Why You Should Use Uber Abroad

Like many internet based services, Uber has been a game changer. Outside certain airports in the U.S. that have blocked Uber, you no longer have to pay for frequently overpriced and inferior service with a fat cat taxi company. The rules at home also apply to many countries abroad, so here’s why you should use Uber abroad.

Uber is Safer than Taxis in Many Countries

Before we even left for our trip to Mexico in March, several friends told us “Use Uber. It’s the cheapest and safest way to get around.” Uber features GPS navigation, so it’s much less likely someone is going to take you somewhere they aren’t supposed to. There’s an exact record of where you were picked up, where you requested to go, and the route you’re taking. Traditional taxi services generally don’t offer that.

Now some of you might also be thinking, wait a second, isn’t Mexico dangerous? American media frequently covers the dangerous, cartel run areas of Mexico, but the country has a wealth of beautiful areas where violent crime is relatively low. Mexico and the United States are not so dissimilar in that there are certain places you should probably avoid, and many areas that are wonderful. We frequently used Uber during our two week trip in Mexico City and beautiful Spanish colonial towns like Puebla. The service was efficient, inexpensive, with friendly drivers and we always felt safe.

We also had great experiences using Uber during our travels in Bogota, Colombia.

Uber is Cheaper Compared to Taxis

Uber is cheaper than taxis no matter where in the world you are (as long as prices are not surging during peak times). As pricey as taxis are in the United States, they are comically expensive in countries like the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands. Many employees in London are now prohibited from expensing taxis, and have to use Uber if they want to be reimbursed for work trips.

Amsterdam canal with bikes on a bridge and a blue sky

Asides from Mexico, we’ve used Uber in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Germany, Slovakia, Austria and Australia. Uber is global and you can even use it in countries like South Africa. No matter where we’ve gone the service has generally been very good and inexpensive. Another reason you should definitely use Uber abroad.

What about when Uber prices surge during peak times? Depending on the market, Uber prices can surge up to 1.7 times and be the same price as a taxi. Here is a breakdown on Uber costs. Typically, we tip drivers well during off-peak times, and don’t tip if there is a big price surge.

London Piccadilly Circus: Uber Abroad

Get Credit When you Sign Up for Uber!

There’s no fee to download the Uber App on your phone. If you don’t already have the App, don’t go abroad without it. Use this Uber link to sign up for the service and you’ll get a credit! The amount varies depending on current promotions. And here are more reasons to use Uber over taxis:

Uber Cars are Usually Cleaner than Taxis

Taxi companies became complacent. And they still run many large markets like Boston with a dreadful product in many cases. When we used taxis from Logan Airport, the cost was nearly double, for what was sometimes a smelly and unclean car, with rude drivers who were very happy to yell at us if we questioned them taking the long way. Uber is completely different, sometimes we were even picked up in beautiful luxury cars like Lexus,’ Mercedes’ and BMW’s with their basic UberX brand. Generally, Uber cars are cleaner than taxis. Another reason to definitely use Uber abroad.

Uber Drivers Offer Better and Friendlier Service

We’ve stepped into many Uber rides to find bottled water and/or mints in the backseat. We can’t recall ever being offered free bottled water from a taxi driver, no matter the destination or how hot it was outside. We’ve even stepped into an Uber and been offered outlets to charge our phones.

Many Uber drivers do it part time. Some have been recently laid off or are working in another city, away their family. As they have spare time, they’re not just looking to make money, but to have some social interaction as well. This is very different to career taxi drivers who have shuttled people around for years and despite being totally over it, don’t know what else to do with themselves.

Convenience: Why You Should Use Uber Abroad

It’s easier to order Uber compared to a taxi. The GPS knows where you are and all you need to do is enter your destination, and Uber does the rest. With many cab companies, you have to call and give your address and where you are going. There is a greater likelihood of mistakes this way, especially in a foreign country! And often times when you order taxis through a hotel, they are even more expensive because the hotel receives a kickback for a flat rate service.

Because Uber has your credit card details on file, you never need to worry about paying and waiting for a receipt. Ever needed a receipt from a cabbie and his printer is broken? It’s happened. If you’re running late, you can just run out of the car and your receipt is automatically sent to your email. This also means you’re less likely to lose your receipt and not be able to get reimbursed if it’s a business expense.

Addressing Uber Controversy

While some criticize Uber for being too cheap during off peak times, and therefore undercutting labor, there is a solution. Just tip the drivers well when there isn’t a price surge! This way you still get a cheaper ride, with better service, and it’s also worth your driver’s time. Everyone wins in that scenario.

As far as safety concerns, Uber drivers generally drive safe. If they don’t drive safely, efficiently and with courtesy, they lose points on their reviews. If Uber drivers are consistently rated poorly, they will be terminated from driving. We’ve had several cabbies that should have been terminated from their jobs a long time ago and our ability to review their poor service was not as easy as it is with Uber.

Uber occasionally receives bad press for crime, but crime happens in licensed taxis too. Anytime you have a large service, there will occasionally be some problems from time to time. If a drivers reviews aren’t above say, 4.5, you can cancel the ride and try again.

Download Other Rideshare Apps like Lyft in the US and Country Specific Ones Elsewhere

We’ve used Lyft in the United States but because they have fewer drivers, the service is more limited at home and especially abroad. Lyft was not an option during our trip to Central Mexico because they don’t serve that market. There is a Spanish based company that services Mexico called Cabify, and we downloaded their app for our trip. But we found their cars to be not as prevalent compared to Uber so we didn’t use it.

Safety is the biggest reason you should definitely use Uber abroad. Here’s some additional tips to stay safe using Uber.



  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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2 thoughts on “Why You Should Use Uber Abroad

  1. Beyond being a convenience, taxi apps offer greater safety when traveling as you suggest. Your post is a good reminder of how global Uber has become. Their expansion into so many popular destinations means that the often-repeated advice about not hailing a taxi in the street can be overcome with an app.

    One piece of advice: make sure your app is configured to use a credit card that doesn’t charge a currency conversion fee to save more money. The fares are in the local currency from my experience. If you don’t like Uber there are alternatives in many countries that work the same way. I used the Grab app on a recent trip to Southeast Asia including Ho Chi Mihn City, Vietnam and Singapore. It doesn’t even require a credit card – you can pay a fixed fare in cash if you choose. It’s a good idea to do a bit of travel research to find out which taxi app to download before you depart so you are ready to go.

    -Scott, VacationCounts – How to Take More Time Off

    1. Thanks for the great comment, Scott!

      Yes, it’s good to know which taxi app services are available in particularly countries. In Mexico, as we mentioned, Lyft was not available, which was unfortunate as we had credits with them that were expiring. In addition to Uber, there is Cabify in Mexico, a Spanish based company. But there weren’t as many Cabify cars on the road in Mexico compared to Uber. Even leaving for that trip to Mexico, from Orlando, we actually regretted using Lyft. It was 5:30am and we ordered Lyft to the airport because of our credit. We waited 15 minutes to have the driver cancel on us, and it was then going to be 20 minutes for the next ride at that location and hour. As there were less Lyft drivers on the road, we then just ordered an Uber and fortunately made our flight to Mexico.

      The Grab App in SE Asia sounds like a really cool concept. Great to combine the new technology of phone apps & GPS with the old system of just paying in cash. As credit cards aren’t as prevalent there, that’s handy for locals, and maybe some tourists who are hesitant to pass along credit card details to companies they aren’t so familiar with.

      Cheers and happy travels, Scott!

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