While Uber doesn’t exist everywhere, it is common in most cities. I’ve traveled well before Uber existed, and again after it was very popular. Here’s what I’ve learned.
No Language Barrier
When I visited Hong Kong, where Uber is not legal, there was constant confusion between us and the taxi drivers. Finding a taxi at the airport or hotel was no problem. It was the process after we were in the car that became a nightmare. We couldn’t tell them where we wanted to go, and they couldn’t communicate how much we needed to pay.
With Uber, the process is completely handled by the app. Simply order the car, input your destination, and voila!…all without the language barrier frustration that both the driver and passenger experience.
(As a side note, when visiting countries that do not have Uber, use your hotel key card to show the driver where you are staying. Most times, it will have the hotel address listed on it.)
No Cash Needed
The train station in Bucharest is known for it’s high pick-pocketing crimes. So when Tony and I arrived there after a long journey on a night train, the last thing we wanted to be doing was pulling money out of our bags or making withdrawals from an ATM. Thanks to Uber, we were able to logon to the train station WiFi and order a car without having to use any cash.
Pay in US Dollars
While it’s not a huge deal to me, for many, paying in US dollars is a preferred payment method. Since Uber is all driven by the currency of the country your financial institution is located in, you won’t have to worry about dealing with exchange rates and messy math. Oh, and you can still get those handy credit card points 🙂
Because Uber is a US-based company, there are legal benefits that come with using it. The app tracks where the driver takes you, how long the drive takes, and how much you paid. In the event there were a concern with the ride (Did they take you an extra long route to get extra money? Did they not follow the instructions of the app?), the data can be retrieved for review.
Finally, the biggest advantage I have found with using Uber is that the rates are pre-negotiated and set by the app. When Tony and I were in Bratislava, we paid over 25 euros for a 3-mile taxi ride. What could we do though? We didn’t speak the language nor did we know if the culture allowed for disputing with the driver. Uber sets the rates so there’s simply no need to be concerned about getting ripped off.
There are a few disadvantages. If you don’t have an international cell phone plan, you will be dependent on WiFi signal wherever you are. While this is becoming less and less of a problem, it can cause the occasional hiccup if you can’t seem to locate your Uber driver or if they try to call you.
All-in-all, the benefits really outweigh using a taxi and the process is so simple. Give it a shot next time you arrive at an airport and need to find your way to a hotel or AirBNB!
Another bonus from a security standpoint is that the ride is logged and tracked. In the, terrible to think about, scenario of being kidnapped or assaulted there is a very clear trail to follow.