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?

    Sunday 12 February 2012

    IHT Private Car Bookings *NEW*

    Book a private car and arrive stress free!
    IHateTaxis now allows you to directly book a private car to or from selected airports.

    We are excited to offer this new service, as we know how stressful it can be to arrive at a new location and navigate your way through arranging for a taxi, always wondering if there is a taxi scam or pirate taxi around the corner.

    To ensure your peace of mind, we carefully select only the most experienced and reliable operators in each destination. Book your private car through IHateTaxis and arrive stress free.

    To determine if this service is available for where your travel plans are taking you, visit our airport guide for your destination, then click on Taxi. Then look for the Private Car Transfers section part way down the page for booking rates and details.
    This example from Athens Airport shows where to look

    Thursday 9 February 2012

    Do we really hate taxis?

    Well, only really the ones that rip you off. And while we know there are plenty of good taxi operators out there, it was the less scrupulous kind that led to the idea from which the website was born.

    As this is a question we are frequently asked, it makes sense to kick off our new blog with the full story of how we began, and the reasoning behind the "IHateTaxis" name.... 

    Colorful taxis in Bangkok
    The rainbow of taxi colours in Bangkok
    Two Canadian brothers contemplated this website idea back in December 2006 while waiting at their departure gate in Bangkok, Thailand after being ripped off yet again by a taxi driver. Realizing that being ripped off was more-or-less an international problem for travellers, the ideas for a website evolved over the next couple of years. A plan was put into place in December 2008 at the Phnom Penh airport in Cambodia on the back of a few napkins and construction of the site soon followed. 
    The website was born to deal with the ongoing problem and a possible solution that travellers (namely themselves) faced in their various global travel pursuits -- GROUND TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS. Sure one can book their plane ticket, hotel room, car rental, and even attractions online, but something very important was amiss in the new age of travel e-convenience. Simply put, how does one get from the airport to their desired destination and where does one find all of these ground transportation options in a centralized website location?

    Like most travellers out there, both brothers have individually and collectively experienced the shark tank feeding frenzy of extortion at various airports as soon as one clears customs with your luggage.
    Looking dumbfounded, not knowing the going rates of services, and being hassled after a long flight most often leaves you in a state of complete vulnerability. The common resultant outcome is that you end up paying a ridiculous amount of money to get to your hotel and sometimes this unfortunately shapes your first impression of the city or country you are in.
    The name of this website is thus a half jocular expression of this frustration. 
    Leader of the Pack.
    Bangkok traffic
    The website concept then expanded to include information about country profiles (including cultural tips), medical information, electrical information, visas, lost luggage, currency conversion and the list keeps expanding. This was done to avoid surfing several different other websites for this information or shelling out a small fortune for a country guide book every time you step on a plane. Guide books can also become out of date relatively quickly.

    Our website constantly updates ground transportation options at hundreds of airports around the globe. We keep our pulse on this by constantly searching the internet and making contact with various companies operating to or from the airport or other selected destination. We also speak with travellers like yourself whom have recently been to a particular location and can offer useful information. Our Twitter and Facebook accounts were created to facilitate this communication medium. We research all information posted or emailed and then update our web pages accordingly in a quick turn around time so that our website can reflect ground transportation information in real time. We provide continual 24 hour ground transportation options surveillance.

    Our primary goal is to provide a FREE centralized and constantly updated global ground transportation repository so that travellers like ourselves are empowered upon arrival. We do make recommendations based on our research and if you do not agree with our thoughts please let us know why. If several individuals are not happy with a particular airport shuttle service in Miami, for example, then we will seriously look at revising our recommendation.

    Tuk Tuk, Bangkok
    Tuk Tuk for hire in Bangkok
    The intent behind this idea was that of a hobby to assist travellers in this previous e-information void. Undoubtedly an empowered traveler will make smarter decisions and will thoroughly enjoy their trip more. This new form of empowerment will hopefully somewhat curtail the shark tank feeding frenzy of extortion for travellers around the globe.
    So, that's the story of our beginnings. You can also read it on our website here.

    In future posts, we'll introduce you to the brothers, and the rest of the IHT team, and update you on some of our newest developments.

    Thursday 2 February 2012

    Welcome to our new blog!

    You have arrived at IHateTaxis' new blog.... welcome! As we grow and evolve, we want to stay in touch with our site visitors, customers, followers and friends. What better way than through a new blog?

    We've had some exciting recent developments at IHateTaxis that we are looking forward to telling you about. You can read about those here in the months ahead.

    Airports continue to change, and so do ground transportation options. Of course, we try hard to keep our airport guides up to date... but we'll highlight some of the more interesting developments here. Plus we'll keep you up to date on the latest scams so you don't get ripped off!

    We've also got loads of useful travel tips and information tucked away on our website that we'd like to highlight from time to time; we'll do that here.

    Finally, we love feedback, so feel free to leave comments; we promise we'll read them all.

    So you don't  miss a thing, be sure to click the "Subscribe" button.

    PS: If you've subscribed to our newsletter in the past, the good news is that you'll get more news, more often, more conveniently with the new IHateTaxis Blog! Just be sure to subscribe again here on the blog.