There’s a lot here to unpack. While abuse of any kind is never the victim’s fault, there are a few things I would have done differently if I could go back in time. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the mistakes I could have prevented if I’d had a little more foresight, as well as give my top cab safety advice.
Save Emergency Contacts
Overthinking is terrible, but it’s better to be ready for the worst-case scenario. Make a mental note of the local emergency numbers, particularly the police. Even if it’s not a life-or-death scenario, you never know when you’ll need to contact them. It’s also a good idea to keep a list of trusted family members or friends on your phone as emergency contacts. Not only will you be able to keep them informed about your whereabouts, but they will also know who to contact in the event of an emergency.
Enable GPS Tracking
This is connected to the previous point. When I signed into my Google account on my father’s computer, I accidentally discovered a simple way to do this. My father told me after I left home that anytime he opened Google Maps on his computer, he could always see my whereabouts. As a result, he constantly double-checked on Google Maps to see if I was outside or not before making long calls to avoid bothering me. Now, I recognize that not everyone will be comfortable with this approach. This might be a wonderful taxi safety tip if you have trustworthy family members or close friends with whom you feel comfortable revealing your whereabouts. Simply log into Maps on your phone with an account that both you and your trusted contact have access to. For the time being, have your contact turn off GPS tracking, but make sure yours is on. This way, if something goes wrong, your trusted contact will know where you are.
Rideshare services are known by many various names around the world, but the concept is the same. You use an app to summon a registered driver to take you to your selected location, and the price is already calculated for you. This is highly beneficial for a variety of reasons. You won’t have to worry about unintentional detours, and the fixed fee will keep overcharging schemes at bay. Furthermore, most rideshare apps include safety features such as emergency buttons and the ability to report a driver. This deters drivers from engaging in risky behavior in the first place.
Double-checking which car you get into is one of the most critical taxi safety measures. You should always check whether your transportation is legitimate before getting into a cab. Official taxis or licensed ridesharing services called using a well-known app are what I consider legitimate rides. Before going to a new destination, do some research and learn about the city’s official taxis. What colors are automobiles? What kind of taxi signs do they have? Is there any information available on the city’s official rate? The taxis you’ll find at the airport’s taxi stands are almost all official taxis. You can also check to discover if the country you’re visiting has any reputable taxi providers and airport shuttle services.
Official taxis will almost always utilize a meter to compute the cost depending on the distance traveled. However, drivers may want a fixed fare, particularly when seeking to defraud visitors. On a wet night in Shanghai, I flagged down a taxi to drive me a few blocks. For a five-minute drive, the driver tried to charge me 100 RMB (about $14 USD). I approached the next three taxis in line, and they all asked the same fare. As you might expect, despite the bad weather, I decided to go for a stroll.
Asking the driver how much the ride will cost in general is a smart habit to develop. Consider your options if he offers you a fixed price rather than pointing to the meter.
Before getting into the cab, take a thorough look at the license plate and attempt to remember it! This is beneficial in two ways. On the one hand, you’ll have vital information at your fingertips in the event that you need to report an issue. If the driver notices that you are paying attention, he will most likely treat you more gently.
Get Into the Backseat
While it is more normal to sit in the front seat of a taxi in most countries, it is virtually always safer to sit in the back. This can significantly reduce the likelihood of the driver approaching you for sexual purposes. Most of the time, it’s the simple fact that people have the opportunity to act badly against a woman.
Unfortunately, for lone female travelers, waiting in a taxi is not necessarily the best time to unwind. If you’re in a metered taxi, keep an eye on the meter to see how quickly the fare is climbing. Is it appropriate or excessively fast? Make sure the driver notices you’re paying attention. Another useful idea is to use Maps to get driving directions to your desired location. Is your driver taking the shortest route or taking extra detours in order to charge you more?
For your own safety, you should be able to converse and understand some simple terms. As a result, it’s a good idea to learn a few simple phrases in the local language, such as:
- How much is it?
- It’s too costly.
- Put an end to it!
- I’m going to meet up with my friend/boyfriend/husband/father. (It’ll come in handy for the next tip.)
- Thank you for your consideration.
Always say you’re with someone
This safety tip is applicable to all solitary female travelers, but it is especially useful while using a taxi or cab service. NEVER inform your driver that you are traveling alone. Instead, claim you’re on your way to see a friend who lives nearby. Or that your boyfriend or husband is eagerly anticipating your arrival. Make sure your driver knows you’re being well taken care of! Also, act as if you’re familiar with the location. Tell your driver that you’ve visited the place before or that you’ll be staying with a local family. Fake it till you make it, even if it’s your first time in town. Your driver will be less likely to con you or mistreat you if you do it this way.
I truly apologize if this taxi safety advice terrifies you! My goal isn’t to discourage you from taking cabs in the first place. When riding in a taxi, however, as a solitary female tourist, your safety should be your main consideration. Preparation is essential, especially if you’re in such a vulnerable circumstance. As a result, I hope that these cab safety guidelines will assist you in becoming a better-prepared tourist.