I have always had a fear of taxis. My imagination gets a little too wild and creative when I think of all the possible scary taxi scenarios. I don’t get anxious about many things, but getting in the car with a stranger (who could be a creepy bad guy) and then having to pay him an undetermined amount of money (remember my yard sale pet peeve) ranks high on my list of anxiety-inducing activities.
I haven’t spend much time in big cities, so I’ve never been forced to get over my taxi-phobia. I’ve only taken a taxi three times- once in New York and twice in Central America. I was never in charge of calling the taxi or paying the cabby. I was always with someone else who knew what they were doing and I just tagged along.
I took my first-ever blog-related trip this month! I had a meeting in Los Angeles and flew down for the day, then back up that evening. That wasn’t the only novelty though. Perhaps the bigger deal was that I went alone. Just me.
It’s been seven years since I’ve gone to the bathroom alone (okay, not quite, but close), so an 18-hour trip completely by myself was particularly noteworthy. Dad got the kids off to school in the morning and Grandma helped take care of the littlest ones during the day.
My biggest dilemma was finding a way to get from the airport to my meeting. I fretted about it for days before the trip. Checking out Google maps, I saw that my meeting was just 10 miles away from the airport. My first thought was “That’s not too far, I could totally walk!” Then my imagination ran away with all the unknowns of walking alone ten miles through Los Angeles. That might be scarier than taking a taxi.
Renting a car was another possibility, but then I would have to drive it in a crazy, crowded, unfamiliar city. Since I was only going to be there just for the day, it would have been much more expensive than my other options, plus I would have to pay outrageous prices to park it anywhere in the city.
I started researching Uber and thought it might just be my answer. The Uber model took care of some of my biggest issues with Taxis:
- You get a price range for your trip when you enter your destination. Part of the fare is a base rate, part is based on distance and part is based on time.
- There is no money exchanged. You pay automatically through the Uber phone app at the end of your ride with the credit card you enter in the app.
- In most cases Uber is cheaper than a taxi. I went online for some taxi estimates so I could compare.
- Your driver wants a good rating. After each ride, you have the opportunity to rate your driver. Maintaining excellent ratings is crucial for their job. This put my mind more at ease about getting a creepy, scary driver.
- You see exactly where you’re at on the app’s map. You can track the car’s position on the route map, so you know your driver isn’t taking you a long round-about way (or kidnapping you). It’s also nice to see your estimated arrival time as you go along.
- There is no tipping. Any tipping outside of a restaurant has always felt awkward for me. There’s no tipping with Uber. The driver works hard to please you to get a good rating, not a good tip.
- You “call” a ride through the app. No making phone calls or hailing a taxi on the street. Big plus for me!
- The app gives the driver your exact location. It’s easy to get picked up even when you don’t know where you are!
I found a code for $20 off your first Uber ride and put that in my app so it was all ready.
When I Get All Brave
So, I did it! All by myself! After a few deep breaths, I used my newly-installed Uber app to request a ride from the airport to my meeting.
I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to know which ride pulling up to airport curb was for me, but I was happy to see that Uber had that all figured out for me. After requesting the ride, the app showed me the name, photo, car model, license plate, and rating of my driver. I could also follow his location on the map in the Uber app.
Once I was in the car and realized my driver was nice and just doing his job, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride.
On my trip back to the airport that evening, I shared an Uber ride with someone I met at the meeting. The Uber app makes this simple. If your friend has the app, you just click share and enter their phone number. They will get a message asking them to verify that they want to split the fare with you. When the ride is over, you’ll each be charged half of the fare.
Give Uber a Try for Free
If you’re traveling in a city with Uber, I totally recommend giving it a try. You can enter my code yadatue to get a credit on your account of up to $20 for your first ride. My account gets a credit as well. Maybe in the next decade I’ll take another solo trip and get to use it. After you take your first ride, you’ll get your own code by which your friends can try Uber for free (or $20 off) and you can also get a credit.
How About You?
- Is there anyone else out there with taxi-phobia, or is it just me?
- Have you tried Uber, Lyft or another ride-share company? What was your experience?