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Interlude… Nov 08

Here’s a little interlude on traveling while you’re traveling. Specifically, in taxis.

Rule of thumb 1: Most drivers are competent, honest, and interesting people. Be friendly and don’t be afraid to carry on a conversation. They are typically good sources of “inside” info about their town. At least that has been my experience.

Rule of thumb 2: You don’t have to be paranoid, but not all of them are, that that’s what makes for this article.

Rule of thumb 3: (And this is a good business practice in general). Make sure everything is agreed on before you get into the vehicle. Once you’re inside, you’re committed to whatever you agreed on, and whatever you didn’t agree on, you’re stuck with whatever the driver decides: Is the fare for you only, or for you and your bags? Is the fare for the whole group or for each of you? Trust, but verify.

Rule of thumb 4: A word about the vehicle. Before you get in, make sure the meter works, and be sure he turns it on. If you put your luggage in the trunk, don’t pay him until everything is unloaded. In some areas taxis without meters are legal. If this is the case (common in the Caribbean, in my experience–not a lot of possible destinations, so they have standard rates for standard destinations), agree on a price for the whole trip before you get in.

Cute taxi in Indonesia

Rule of thumb 5: Unless you want him to take a round-about route, specify that he take the shortest (or fastest) route. This applies mainly to metered rides. When I was young and naive, I got the grand tour on my first visit to Nashville from a fellow who did an excellent job of distracting me by pointing out the sights as he tooled along.

Remember, people enjoy showing off their knowledge. Be an eager student of your teacher, your driver.

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