You hope that wherever you go, you can trust people like taxi drivers and police officers, but that’s not always the case. While most taxi drivers are just trying to get through each day making an honest living and going back to their own families, there are some that are out to make more money off tourists, because they don’t know the local language or customs. It can be hard to have a great time in a destination when you are nervous dealing with the locals. Dishonest taxi drivers can pick up on this and will immediately figure out how to take advantage of you.
There are places, like Egypt, Turkey and Eastern Europe, where drivers seek out tourists, knowing they have more money to lose and probably don’t know the foreign customs. Don’t get duped. Research what taxi rates should be in your destination before you leave, so you know how much cash to keep in your pocket or wallet and keep everything else hidden away. Even if they demand more money from you, you can show them you don’t have any. If you can’t find any average rates online, then ask a few members of the flight crew what you can expect to pay. They often travel the same routes and use taxis to get back and forth from the airport.
Besides learning about rates, there are more ways to avoid being scammed by drivers:
Never get into an unmarked cab.
Make sure the driver starts the meter when you get into the car.
If the driver claims the meter is broken, get out.
If there are two of you, make sure one stays in the taxi while any bags you have are unloaded from the trunk.
If you can, keep your bags with you in the backseat, so you can always see your belongings.
Don’t engage too much with the driver, since they can use things you say to figure out how much you know or don’t know about the city.
Keep your eyes on the road. If you aren’t looking, you won’t notice if they are taking you the longest way possible.
Agree on rates before riding if fares aren’t posted.
Carry smaller bills, so drivers can’t claim they don’t have change if you give them a large bill.
Take note of the name and number of your driver’s badge. Just in case.
There are people looking to make a dishonest buck everywhere you go. It can be sad to think of all the ways you might be scammed by those that you are trusting to get you to where you need to be, but by being prepared you are less likely to have problems and will know what to look for in order to have a good experience.