Though you probably know roughly how much a ride via taxi or an app like Uber or Lyft would cost from your home to your local airport, when you travel to a new city or country, all bets are off. Living in New York City, I’m routinely surprised at how inexpensive trips using ride sharing apps are in other cities, but I’m sure there are plenty of others who are much less pleasantly surprised when they realize how much it’s going to cost to get from JFK Airport to Midtown.
At least if you’re traveling somewhere with ride share apps, you have the benefit of knowing how much your ride will be before you get in the car, as well as be confident in the fact that you can pay with credit card. But if you’re somewhere that relies exclusively on taxis to get people to and from the airport, you could run into a few problems; namely, that you won’t technically know how much it will cost until you reach your destination, and you won’t be sure that they take credit cards. The last thing you want to do when you arrive in a new country all jet lagged is to deal with finding the local currency and taking into account the exchange rate.
Fortunately, there are a few ways around this—or at least options to help you prepare a bit more.
Email your hotel or Airbnb host ahead of time
If you’re unsure how much an average taxi or Uber ride will be from the airport to your accommodation, send an email to your hotel or Airbnb host asking how much it should cost. Lexi Alford, 21, who holds the world record for being the youngest person to travel to every country told Bloomberg that she does this before each trip she takes:
Sending this simple email has saved me hundreds of dollars over the years, because I’ve avoided being taken advantage of by taxi drivers with inflated prices or fixed meters. Taxi drivers can be merciless as far as screwing you over, so you need to be very sure on exactly how much it’s going to cost and how long it’s going to take to go from A to B. If you get to the hotel and the meter is unbelievably high, refuse to pay for it. Go inside the hotel and ask for help. And if that doesn’t work, tell them to call the police. If you say that, the driver will give up. I’ve done that in Angola a few times, and in Samoa. And I just did that in Guinea-Bissau.
And in some cases, your hotel may provide a shuttle from the airport to their property, so if you email them asking about taxi or Uber estimates, they may let you know about this service, which may end up costing even less.
Check RideGuru and other sites and apps
If you want to double check what the hotel sent you, or are looking for other estimates, you may want to consult with sites like RideGuru, which allows you to put in your point of origin and your destination, and find out which ride share, car service or taxi company is cheapest. Google Maps now has a ride share option, which gives you an estimate for Uber and Lyft (and possibly other services in the area)—simply type in directions to your destination and tap the little person with their hand up in the air. Apple Maps has a similar option.
As far as apps, there’s Bellhop, which is free and available on iOS and Android. You can also go directly to a ride share company’s site and get fare estimates from them. The Uber and Lyft sites both offer this feature.