Travelling – Taxi’s – saving money

How to save money when travelling. The answer and also the most important mantra is: behave local, pretend to be local, speak local. Meaning, do not behave like a tourist.

In general, careful with taxi drivers. Even when carrying luggage, which immediately makes you out as a tourist, avoiding explanations or talking about expensive adventure trips or giving the impression of arriving from expensive trips does not help to lower the cab fare, but will drive it up.
Especially if needing to make a “deal” with that cab driver. He may agree to an offer initially, but after listening to fancy travel stories, still must talk to his dispatcher. Result, the initially discussed fare has doubled.

Any transportation industry driven by unionized transport companies, or even private, can manipulate their pricing according to who they service. In many countries meters often are not regulated or turned on. Better, to use public transport.

Therefore, any time during my travels I try to blend in as a local, preferably speaking the same language. When it comes to discussing any pricing, not to mention any touristy stuff, or anything that sounds really expensive. Rather, pretending to be some poor schmuck, stuck somewhere, and not having a lot of “dough”, or just going home.  Remember, LOCALS PAY LESS. Even if someone is lugging a heavy suitcase, pretend to live there.

Marrakesh, Morocco: Crazy cab drivers, always want to go anywhere and everywhere, around and around (mostly ending up in the same market square – where their families are selling wares). Tell them right away (en français, SVP) “been in Marrakesh for weeks, go here, not there”. They’ll do it.
St. Martin, Caribique: Needed a taxi, only had a couple French Francs on me. Offering the nice local lady cab driver. She was fine with that. Coming back to my resort, Americans complaining: “cost us 20 Dollars”.

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SOLO TRAVEL

For many years I have been travelling alone. I rent with a kitchen, so I can cook my own meals, is much healthier and less expensive.When arriving in a certain country, be it in North America, Central America, or anywhere in Europe, the next day after arrival I find the local grocery stores with the best prices. For late arrival bring some (next morning) coffee and dry foods for breakfast with you. By the way, last trip Sayulita, Mex. I did arrrive in dark with a cab driver – was totally safe. 

Even in St. Petersburg, Russia, – in that case I took a group travel, with a guide – we stayed in the largest hotel, the Moskwa – it’s as big as a small city. Next door was a huge underground grocery store, where you could buy groceries and water for your evening suppers. Cheap. And St. Petersburg is one of the more expensive cities.

Luggage. I take two small carry-on suit cases, one as cabin baggage, one for checkout. Easier to handle when moving, no need for renting cars or cabs. In fact, I try to never rent a taxi. Because as a woman alone, it is not safe in some locales. One looses control. And misses a lot of wonderful sights when stuffed inside a taxi cab. Then again, as much as I can I speak the local language.

Public transportation: I always before leaving my home research very thoroughly the public transportation system of the country to which I travel. Starting with a map of the airport (arrival), where to go to find the nearest bus station after arrival. Funny example: Spain, Alicante. I had all the information necessary to get out and get onto the bus. Upon arrival, hundreds of European travellers hanging out in the arrivals hall, trying to rent a car (expensive). The local bus was only €3 to get to Alicante, to my hotel. And fast, in couple of minutes I was out and on the bus.Being alone I also avoid to go out after dark. In all those years I had never experienced an attack in a city, no matter where, or anything stolen. Except when it was my own fault.

Usually I choose a town or city as a base, from where to make trips. Mostly using the local bus system, or of course the trains (especially in Europe). Or a boat. Whatever. Mostly I walk. Most importantly: I mix with the locals, using their language. With 4 to 5 languages, I never had a problem to get along. This cannot be emphasized enough. Everything costs you less if you can communicate in the local language.

I avoid tourist spots. And of course large gatherings of people. There were times I found myself in dangerous situations – as far as terrorist activity.  [using Firefox v.19]

TRAVEL EMERGENCY INSURANCES

TIPS ON BUYING TRAVEL INSURANCE

For travel medical emergency or any other travel insurance, my advice is, if you travel from the USA or Canada, try not to buy insurance in North America – be it via a travel agency or some local banks or insurance companies, or online.

My experience has taught me, to get far better deals buying the insurance either in Europe or wherever you travel to, in that country.

I buy everything on the Internet, be it air line tickets or hotels, resorts, travel packages or insurance for the trip.

Example: In 2010 I travelled to Germany and spent over 4 months there in Berlin.

I had taken out a medical insurance on a broker’s internet site. The insurance had their seat in Toronto, Canada. I had a claim, tried to call the insurance from Germany, on my cell phone, told them I need a claim number. They put me on hold at a cost of €20, while some old guy in the background walked away from his desk ?

In conclusion, I cancelled this insurance immediately requesting a refund on my credit card. Then also immediately one day after I bought a travel medical insurance in Germany (including every coverage possible) at a fraction of the cost that the one in Canada had cost me. The insurance in Canada eventually processed the refund, but not my lost telephone costs.

Cost comparison: Canada/USA = $2,000; Germany = €130 same length of trip.

Next example: Beginning of this year, I bought several package travels with a German agency (also online) including for each a good travel medical emergency insurance. Low cost again (for one month travel = €100).

You can trust these agencies there, they will deliver. And most importantly, they are reachable.

The reason for the high cost of insurances in North America most likely is the enormous cost for law suits and third party liability suits.