Do You Know How To Use Uber When You Travel Abroad?

My Simple Tips on How to Use Uber When You Travel Abroad

Uber when you travel abroadAre 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.

Uber when you travel abroad
Uber app in the iTunes store

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.

Uber when you travel abroad
Waiting for our Uber driver

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.

Uber when you travel abroad
Tocumen International Airport

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.

Uber when you travel abroad
In front of Tocumen International Airport while we wait for our Uber

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.

use Uber when you travel abroad
Uber app showing where we were and that our Uber driver was close by

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.

Uber when you travel abroad
My Uber driver and I communicated through WhatsApp

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.

Uber when you travel abroad
Inside our Uber driver’s car

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?

Uber when you travel abroad
Leaving the airport

Loved this sign we spotted as we left the airport.  It reads, “Welcome to Panamá – a country of cheerful, noble, and hardworking people.”

Uber when you travel abroad
Riding along with the Uber app open

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.

Uber when you travel abroad
Receipt for my Uber ride to my hotel

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.

Uber when you travel abroad
My Uber ride back to the airport

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.

Uber when you travel abroad
My Uber ride back to the airport
Uber when you travel abroad
Receipt for my Uber ride back to the airport

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?

52 thoughts on “Do You Know How To Use Uber When You Travel Abroad?

  1. My question is whether Uber charges in dollars or in foreign currency when traveling abroad. Thanks.

  2. I am in USA I am. uK citizen with U.K. Phone I did not download u EE app in U.K. And am having problem loading app while I am in Houston need to use über what should I do?

    1. Ronald so sorry for the late reply but I was out of the country myself. I don’t think there’s a way to use Uber without the app. Definitely make sure you connect to wifi and download it although I probably would’ve suggested downloading it before your trip. Hope all worked out well for you. Marian

  3. Hi,

    I’ve only used Uber once and that was domestically so texting was not a problem. However, using Uber abroad would use international data. I have whatsapp I’m my phone, so I was wondering how you got the driver to use whats app rather than a regular SMS. Is that an option on the Uber app?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      No it wasn’t an option, but I figured I use it to chat with friends outside of the country so why not give it a go. With fingers crossed I used it and luckily, he responded. Marian

  4. Hi,

    I have just arrived from a different country, I do not have a US simcard. I want to call an Uber but I cannot sign in as I do not have a US number. Is there any other way?

    Dhiraj.

  5. Hi, I’m currently in US from malaysia and was going to use Uber as my main transportation while i’m here. Really glad that i found this coz i don’t know can i use Uber since i’d be relying on wifi and not roaming, so most of the time i wont have any connection during the ride.

    Just to verify, once i got in the car and then lost connection it should be fine, right? What if my destination don’t have wifi? Let me know if you could. It would be much help. Thank you.

    1. Sharizan,
      You should be ok because when you arrange for the ride, that’s the most important step. You’ll have your payment in the app and then the app selects the driver for your destination. Just be sure to check when you do have wifi to make sure all charges were correct. Good luck and enjoy your trip!

  6. Thanks for a great blog! My daughter & I are traveling to France, Italy and Spain. I use uber a lot here at home in California and I’m so happy to know that I can also use it in Europe!!!! That should make our trip so much easier. My only question is: Do I have to do anything different on the uber app on my phone to go to Europe or is it the same thing? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Char!

      Lucky you headed off to Europe! Just connect to wifi and you should be good to go without any issues. Since I don’t turn on data while traveling to save money, I usually stand in the lobby of a hotel, Starbucks, or somewhere else, organize my ride, wait, and then step outside when I see the car. Then when I reconnect to wifi, I can check my receipt and add a tip, if appropriate. Enjoy your trip and thank you so much for the kind words about the blog. Marian

      1. so you don’t need the destination country’s SIM card? Even if you have your local SIM card (the number you had registered with UBER in your country), should work abroad as long as you use Wifi (free).

  7. I have a US cell phone and US credit card and have found that the Uber rates in Mexico are a lot higher for me than they are for my Mexican friends. How do I correct that to get the same rate as my Mexican friends?

    1. Harvey,
      Interesting question. I’m sure Uber might say that the rates are the same for everyone, but I think you’ve proven that they’re not. You could get a sim card and switch when you arrive and see if that gets you the local rate. Let me know if you do and if it works. Marian

  8. In my country, my payment method to Uber driver is by way of cash. If i go overseas how do I make payment to Uber driver? Cash with local currency?

    1. Hi Joy – it definitely depends then on where you travel. I have had to link a credit/debit card to my account for payment. I would try to do that before you travel so you don’t have to figure it out on the go. Hope that helps! Marian

  9. Hi, In your example in Panama that cost you 12.65, how much tip did you give? This have to be in cash? What if the driver does not have loose change? Thanks.

    1. Hi Dennis,

      I usually carry $1s with me so I believe I tipped in cash a few dollars – maybe $2? If I tip on the app, then it’s usually at least 10%, more if they’re really good. But if you can tip in cash, it’s always easier for the driver and for you. But don’t let it be a burden for yourself. Try to get change before you get in the Uber, either at the airport, your hotel, a restaurant, etc. Enjoy your trip! Marian

  10. Hi, I live in pakistan and plan to visit USA shortly. I wanted to know that can I use the same uber app in US, which I have been using in pakistan?
    Is it necessary for me to buy a local sim in US to have uber workin there?

    1. Hi Immar,

      I usually just try to connect to local WiFi to avoid the whole thing with getting a sim card. I’ve not had to change my app so you can use the same app and just connect to the airport’s WiFi while waiting in baggage claim. Hope that helps! Marian

  11. Hi happened to travel to Malaysia from India and decided to take the uber ride from the airport.
    The problem I faced was that I took a local sim at the airport since I had left my India sim back in office.
    Even tho I had the app on my phone and was easy to book the cab. The driver landed up calling my India number.
    Is there someway to change the setting of the number currently being used

  12. Hi Marian

    Very interesting article. Congratulations. Never used uberbefore. Will travel to Europe soon. So I am going to try it this time. Cheers. Have a nice day.

    Jacques

  13. Hello! What about foreign transaction fees? If I use Uber in Japan, for example, and I pay using the US credit card I have on file, is it safe to assume the card company will also charge me a foreign transaction fee? I know some cards don’t get these and some do, but since it’s a purchase overseas will the fee apply?

    Thanks!

  14. Thanks for the tips, hoping to use Uber in NYC later this month and your insight was really interesting.

  15. I am in Costa Rica with wifi and downloaded the app but it wants to send me an SMS text code …. I am not using cellular data so I do I initialize the app?

    1. Linda,

      Sorry I couldn’t answer sooner as I’ve been traveling myself. This is the one downside of not getting a wifi connection. An alternative is to be a sim card at the airport for data, but by now you’ve probably figured this out. AGain – sorry! 🙁 Marian

  16. Thank you very much for this clear explanation of using Uber when traveling, along with handy hints. I haven’t used Uber before and this information gives me much more confidence in using it. I’m traveling from NZ to USA, thanks again Travel Shop Girl.

    1. Megan,

      Thanks so much! You made my day as that’s all I’ve tried to do with this site is make travel more fun and easy for anyone interested. Have fun in the USA! Marian

  17. We are considering flying through PTY to Punta Cana. The flight requires an overnight layover. We are a little nervous as we have never been to Panama City before. We would probably take Uber to the Marriott Courtyard Panama at MetroMall. We arrive at 8 pm and fly out the next morning at 930 am. My questions would be: 1) Uber ease of use and safety (or use Taxi)? 2) Do we go through Customs when we land in Panama and then again in Punta Cana? 3) How long should we show up ahead of time for our flight? 4) Should we have any safety concerns in general?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Mike,

      I found Panama City to be extremely safe and had no concerns taking an Uber while there. I always prefer using Uber as I know in advance the actual cost instead of some inflated fare that a random cab driver can throw at me.

      As for your questions — if you leave the airport, yes you’ll go through immigration and customs in both countries, but that’s typical. Whenever flying from one country to another, always allow no less than two hours, but to be on the safe side, I would arrive even earlier.

      As always, just don’t wear a lot of expensive jewelry or flash your cash when out and about. Other than that, just use common sense and have a great time. Enjoy your trip! Marian

  18. Thanks for your efforts here. We are travelling from Australia to Eastern Europe and look forward to Uber travel. Like you say just need to make sure the right credit card (maybe 28 degrees MasterCard) is attached to account.

    1. Ross,

      The biggest thing is to make sure you have any valid card attached, be it a debit or credit card as you’ll want your payment to go through. Good luck and have fun! Marian

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