My Simple Tips on How to Use Uber When You Travel Abroad
Are you as tired as I am about spending far too much on transportation when you travel? Have you ever tried Uber? Do you know how to use Uber when you travel abroad? You can always take a taxi or a shuttle, but why not try Uber? Taking a cab from Tocumen International Airport to Panama City is probably somewhere around $30-$35. I’m always looking for less expensive way to get to my hotel. That’s why I decided to try Uber on my recent trip to Panama. Follow these simple tips on how to use Uber when you travel to Panama or anywhere Uber is found abroad or even at home.
Get the Uber app: If you’re not already an Uber customer, download the app and set up your profile before traveling. You’ll need to add a form of payment, too, which is best to do before you’re standing in an airport abroad waiting for a ride.
Connect to the internet via WiFi at the airport if you can to save on international roaming charges. You need to be able to connect to the internet to be able to use the Uber app. I was able to use Wifi after I passed through Immigration at Tocumen International Airport, but the connection was somewhat spotty. Eventually, I ended up turning my phone off airplane mode and just sucked it up as far as the extra cost. I don’t recommend this as it kind of negates the purpose of trying to save money by using Uber.
Choose your ride. Depending on where you’ve traveled to in the world, you’ll have various options for Uber when you travel abroad including UberX (the cheapest Uber option), UberXL (for more passengers), Uber Taxi, Black Car (think limo service), and so on. I chose the most affordable option of UberX to get to my hotel.
Set your destination in the app. I entered the name of my hotel and the app was able to determine that my location was at the airport, but it’s best to always double check to make sure that your location is accurate.
You’ll receive information about your Uber driver in the app. You’ll see a picture of your driver, his or her name, the type of car, and the license plate number under the pic, which I removed here for privacy reasons. You can actually watch your Uber driver’s progress on his/her way to pick you up.
Be specific about your pickup location. Getting picked up somewhere as large as an airport can be difficult, but the Uber app provides specific instructions and allows you to choose where you’ll want to meet your driver.
We chose aisle 5 in the parking lot of Tocumen International Airport as our meeting place and walked directly to that location.
You don’t need to leave your data on to use Uber. Set your location inside at the airport using the free WiFi, go to the agreed upon location, and that’s all you have to do. Once your set up your ride with Uber, there’s nothing else to do. I didn’t know that at the time, but I do now. You’ll see once I arrive at the hotel the reason why this is. When you’re learning how to use Uber when travelling, it may seem overly complicated, but I promise, it’s not.
I finally noticed that my Uber was at the airport, but my Uber driver and I had some difficulty locating each other. I could see he was nearby, but I wasn’t sure where he was exactly.
Check your texts and messages. Luckily, he messaged me through Whatsapp and we were able to coordinate the exact spot to meet after that. In this particular case it was good that I left my phone on. Had I my phone stayed off, I would never have gotten his message.
Provide and ask for specific information. If you also have difficulty locating your driver, provide him/her with your specific details. This can include what you’re wearing, what color your bag is, etc. You should ask for their information, such as what color they’re driving. Providing details will help you locate each other faster. Plus you’ll be able to spot the vehicle in a busy area by its color alone.
Finally, we located our Uber driver who helped us get the bags in his car. Within minutes we were on our way to our hotel.
Wait until your driver exits the car to get out if have a bag in the trunk. If you read nothing else in this post, read this. —-> Whether you use Uber when you travel abroad or take a taxi or shuttle, don’t get out of the vehicle until the driver does at your destination. Who wants to spend any time at a police station explaining that the driver pulled away with your bag while traveling?
Loved this sign we spotted as we left the airport. It reads, “Welcome to Panamá – a country of cheerful, noble, and hardworking people.”
You can leave the app open or closed — it’s up to you. Leaving the Uber app open allowed me to watch my trip progress. But if you’re traveling abroad and aren’t connected to WiFi, remember that it’s going to cost you to do that. The idea of Uber international travel shouldn’t be so scary as it’s a great way to get from point A to B.
Your receipt arrives in the Uber app after your trip. In about a half hour, we arrived at our hotel. Rodrigo helped get our bags out of our car and we were on our way. My trip was $12.65 because I had a $15 off your ride coupon with Uber. Not bad, right? There really wasn’t a need for me to leave my data on after all. When the ride is over, you don’t need to do anything in the app.
Tip your Uber driver. This is one of those areas where people definitely have a difference of opinion. As for me, I’m a firm believer in tipping. As Uber rates drop, drivers are getting paid less. A tip is the least you can do for good service.
Rate your Uber driver. You’ll get a push notification to rate your driver after your ride. If you miss that, don’t worry as you when you get your receipt, you’ll also have a chance to rate your driver and leave a comment. Poorly rated drivers won’t last long as Uber takes feedback from passengers seriously.
Check the Uber app before you’re ready to leave to set up your ride back to the airport After a few wonderful days in Panama City, it was time to return to the airport. I checked the app about an hour and then a half hour before I was ready to leave the hotel. I noticed that there were several Uber drivers in the area with a short wait time for pick up. Unlike taxis where I might call one before I leave my hotel room, I didn’t have to do this with Uber. Our driver, Nicolas, was 3 minutes away when I arranged my ride while in the lobby after checking out of the hotel.
We hit a little more traffic going to the airport than we did coming from the airport. This made the ride was slightly more expensive, but still far more affordable than taking a taxi.
Overall, my experience with using Uber was better than I could’ve expected. The drivers were polite and professional, their cars were clean, and I arrived at my destinations in a timely manner. I absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to use Uber again or recommend it to anyone. In fact, if you’d like a free ride, use my invite code, mariank250ue, and get a free ride up to $20 by redeeming your code here.
More posts to come on my time in Panama City. But for now, think you might use Uber when you travel abroad next time? Do you have any tips for using Uber?