There is no doubt that Uber has made travelling around another country much easier than navigating unfamiliar routes by car, bus or train. Just a couple of clicks and you’re taken right to your destination.
But are all Ubers equal regardless of which country or city you visit? Yes, but there some things worth researching if you’re planning to Uber around during your travels.
- Does Uber even exist here?
It’s hard to imagine a life without Uber, especially if you’re coming from a big South African city but believe it or not there are still places in the world that Uber hasn’t reached yet. So, before you plan to Uber back to the airport from a remote campsite in a Swiss mountain range – check beforehand that this will even be possible.
- How much is this trip costing exactly?
Payment options are the same around the world, so you can either select cash or credit card to pay for your trip. Paying with cash is easy enough but you will need to know exactly how much your fare will be to ensure you have the cash.
Paying with a credit card is simple, because it will be linked to your account and you won’t have to worry about having enough cash. Just be mindful of the exchange rate -you’ll be quoted in local currency but charged in Rands.
- Watch your data usage
Step one: Turn off roaming! Unless you’re a Sultan with unlimited funds, roaming charges are going to ruin your budget and probably a few months of budgeting after you return. Most countries will have free WiFi available in hotels and coffee shops where you can order your Uber, but you may have to wander for hours trying to find it. And if you’re away from WiFi and need a ride, it’s going to cost you dearly if you’re roaming. The best plan is to buy a visitor’s SIM card with data pre-loaded when you arrive in a new country. (Check before you leave whether your phone allows you to swap SIM cards).
- Safety is key
This is true not just for your safety in an Uber, but also while you’re waiting for one, especially in an unfamiliar country. Uber drivers are only human and may get lost trying to find you. If you’re waiting in a public area, offer the driver some landmarks around you as well as an easy way to recognise you, to avoid waiting for longer than you need to.
If you’re travelling alone always get in the back seat of the car, but before doing so, check that the driver’s name and number plate match what comes up on your app. Always check the back seat and the boot of the car and don’t let a driver rush you into not being able to do the proper checks. Instead of asking the driver for his name, introduce yourself and wait for the driver to do the same, this is just an added check that you’re getting into the right car.
- Charge your phone
It goes without saying that you need a charged phone to order an Uber! But you don’t want to be stuck with no battery when you use the last of it to order the Uber and then are not able to check the driver’s name and number plate or assist the driver in finding you if they get lost. You should always carry a charger as you may find a coffee shop or bar that will allow you to charge your phone for a while, but a better solution is to take a fully charged power bank with you, every day and wherever you go.
- Better safe than sorry
No one knows you better than you know yourself, and although travelling can sometimes heighten our anxiety, if your gut is telling you that something isn’t right, believe it. Don’t get in the car, or casually tell the Uber driver that your destination has changed and ask him or her to stop the car and get out.
These Uber tips are just as relevant for people travelling within South Africa, as they are for international travel. If you are going to a place you’ve never been before, be it an unfamiliar small town or a big city, just as you would research airlines before you book a flight, do your research on how to get around once your reach your destination so that you can just enjoy the sights while being driven around.