Travelers get ripped off, a lot.
One of the most common ways of getting ripped off involves taking local transportation and sometimes it seems as if we spend hours every single day trying to negotiate taxi, rickshaws, or tuk-tuk fares wherever we go. No matter how hard we try, we almost always end up paying infinitely higher prices than locals.
After all, we tend to approach the driver with a smile on our face, hand them a piece of paper with our destination scrawled in local script just as the travel guide book instructs us to do, attempt to reach an agreement on the price before we entered their vehicle.
That’s exactly the steps we are trained to take and yet, we repeatedly find ourselves frustrated when the driver quotes us an extraordinarily high price for what we believe to be an extraordinarily short journey.
Eventually, too frustrated and tired to participate in this argument any longer, we accept the inflated price, climb into the vehicle and then proceed to spend days afterward moaning to every other traveler we meet and how everyone is trying to rip us off.
Broken Taxi Meter
Foreign travelers are doing it wrong by approaching taxis, tuk-tuks, and rickshaws around the world and actually attempt to negotiate a price before getting into the vehicle. Locals in most places do not follow this method. Instead, they simply step in and tell the driver their destination.
When’s the last time you’ve seen a local involved in an angry argument with a taxi driver over the fare? It almost never happens.
Why? Because despite what our guidebooks tells us, there is almost always a fare system in place, even in the most undeveloped and chaotic cities of the world.
Unfortunately, travelers automatically assume that such a system couldn’t possibly exist in a place like India or Thailand or Syria and the goal of every taxi driver must naturally be to rip us off.
At that point, unsurprisingly, the driver might see this as an opportunity to earn some extra money and hence the higher than normal fares that we are forced to pay.
How to Pay the Local Fare
Always make sure to ask a reliable local on how the taxi system works. Such reliable people include the staff in the guesthouse, the official information booth at the airport or any local who has no interest in leading you astray.
Do they use meters? Do they have flat rates? How much should it cost to reach the destination?
Not only does this save money, but it saves time and even more importantly, it saves us from all that unnecessary frustration that we carry around in response to being ripped off every time we need to go somewhere.