¨I don’t need a driver’s license, my Uber driver needs a driver’s license.¨
Uber Travel Tips
Uber is a welcome transportation provider for many Fifty Plus Nomads; however, it is not perfect.
Fifty-Plus Nomads should take both Ubers and taxis. I take taxis from taxi stands if they are available. However, I do not take taxis from the street because I was express kidnapped in Puebla, Mexico.
We travel consumers will be better served in the long run if we can have both options available.
Check out the travel tips below to help you get the best rides:
What is Uber?
Uber is an alternative to taxis. After installing an app on your telephone, you can call for a car to pick you up and take you to your destination. The vehicle and driver are not associated with a taxi company.
It is easy for anyone with a car and a clean driving record to become a driver. Generally, because the drivers are private contractors, the cost of Uber trips is 10-30% below a comparable taxi trip.
Uber uses GPS (Global Positioning Systems) to:
- Tell the drivers where the customer is automatically (using GPS technology) and let the customer know (and if necessary, change) where the driver will pick them up.
- Show the customer the name (and sometimes a photo) of the driver, the license number, and what type of car will pick them up (also sometimes with a picture).
- Display where the driver is in relationship to the pick-up point in real time.
- Provide an estimate of how long it will be before the driver will arrive and how much the trip will cost.
- Allow the customer to enter the name or address of their destination (most businesses and landmarks are already programmed in the app).
- Show, once the destination is selected, the recommended route (taking into consideration as much as possible the road and traffic conditions) to get the customer to their destination.
- Display where the driver is in relationship to the GPS recommended route once on-the-road.
- Let the customer know the costs of the trip and allow them to add a tip for the driver once the trip is finished.
- Keep a record of the customer’s trips. Once the customer has done the same route a couple of times, he or she can program the same trip easily in the future.
To use Uber, you should have both a new (no more than five years old) cell phone (the app takes up a lot of space on older phones) and an unlimited data plan.
There are several similar apps available. However, I will limit this discussion only to Uber because I have never used their competitors.
Since I do not have a car, I have used Uber over 300 times in the past two years and a half in over 20 destinations in the US, Canada, and Mexico. I still use regular taxis for about one-third of all trips (for reasons you will see below). Here are some of the things that I have learned during this time:
Advantages of Uber versus Traditional Taxis
- Since a computer algorithm determines the pricing, Uber is less likely to overcharge you than a taxi driver.
- Since the driver is supposed to follow the GPS recommended route, it is unlikely that you will get lost. If the driver gets lost, you won´t have to pay any additional cost.
- You do not need cash. You can often use credit cards in traditional taxis as well. However, sometimes it can take time for the taxi driver to run the credit card charge and not all taxis have the necessary equipment to process credit card payments. In Uber, the cost is automatically applied to your credit card.
- You have a lot more information at your fingertips than with traditional taxis. You know the driver’s name, car license number, type of car, etc. You also have a history of past trips taken.
Uber Travel Tips
- Uber will not always pick you up/drop you off where you are or want to go. Often, the driver will pick you up on the other side of the street from where you are standing. Sometimes, the driver will call you to help arrange the pick-up point.
- You may pay a fee if you or the driver cancels the trip. (You will be charged if the driver comes to the destination, waits for you, and then leaves if they cannot find you). A couple of times I have been charged this fee because the driver could not see me. (Unlike taxis, Ubers are not marked). Sometimes it is difficult to know where the driver is supposed to meet you, especially if the driver is on the other side of a road with a lot of traffic.
- Ubers do not go everywhere and are not available in many small towns. I could not get them to pick me up at a friend’s house who lives in a small suburb near Boston, called Nahant, that is on a peninsula. because the drivers couldn’t easily find the address in the town.
- Uber may not save you money during peak hours, particularly in developed countries. Unlike taxis, Ubers have something called surge pricing. With surge pricing, the cost of the route increases whenever there is more demand than usual, particularly after a special event.
- Uber has engendered a lot of problems with taxicab drivers. Traditional taxi drivers have a lot of investment in the business including the cost of the license and the fees that they need to pay to the taxi companies. Taxi drivers often protest whenever Uber comes to town. These protests can be heated. In Cancun, the protests were so heated that Uber no longer operates there.
- In my mind, one of the best benefits of Uber is that regular cabs have gotten significantly better. As a result, taxis are still often a viable alternative. I use Uber whenever there is not a taxi stand at my pick-up point. I usually take taxis whenever there is a taxi stand nearby. (I also suspect that Uber will get worse if there is not competition from local cab companies).
- Uber may be great if you do not know where you are going. You can enter either the destination’s address or the name of your destination (make sure that it is the right hotel if the hotel is part of a chain) and the driver will take you there. I have had a lot of problems finding the right place if a traditional taxi driver has not been to an address before and he or she does not have a good GPS in their taxi.
- Uber chooses the route the driver follows based on the information that the GPS has about road and traffic conditions. If you know the route between your pick-up and destination well, the route may be different than you expected. Once in a rare while, in Montreal, I have noticed that the course selected by the GPS was not the best available. (Probably because the information in the GPS was out-of-date).
- Always double-check to make sure that you are going to the right destination. It is easy to select the wrong destination if you are not careful, especially if a business has several locations within the same city. It is also possible to accidentally select the wrong place.
- Be prepared to get into the car quickly after you call. While most Ubers arrive five to seven minutes after you place the order, occasionally they arrive within a minute after the call. (On the other hand, if your pick-up point is in a rural, out of the way place or during peak travel times it can take up to twenty minutes).
- Here is some information about safety, tipping, and the advantages and disadvantages of using Ubers versus traditional taxis.
Other Transportation Related Advice From Fifty Plus Nomad
- 200+ of the Best Expat and Long-Term Travel Quotations From Fifty-Plus NomadAll of my blog posts lead off with a quote that is relevant to the subject of the post. I also frequently post quotes on my Facebook group page: Long Term Traveling and Living Abroad Over the Age of 50. This page of quotes is from my blog and Facebook group page mostly. However, I have added a few extra of my favorite travel-related quotes.
- 7 Secret International Public Transportation TipsRead these seven secret international public transportation tips and save money and problems when taking public transportation abroad.
- 10 Taxi Travel Tips: A Guide to Safe and Trouble-Free Rides at Bargain PricesDiscover 10 tips to help you avoid being ripped off or worse (I was once kidnapped) while using taxis or tuk-tuks.
- Top 9 Train Travel Tips for a Comfortable JourneyTrains are my favorite ways to travel: relaxing, comfortable, and convenient. However, they can be problematic unless you follow these 8 train travel tips.
- Top 11 Subway Travel Tips: The Ultimate Guide to Trouble-Free Subway TravelI love traveling by subways whenever possible, They are much easier and more convenient than intracity buses. After being on twenty subway systems worldwide, I developed this list of 11 tips to help you use subways trouble-.free.
- 4 Car Rental Tips: How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off at the Car Rental CounterRenting a car is probably the travel decision most fraught with potential problems. Long-term travelers should ask themselves if a car rental is essential, and they should also watch out for car agency rip-offs and other issues.
- Top 13 Little-Known International Bus Travel TipsA basic primer on finding the best international bus travel options for travelers. Learn how to avoid costly mistakes and potential safety issues on busses.
- 15 Uber Travel Tips: A Guide to Best Safe, Budget, and Trouble-Free RidesThis post contains a list of 15 tips to make your Uber trips safe, convenient, and low-cost. It also explores how Ubers are different from traditional taxis.
- 8 Horrifying Lessons From An Express Kidnapping In MexicoIn January 2020, I was a victim of an express kidnapping in Puebla, Mexico. I discuss what happened to me and what I learned about travel safety from the incident.
- Ancillary Travel Fees: Why Are They Increasingly Becoming An Industry Lifeline?More and more the travel industry depends on the sale of other products to expand and maintain its profitability. Expect to be bombarded with hints to buy other things (ancillaries) on your next cruise, flight, etc.
- Why the Sharing Economy Has Become So Popular in the Travel Industry?The sharing economy like Uber and Airbnb has made a major influence on the travel industry and will continue to affect the industry far into the future.