Not long ago I’ve learned the importance of making friends with taxi drivers. Each time I travel, I try to make a few changes to make it less of a hassle for myself. My bags have become smaller, and sometimes non existent, and I prefer to show up in a city without having to figure out if language will be a barrier, or if I’ll get one of the taxi drivers who smells of weeks-old panang beef and creek water.
Now, before hopping in a taxi, I allow the drivers to approach me at the airport so I can screen their personality and attitude, and hopefully their odor (not in a creepy way at all). We talk about my travels and theirs, and I ask for tips and advice about the city. Where should I go, eat, see. They gladly offer, and sometimes turn off the meter to show me some sites along the way when I tell them I’ll leave them a generous tip.
Before paying, I ask for their contact information so I can be sure to use them when I return. We become pseudo friends who ask about kids and family and new projects and goals during the ride.