be aware of (additional passenger fees, luggage fees, toll fees, airport fees, etc). If you do not agree on the taxi rate or the taxi fare before starting the ride, then this will likely become a disagreement at the end of your cab ride.
  • If language is an issue, write down the destination or price. Sometimes spoken English is not understood but written English might be. In many countries you might be negotiating a price with your fingers!

Fixed Fare or Meter?

Taxi híbrido en Madrid
Taxi meter in a hybrid cab in Madrid
  • If given a choice between a fixed price and meter, pick the one you are most confortable with.
  • Fixed prices are more likely to be higher, or possibly a total rip off, but you know exactly what you will pay at your destination and there should be no surprises. Taxi drivers using a fixed price system will always get you to you destination using the shortest and fastest route so they can maximize profit with minimum expense of fuel and time.
  • Metered prices are more likely to be lower, but the possibility of a longer route to bump the price exists. Also there might be discussions of additional fees at the end of the trip along with the mystery of what the price will be. If using the meter, one way to reduce stress is to ask the taxi driver what price you should expect to pay at the end of the journey. Asking at your hotel desk is another way to gauge prices.

The Taxi Ride
Nice Taxi
Taxi ride in Bombay
  • Watch where you sit as the majority of taxi drivers expect you to sit in the back seat and they are more comfortable with you in the back, so unless you are travelling in a group of 3 or more, please keep your cab driver happy and sit in the back!
  • Make sure the meter is started when you leave and keep a very close eye on that taxi meter in the front if you have not negotiated a fixed fare. Do not sleep or anything else.
  • Friendly or setup? Some taxi drivers are quite chatty, so you might be asked if you have been to the city before. Use your best judgment and instincts on this one to avoid taking the long route, although more likely you will be given some good information about the city.
  • If you have a Global Positioning System, pull it out and watch the tracking, especially on a metered fare if you do not know the city. If the cab driver is doing loops then question why and show the GPS track.
  • If the negotiated fixed fare is suddenly re-negotiated, stick to your original price. Ignore any confirmation from yourself on the new price. If this becomes a problem then have the taxi driver stop and get out. If you have luggage in the trunk, make sure the taxi driver either gets out and opens the trunk or one person stays inside the cab while the other unloads all luggage. We recommend not paying the driver anything, but this likely will be a discussion.

Discussions and Disagreements with Taxi Drivers
Hong Kong taxi driver and passenger
  • Almost all of us have had disagreements with taxi drivers, so being a smart traveller you will likely have followed our advice here to reduce potential "uncertainties".
  • There are many honest taxi drivers out there, but once in a while you will find someone that likes to take advantage of those that do not understand the system or the currency. Failing to speak the local language or speaking it with an accent will label you as a potential target right away. But scams occur even in your own home town, so be on guard for dishonest drivers that will take advantage of you and your wallet.
  • On behalf of the cab drivers out there, they do make their living by driving people around and sometimes they do take quite a bit of abuse or even more from their passengers. Failing to pay, vandalizing, throwing up, and so on in the taxi means that the driver now has to pay to fix your damage plus he will likely lose customers while the damage is being repaired.
  • If a taxi driver is very insistent that you have underpaid him (e.g., he follows you into the hotel lobby), then just make sure that you did not short-change him or forget an extra charge (e.g., taxi desk at airport charge or a toll booth). Discussion of the problem in the hotel lobby or other public place will likely help you, not the driver, as people there likely know if a scam is in progress. If there is a translation issue between you and the taxi driver, the hotel desk staff can likely also explain why you are being asked for additional funds.

Some Final Words

Yoram, Our Taxi Driver
Yoram, a.k.a., "Humpty-Dumpty", a friendly taxi driver in Jerusalem
Photo (c) Ron Cantrell (10046996@N06 or shalomshalomjerusalem on Flickr)
Although we have painted a strong picture of dealing with taxi drivers, there are some very helpful and respectful taxi drivers that love their jobs and you will know when you come across one. Being a taxi driver is not an easy job as some passengers are disrespectful or fail to pay their bill. Relationships between passengers and taxi drivers is much a love-hate relationship anywhere you go in the world, so we at are here to try to make this relationship as smooth and stress-free as possible.

PS: if you want to do more to research ground transportation before you leave home, be sure to check out our 500+ free ground transportation guides to airports worldwide. We'd love to help you arrive stress free! 

Read the other posts in our Smart Travel Advice series:
If you've missed it, you might also enjoy reading this story about how we got our name: Do We Really Hate Taxis?

Monday 26 March 2012

Meet the Brothers: An Interview with Todd Romaine

In this blog post, we introduce you to Todd Romaine, one of the two Canadian brothers who was the brainchild behind the website. For the story behind our name, read Do we really hate taxis? co-founder Todd Romaine
in the West Falkland Islands
What one word or phrase describes the type of traveler you are?

TODD: Daring or adventurous

When did you first get the travel bug?

TODD: At the age of 21 I moved to Madagascar for school and this started my quest for international travel. As of last year I have made it to all 7 continents.

Todd in Antartica
What was your most memorable trip?

TODD: My recent trip last year to Argentina, Uruguay, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica was probably the highlight of international travels to date. It essentially followed Ernest Shackleton's infamous journey back in 1915.

What's the worst thing that has gone wrong on your travels? How did you recover from it, and what did you learn?

TODD: Was able to get into Kamchatka Territory in the Russian Far East through a contact whom pestered the local customs officer to let me through immigration control. The contact insisted on driving me taxi style into town and was very drunk, swaying in and out of traffic. It was very scary and I was surprised to escape unscathed.

What's your travel style? 

TODD: As I get older I prefer making arrangements in advance but not overkill to ruin spontaneous fun. The best part of the trips I find are the unplanned events that make trips that much more exciting and thought provoking.

What's your favourite airport? Least favourite? Why?

TODD: Favourite airport is probably Minneapolis because it has an easy layout, and Singapore for amenities. I would also say Johannesburg is also out there. Least favourite is probably Chicago because of the great distances between terminals and frequent lost baggage and weather issues.

How do you prefer to get to/from the airport?

TODD: I commonly rent a vehicle and this is my most common preferred travel option to/from the airport on a personal basis. On a professional basis, I generally take taxis out of convenience as my trips are congested and sometimes I do not have the luxury of coordinating bus or train schedules to my final destination.

Todd in Tibet

What was your worst airport ground transportation experience?

TODD: Taking taxis by and large because I am commonly ripped off hence the intent of creating this website to empower travelers like myself. I was accused by a taxi driver in Beijing of stealing his passport and wallet while he exited the vehicle for 20 seconds. A group of villagers surrounded the vehicle and went through our belongings but to no avail. We threatened to call the Police so the taxi driver temporarily calmed down and agreed to drive us back to the hotel. En route to the hotel, it appeared he was having a stroke from the stress and was weaving in and out of traffic. We exited the vehicle by forcing the vehicle to the side and had a considerable walk back to the hotel.

What gear do you travel with?

TODD: Dummy wallet (dependent on country), print copies of hotel and flight information, scanned print out of passport, checked luggage and carry on knap sack. I also take a good camera to locations with low crime rates and a pocket camera for locations where my personal security could be compromised. I also bring along my blackberry to check internet through free wireless connections in airports and hotels. This includes bringing a local adapter.

What's always in your luggage that might surprise people?

TODD: Shoe tree co-founders Steve Romaine (left) and Todd Romaine (right)
at Edmonton International Airport

What's it like to travel with your brother?

TODD: Good but we definitely have a different view point when it comes to money. Steve will stay at the airport bartering with taxi cabs at 2am for the best deal to save money while I am prepared to sacrifice somewhat for the convenience of just getting to the hotel.

Where was your last trip?

TODD: My last trip was two months ago to Cyprus and Lebanon. It was for school and pleasure and unfortunately the weather was terrible, averaging about 2-6 degrees Celsius.

Where do you plan to travel to next?

TODD: Besides routine trips across Canada and the United States, Greenland is the next scheduled trip.

Coming soon: an introduction to the “other” brother...

Thursday 8 March 2012

Dealing with Touts

Many airports, train stations, ferry ports, and even tourist attractions have touts. Touts can be described as those that will try and trick you into a service you likely do not need or to steer you away from legitimate services in favour of selling you a product or service at an unfair price.

Touts work in many different ways and use different tactics to gain your trust, although their methods are basically the same anywhere you go. Always be on the lookout for touts at arrival destinations, regardless of where you travel.

The crazy scene at the Cancun airport - drivers waiting to pick passengers up!
Taxi tout chaos at Cancun Airport

Tricking the Traveler

Touts prey on newly-arrived passengers, taking full advantage of them in many ways:
  • They may not be familiar with the local currency
  • They may not be aware of the typical cost of goods and services
  • They are likely tired and jet-lagged and just want to get to their hotel
  • They may have not booked a hotel and are in need of a hotel
  • They are likely carrying large amounts of cash or wearing expensive jewelry

Be Smart and Identify Touting Activities

This is what you need to know about touts to minimize conflict and stress:

Touts are typical high-pressure sales people.
They latch onto you and do not allow you to make informed decisions regarding your transportation options. They will make a healthy commission on where ever they take you. They will not be directing you to the airport shuttle, the hotel shuttle, or the public bus station. They will most likely direct you to a pirate taxi or an official taxi that is in on the scam.

We 100% guarantee that you will be ripped off
, you may not get to your destination, you will arrive later to your destination than taking an official service, you will be told that your destination hotel is 'full' or 'a bad choice', or 'closed for renovations'. In some countries, following touts and entering pirate taxis could end up with you involved in a serious situation where you find yourself making a significant ATM withdrawal or worse.

Taxi touts suk
Sign at Kuala Lumpur Airport: Say no to taxi touts!

Many airport authorities are aware of touting activities, but few enforce any rules and in some cases the airport was even designed to encourage touting! Some countries are very corrupt, so try to do a little research before your trip.

Discussing a price with a tout indicates your interest and makes them even more hungry. So unless you are serious, never ask the price. This rule also applies to dealing with vendors on your travels.

Not all touts are bad, although most are. In smaller airports situations may arise where official taxi drivers or shuttle drivers themselves solicit passengers. This can get you a seat faster and on your way. It could be a question asked of you, such as "You need a taxi sir?" If your response is "no", and if you are not hassled any further then likely this is not a touting scam -- but use your instincts.

PS: if you want to do more to research ground transportation before you leave home, be sure to check out our 500+ free ground transportation guides to airports worldwide. We'd love to help you arrive stress free! 

Read the other posts in our Smart Travel Advice series:
If you've missed it, you might also enjoy reading this story about how we got our name: Do We Really Hate Taxis?

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Airport Arrival Advice

We at are regularly visiting new locations and over the years, we have found following a routine works well and makes your arrival more stress-free. Here is our list of recommendations for arriving at a destination that you have never been before as stress-free as possible.
Enter Russia, passport/customs
Arriving and Claiming Your Luggage

Arrival at Schipol Airport
  • You will need some local currency when you arrive. You should be thinking about this well before you land. Are you going to exchange some Euros or US Dollars for local currency or are you going to visit an ATM? How much local currency will you initially need?
  • Go through immigration. Make sure you have your passport and visa (if required) ready.
  • Claim your luggage and make sure that it is yours! It is amazing how  many bags are black in colour. If you have common looking luggage then place a colourful ribbon or some other easy marker on it. Or better yet, only take carry-on luggage.
  • If your luggage is lost, visit the lost luggage office immediately.

  • Study the Local Currency
    BJ 北京首都國際機場 Beijing Capital International Airport BCIA FX Currency Exchange self-service machine Aug-2010
    • If there is an option of changing currency or using an ATM before going through customs then we highly recommend doing this now. The reasons are simple as you are in a secure area of the airport and will likely not have problems or be hassled.
    • If you now have local currency and are not familiar with it, take some time to study the local currency. Are the bills different colours? Are they different sizes? Stash most of your money away, but have enough for getting yourself to your hotel. If you do not have small bills or change, plan on purchasing something or asking for smaller denominations.
    • Go through customs.
    Being a Smart Traveller in the Airport Chaos
      Airport Arrival
      Shanghai chaos
      Now the chaos begins and the reason behind was created. In many countries around the world, expect to be hassled as soon as you exit the customs area. Touts live here and make very good money preying on the fresh new tourists that come through the customs area.
    • Ignore all touts. You don't need to tell them your name, where you are going, where you are from, what hotel you are staying at, or anything else. Would you tell this to someone at an airport at home? Not likely, so don't do it here either. In some locations they will follow you like hungry mosquitoes, meaning that they stand to earn a healthy commission if you fall for their ploy. If they are persistent, then telling them that you have a friend picking you up or you are catching a connecting flight shortly might work. See our tips on dealing with touts for more information.
    • If you did not have the opportunity to visit a currency exchange or ATM then go ahead and find one now. If you have touts following you then get rid of them, as they pose a serious security risk to you exchanging or withdrawing money. Sometimes heading up to the departures level will work "I need to catch a flight now". If you need to duck into a bathroom to check the money or load a money belt then go right ahead.
    Airport Ground Transportation Options
    designated Taxi queue
    Taxi queue at Singapore Airport
    • You likely have studied your transportation options before arriving and have an idea of how you want to get to your hotel or next destination. If you are ready then follow the directions to get that taxi, airport shuttle, train, or just about anything else.
    • If you are taking a taxi, some airports have a taxi desk to manage incoming taxis. They will take down your destination, possibly translate it, and tell the next available driver where you need to go. You may need to pay the desk for the taxi service or you will pay the driver when you get to your destination. Some airports will change a nominal taxi desk service fee that will be added to your bill.
    • Almost all airport shuttle services have a desk where you may purchase tickets. Rarely will you pay the driver directly.
    • If you are taking a public bus, then you may need to purchase bus tickets in advance of boarding from a vendor in the airport. Ask at the information desk in the airport, but be cautious of anyone hanging around the desk that is very helpful of taking you to buy these tickets (usually these are touts). Some public buses will make change, but it is always best to have exact change in the local currency.
    • On any airport transfer service, ensure that you hand your luggage directly to the taxi or shuttle driver and you see that it is loaded or just load it yourself. In some countries there are scams between drivers and 'luggage loaders', which involves you handing your luggage to someone next to the taxi (or shuttle) to load it into the taxi. Then a tip is demanded for couple of seconds of services. The taxi driver will not leave until the tip is paid to the loader.

    RapidRide at Sea-Tac Airport
    What do you do when you arrive at a new airport to navigate your way? How do you ensure you arrive stress free?

    PS: if you want to do more to research ground transportation before you leave home, be sure to check out our 500+ free ground transportation guides to airports worldwide. We'd love to help you arrive stress free!

    Read the other posts in our Smart Travel Advice series:

    If you've missed it, you might also enjoy reading this story about how we got our name: Do We Really Hate Taxis?