Avoid Taxi Scams in Mexico

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taxi scams in mexico

Everyone is susceptible to being scammed, but tourists are at a larger disadvantage because they are not familiar with local customs. Most of Mexico does not use a digital meter system, which makes it far more likely you will unknowingly overpay for your taxi just about anywhere in the country. A big part of Mexican culture and tradition is haggling over prices. Taxis are not exempt from this. Drivers have been known to make a quote three times more expensive than what the actual cost should be. Many tourists don’t know any better and accept the drivers without thinking twice.

The biggest reason tourists are paying more for taxis is because they look like tourists. It’s hard not to look like a tourist, so at least try not to act like a tourist. If you have the confidence of a native or, at least, a well-seasoned traveler, you’ll pay less than you would otherwise. Haggle with confidence. Demonstrate you’re aware of fair pricing. If you paid a certain rate one way, you should pay a similar rate going back. Letting the driver know you are in-the-know about local customs and pricing helps keep rates fair and reasonable.

Not all taxis have meters in Mexico. Ask the price before you get in the taxi. Even if there is a meter, ask, but you definitely need to ask if there isn’t a meter in the taxi. It is the custom in Mexico to ask the cost before hopping in and heading on your way. If you don’t ask, it’s a big neon light saying you’re a tourist, and the driver will drastically over charge you. If you don’t ask, you have no room for negotiating at the end of your trip. Rates to and from the airport are less negotiable because they are set and standardized, so you probably can’t negotiate for a taxi at the airport.

Do a little research. You can usually find out the fares for areas in Mexico online. Short trips will cost you between 35 and 50 pesos. Hourly rates can vary depending on the area, but they are good to know. If you know how much an hour costs, you’ll be able to better estimate when you’re being overcharged. Before approaching taxi drivers, you should have a basic idea of how much you want to pay for a trip. In cities for a 15 minute trip, you should expect to pay around 50 pesos. Rates will be higher in tourist saturated areas. If you’re not afraid of getting some exercise, walk to a less touristy area. In busy areas with lots of tourists and attractions, you will pay much higher rates. Walking a few blocks away from these areas can save you a decent amount of money.

Having a nonchalant attitude can be helpful. This shows drivers you’re not desperate for a ride and you’re willing to wait for a good price. Approach the driver casually and ask for a quote. Don’t be afraid to laugh and walk away. If the quote is terribly high, just walk away; it’s likely they will yell a much more reasonable price as you leave.

Brushing up on basic Spanish is also a great way of dealing with taxi drivers. They don’t all speak English. Even those who do speak English will appreciate you at least trying to communicate with them in their language in their country. It can help you get a better fare. 

Credit card machines are not a given in Mexican taxis. Carrying cash ensures your ability to take a taxi. Many drivers will refuse to make change for larger bills, so keep small bills accessible when traveling. Tipping is not necessary, but you can. Tipping is only done when the driver helps with luggage or something else that is not in their job description. If you are really impressed with your driver, you can ask for their card. This way you can give them a call the next time you need a ride.

Mexico is a beautiful place to experience. If you do a little research, stick to your guns, and haggle with confidence, you shouldn’t have any problem getting where you need to go at as reasonable a price as you can expect. 

How to change a flat tire quickly!

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change a flat tire

Flat tires are the worst, and they always come at the most inconvenient time. It’s important to know how to change a tire correctly and quickly, so you’re not stranded waiting for help.

You don’t have to be a car person to change a tire. It is easier than people think. Flat tires are almost impossible to miss. If it goes flat while you’re driving, there is no missing it. If you start driving with a flat, you’ll notice it immediately. Steering and accelerating becomes very difficult; you will also hear a flapping or grinding sound. When you identify a flat tire, pull over immediately to a safe and as far out of the way spot as possible.

Flat tires require basic tools and equipment. It is always best to keep these items in your trunk in case a flat tire happens. If you don’t have these items and you find yourself in trouble, you’ll need to call for roadside assistance. These items can be purchased at automotive stores, home improvement stores, and superstores.

  • A spare tire (Most cars come with a spare tire, or donut, hidden in the trunk. It’s best to check.)
  • Your owner’s manual (Every car has one. Keep it in your glove box for easy accessibility.)
  • Wheel wedges
  • Lug wrench or tire tool
  • Car jack
  • Tire pressure gauge

Changing a tire is quite easy, but you do need to follow these steps.

  1. Park in a safe and flat location.
  2. Turn the car off and read your owner’s manual to make sure there are no special instructions or procedures for your specific vehicle.
  3. Place wheel wedges in front of front wheels for a back tire change and behind back wheels for a front tire change.
  4. Pull the spare tire out of the trunk. Place in a safe spot and flat on the ground so it can’t roll away.
  5. Using the flat end of the lug wrench, remove the hubcap.
  6. The other end of the lug wrench is for the nuts.
  7. Turn each nut counterclockwise by a half turn. Do not take them off completely.
  8. Near the tire, there should be a flat spot in the car frame for the car jack to go. Jack the car up so the flat tire is six inches above the ground.
  9. Using the lug wrench, completely remove the nuts.
  10. Pull the tire off the car and lay it flat in a safe place.
  11. Place the spare tire on the vehicle in the same position as the flat tire.
  12. Using your hands, tighten the nuts into place as much as possible. Then use the lug wrench to tighten the nuts fully. Lean into the wrench to ensure they are secure.
  13. Lower the car onto the ground by releasing the jack.
  14. Put the hubcap back on the tire.
  15. Check the tire pressure on the spare tire before driving away. If it does not meet the requirements, drive to a gas station to fill the tire.

Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to get on your way. If you are driving on a spare tire that is a donut, you cannot drive over 50 mph. You will want to get a new tire as soon as possible to ensure the safety of your vehicle.

The one car maintenance step everyone forgets about!

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This article first appeared on RideGuru.

Whether you are a taxi or Uber driver, or own your own car, car maintenance is incredibly important to stay on top of. If you regularly maintain your car through oil checks and tire rotations, the chances that your car will last longer than you expected are quite good.

While many people remember to get their oil changed, not many people understand the importance of cleaning and maintaining your car battery. Keep reading below for the exact steps on how to clean your car battery terminals from our friends at RideGuru.

how to clean a bar battery

Cars depend on a lot of components to work smoothly and it is important to take care of your individual car parts in order for your car to function properly. One of the simplest and easiest to maintain yet vitally important components is the battery. 

Cleaning your car battery regularly means you can continue using your car whether you’re getting around town, road tripping, or relying on your car as a rideshare driver. Not only does keeping the car battery clean help keep your car running, it extends the life of the battery, which saves you money. It’s not the most expensive part in your car, but a dead battery can put a damper on your budget.

Car batteries have two terminals. It’s important to keep these clean. They can get dirty from basic everyday usage in cities to country roads. The build up will eventually cause the battery to wear out. Corrosion also puts car batteries in jeopardy. You can tell there’s corrosion on your battery by looking at the terminals; if they are covered in a white substance, there is corrosion affecting your battery. You don’t have to clean your battery every month, but you can check it every few months. If you see buildup, signs of corrosion, or it is emitting a funky smell, it’s time for a clean up.

There are a few ways to clean your battery. Before digging in, it’s important to open your owner’s manual to make sure there are no special instructions. You can clean with household items or professional supplies. 

For the household direction:

1. Grab an old toothbrush, a wrench, water, baking soda, a rag, and vaseline. 

2. Using the wrench, disconnect the negative side first. 

3. Loosen the positive side. 

4. Look over the battery for signs of leakage. If there is too much damage, it will need replacing.

5. Cover the terminals and surrounding areas with baking soda.

6. Using the wet toothbrush, scrub the terminals until debris is removed. Wet the brush as needed. 

7. Pour water over terminals to clear baking soda and debris. 

8. Dry with a dry rag. 

9. Repeat these steps on the clamps. 

10. Cover the terminals with vaseline. 

11. Re-secure the positive side. 

12. Re-secure the negative side. 

To use professional supplies:

1. Grab a wrench, battery terminal cleaner, battery terminal protector, dry rag, wire brush, spray bottle filled with water. You can find these items at most automotive stores at superstores. 

2. Remove the battery cables from the terminals as mentioned in the above directions. Negative always before the positive side. 

3. Spray the terminals and the clamps with the cleaner. Let it soak for the amount of time specified on the bottle. 

4. Using the wire brush, scrub the terminals, clamps, and surrounding area until the debris is gone. 

5. Spray the terminals and clamps with water to clear away the cleaner and the debris. 

6. Dry completely with rag. 

7. Coat the terminals with a thin layer of protector as directed. 

8. Re-secure the positive side. 

9. Re-secure the negative side.

When in Rome, Take a Taxi

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rome taxi

When in Rome, enjoy the city from the backseat of a taxi.

Hailing a taxi in Rome requires finding a taxi stand. They are easy to find and all over the city. A simple orange sign with the word “Taxi” will be the place you want to go. Often times, there is a line of taxis waiting to pick up passengers at the stand. It’s first come first serve, so be kind and don’t cut in line. If there are no taxis, just wait; one will show up shortly. On holidays or during rush hour, it might take a couple minutes longer than other times. If you don’t want to find a stand or risk waiting, you can always call a taxi operator. Your taxi will usually pick you up in five minutes or less. The driver will turn on the meter when they start driving to pick you up, so you will pay more than you would otherwise.

Licensed and legal taxis in Rome are white. They are easy to identify. Taxis are modern vehicles with air conditioning, but many drivers prefer to have the windows rolled down. If you’re there in the summer, prepare to enjoy the weather.

Taxi fares are standardized and regulated, so you will pay the same fare no matter the taxi. Taxis have meters, which will determine the price of your taxi ride. Fares begin at €3 between 6:00am and 10:00pm Monday through Friday; €4.50 Saturday, Sunday, and holidays; €6:50 everyday between 10:00pm and 6:00am. For the first €11, you’ll pay €1.10 per kilometer. Between €11 and €13, you’ll pay €1.30 per kilometer. Over €13, you’ll pay €1.60 per kilometer. Don’t make your driver wait for you, or you will pay €27 an hour. Your first suitcase is free; €1 is added for every additional suitcase. €2 surcharge is added for trips to and from the Termini station.

Taxis are equipped with credit card machines, so you can usually pay with a credit card, just not an American Express. You should carry cash just in case because the machines have a tendency to be down for unknown reasons. You don’t need to tip in Rome because it is not the custom.

There are two airports in Rome. The Ciampino and the Fiumicino. The nice thing about taxis to and from the airport is the taxi prices are fixed as long as you are traveling inside the Aurelian Walls. The price covers up to four people and there is no surcharge for luggage. To or from the Ciampino airport will cost a total of €30. The Fiumicino airport has a higher price of €48.  You can always use TaxiFareFinder to find a taxi and figure out your fare on your travels in Rome. It’s a city of history and culture. Don’t worry about transportation, just enjoy the sites.

Secure Your Rental Car and Avoid Break Ins

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how to prevent car break in

Break ins are terrible. They come at the worst time, and no one likes their privacy invaded or their things being stolen. It’s even worse in a rental car because it doesn’t belong to you. It’s important to “theft proof” your rental car to keep the risk of break ins to a minimum.

  • If you can, try and rent a car with license plates matching the state you are in. This makes you look more like a local and less like a tourist.
  • Hide your valuables. Keep anything of value out of sight. Place large valuables locked away in the trunk. Smaller items can be tucked under seats or in glove compartments.
  • Try and put your things in your hotel or the place you’re staying as quickly as possible.
  • Park in a safe place. Hotel staff can point out the safest parking spots. It’s always good to park directly under lights at night. If there are security cameras, park in their direct line of sight. You can also try and park near police stations or other businesses where there are lots of witnesses or foot traffic.
  • Don’t leave maps or tourist items visible in the car. If you want to look like a native, buy a local newspaper and leave it in the back seat.
  • As long as there are no valuables in the car, you can leave the car unlocked at night. It sounds counterintuitive, but thieves check the doors before breaking windows. If they go through the car and there is nothing to steal, you’re saving yourself money replacing a broken window.
  • If the contents of your trunk are visible, like in a hatchback, make sure it’s visible and empty at night. If thieves see there is nothing in your car, they are less enticed to break in.
  • Keep your doors locked even while you’re in the car. In large cities, thieves might try and break in while you’re in the car at a stoplight or stop sign. So stay alert.

Rental cars are break in magnets because tourists are often thief magnets. When traveling, you tend to keep more things in the car than you would otherwise, so it’s even more important to avoid break ins.

How to Take a Taxi in Porto

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taxi porto

Porto is a beautiful city with tons to offer travelers. One of the easiest and fastest ways of getting around is by using their taxi system. Taxis are a great way of getting around the city, and they are the fastest way of getting to and from the airport.

Taxis are very easy to spot in Porto. They feature a green roof and a beige or black body. Taxis are required to have meters or they are not legally operating. Check to make sure they have one before hopping in. Most taxis around the city cost between €4 and €7. Fares are regulated by meters and are standard across taxi services. Taxis will have their rates posted in the backseat. Drivers must also provide passengers with a receipt after the ride is over. If you think you’re being deceived, check the rate and call the company if there is a problem. There is a 20% surcharge at night between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am. The surcharge is also in effect on Saturdays, Sundays, and on holidays. The surcharge is taken into account automatically by the meter in the taxi. If you go out of the city limits, even to Vila Nova de Gaia, you’ll pay extra for the trip. Tolls are also the responsibility of the passenger; the cost will be added automatically to your fare. 

To get a taxi, you can either hail one at a taxi rank or by calling the taxi company directly. Taxi ranks are found all over the city, so you shouldn’t have to wander far to hail one. If you hail a taxi by contacting the company by phone, €.80 will be added onto your fare.

Most taxi drivers are well versed in English, making it easy for tourists to get around.

Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport is a twenty to thirty minute taxi ride to and from downtown. There are several taxi companies operating in Porto and at the airport, so you will have no trouble locating a taxi. You can find the taxis right outside the arrivals terminal. Because taxis are metered, you can’t haggle at the airport. Prices are between €20 and €30 depending on where you’re going, time of day, and the traffic. If you have suitcases, you will be charged an extra €1.60. You can always use TaxiFareFinder to find a taxi and figure out your fare on your travels in Porto. Enjoy the city without the hassle.

Stay Healthy on Your Next Trip with These Tips

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healthy traveling

Traveling is exciting. However, being under the weather puts a damper on the trip and all the fun you could be having. So stay healthy before, during, and after your next trip with these easy tips.

  • Drink lots of water and take vitamin C before leaving on your adventure. Water will keep you hydrated. Vitamin C will help boost and maintain your immune system so you don’t get sick before you leave and protect you on your trip.
  • Visit a travel healthcare provider. They can help you come up with a plan to stay healthy on your trip. They will also alert you to anything you need to know about your destination and staying healthy while still enjoying the sites.
  • Get eight hours of sleep a night. Sleep does a lot in keeping people healthy. Getting sleep before you leave is a great precaution. Sleeping on your trip will also keep you from coming down with something.
  • Washing your hands is simple, but it can have a huge impact. Keep away the germs by scrubbing as much as possible.
  • There are destinations where water is not as clean as it is at home. Your body won’t be used to the bacteria in the water, which can make you sick. Even if the locals are drinking tap water, you probably shouldn’t. Drinking bottled water avoids this problem and the stomach bugs. 
  • Gastrointestinal problems can be a huge problem for travelers. It’s not always possible or practical to ensure food safety and staying away from cross contamination, but follow your gut. Eating thoroughly cooked food helps. Salads and other uncooked food can be carriers of unpleasant illnesses. Try and eat places where you can see the kitchen. Street food is actually a good idea for this reason.
  • Go on adventures like hiking or other outdoorsy or physical activities. Keeping the body moving keeps the metabolism and immune systems moving. Being in shape or, at least, trying keeps people healthier overall not just on vacation.
  • The sun can cause a lot of problems from sunburn to heat stroke to sun poisoning. Wear a hat. Put on sunscreen. Stay hydrated. Keep tabs on yourself because the sun can be fun, until it’s not.
  • Vaccinations and medications are important. They might even be necessary required depending on your destination. Being up to date and taking medications as directed could mean the difference between a great vacation and contracting a fatal illness.
  • Mosquito nets will protect you from the itchy bug bites, but they will also protect you from diseases transmitted through mosquito bites. Sleeping under mosquito nets will keep this danger away. 

Best Fall Travel Destinations

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Best Fall Destinations Travel

Fall is a unique time of year. The air gets crisp, the leaves turn beautiful colors, sweaters come out of the closet, and scents of apple and cinnamon waft through the air. Or at least those things happen in a perfect world. Many areas don’t experience fall in the iconic way, which makes it the perfect time to take a vacation to enjoy it.

Portland, Maine

portland maine

Portland, Maine is big enough but with small town charm. It’s a gorgeous destination to enjoy everything a New England fall has to offer. Sitting on the ocean, it has close proximity to lighthouses, forests, cuisine, islands, boats, nightlife, and beautiful scenery.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

steamboat springs colorado

Steamboat Springs, Colorado has all of the Americana you could want. Walking downtown in fall is like walking in a postcard. It’s known for skiing, but before the snow falls couldn’t be better. It’s the quiet time of year, so you don’t have to compete with hoards of tourists to enjoy the outdoors at Fish Creek Falls, Strawberry Springs, or hiking Mount Werner. There are tons of food options ranging from swanky to diner delicious.     

Mount Hood National Forest

 mount hood national forest

Mount Hood National Forest is two hours East of Portland, Oregon. It is one of the most beautiful spots in the country year round, but is breathtaking in autumn. There is so much to do and see if you love the outdoors.

Washington DC

washington DC

Washington DC is perfect every time of year, but fall seems to be an underappreciated season for the city. With all of the monuments and memorials, there are always people visiting, but fewer people visit in mid to late fall. The city becomes enchanting as the leaves turn colors around the historic city. With so much to do and see, you’ll never get bored or lack an Instagram moment.

Lake Tahoe

lake tahoe

Lake Tahoe is known for its beauty in the summer and winter, but it is just as fun in the fall. With fewer tourists and more comfortable weather, you can still enjoy the same summer water activities. If you plan a late fall trip, you may even catch some snow.

Charleston, SC

charleston sc

Charleston, South Carolina is the East Coast version of New Orleans. It has a lot of similar charms, and that charm is elevated during autumn. It is boiling hot during the summer, so fall is the perfect time to enjoy all the history and food this city has to offer.

The Grand Canyon

grand canyon fall

The Grand Canyon is a treasure. Summer and spring are the busy season, but you’ll still catch all the fabulous views at a lower cost and without the tourists if you go in the fall. The heat and humidity drop making the scenery even easier to enjoy.

When you find yourself caught up in the autumnal beauty of your destination, remember you can always use TaxiFareFinder to find and estimate the cost of your transportation. No matter where you find yourself, autumn is the perfect season to vacation. And everywhere has something special to offer.

Traveling: What to Pack in Your First Aid Kit

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first aid kit when traveling

While it might sound a little dorky to pack a first aid kit for your trip, having emergency supplies handy will be anything but dorky if you need them. Accidents happen all the time in everyday life. Vacations can be accident magnets because people are enjoying their adventures to the fullest. Before you head off on your next trip, take a moment to make a first aid kit with all the things to solve life’s little problems.

  • Get a small pack or bag or something to house all of your first aid materials. It can say First Aid, or it can be something cute and personal.
  • Antiseptic wipes are vital to disinfecting scrapes and wounds to keep infection at bay. Individually wrapped kind are best because they ensure sanitation.
  • Antibacterial cream is good to put on after disinfecting and before a bandage.
  • Bandages or Band Aids. You’ll want some of all sizes for anything from a tiny paper cut to a knee gash. Non-latex are a great way to go in case you help someone who has a latex allergy.
  • Gauze, the non-stick variety, is perfect for padding sensitive booboos, stopping minor bleeding, or dressing larger wounds. Sterile individually wrapped gauze sheets are convenient to pack but also best to keep away infection.
  • Antihistamine cream will keep itching to a minimum if you come in contact with poison ivy or bug bites.
  • Surgical or medical tape. This is helpful for securing gauze. You can even secure band aids with tape when they are cover joints or hard to secure spots.
  • Tweezers are often forgotten, but they are great for getting out splinters and other debris which can get caught in wounds. You should always wipe them with an unused disinfectant wipe before and after using them.
  • Loperamide or Imodium stops diarrhea for small periods of time, which can help in a pinch.
  • Pain relief or anti inflammatory medication is good to have on hand to help keep mild pain away. Try and find the individually wrapped or travel sized bottles so you’re not carrying around 500 pills. 
  • Ace bandages are good for a variety of reasons. They can stabilize a sprain or secure gauze on larger wounds. Just one will do.
  • Condoms are not only good for protecting against STDS and pregnancy. They can be used to hold ice for an impromptu ice pack.
  • Scissors are helpful but not completely necessary. You can trim bandages and gauze with them.

First aid kits are a great resource to have on hand every day but especially on travels. Small injuries can be quickly and easily taken care of with a first aid kit. Not only will it help you, but it can also help other people you encounter on your travels. Who knows, they might even become your friends!

School Bus Safety Tips

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school bus safety

It’s that time of year again. The kids are back to school, and school buses are out twice a day. School bus safety is important and pertains to the children riding on them, the parents with kids on the bus, and drivers on the road. School buses have safety features to keep kids safe while they ride, but it’s very important drivers are aware of the precautions they need to take and the rules they need to follow.

School buses are a safe form of transportation. Safety features on buses vary depending on the model of bus. Buses are almost always equipped with emergency exits. There is often a hatch in the roof. There is also a rear door for emergency exits. Usually, there are two exit windows in the bus. These are to protect children in case of accidents. 

Kids riding the bus should follow a few simple rules to make sure they get to school and home safely and quickly.

  • Always face forward. Getting up, turning around, sitting backwards in the seat can cause injury to children if the bus ends up in an accident.
  • Keep your backpacks or any other bags on your lap or under your seat. Keeping the aisles clear means kids can get on and off quickly without tripping.
  • Throwing objects is not permitted. Bus drivers need to focus on the road. Airborne objects can cause injury to children and could even be the cause of an accident if it hinders the driver.
  • When getting off the bus to cross the street, it is important to look.

Parents also have some rules to follow when picking up or dropping off their children at the designated spot.

  • Park in a safe place at a distance away from the spot. This allows the bus to arrive and depart safely.
  • Arrive five minutes early. Sometimes buses run quickly, and you don’t want your child waiting without you.
  • Allow the bus driver to give directions about getting on and off the bus as well as crossing the street. It is their job.
  • Do not approach the bus while it is moving. This is for your safety.

There are several laws of the road when driving near school buses to protect the children and you. It is important to follow these rules. Ignoring them is dangerous and accompanied by hefty fines.

  • School buses must stop and open the door to look both ways when crossing train tracks. 
  •  Always give them a wide berth. They have blind spots and take turns very wide.
  • Always stop thirty feet behind or in front of a bus when they stop letting children on and off. A stop sign will pop out on the side of the bus. Both sides of the street must stop. The only time oncoming traffic does not stop is if the road is a highway larger than four lanes or the street is four lanes and divided by a median.
  • Before and after school hours, keep your eyes open for children waiting by the side of the road for buses.