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A Traveler’s Guide to Uber

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This Travel Tip Tuesday I am giving you all the information you need on the ins and outs of Uber. I’ve taken Uber a lot this year since my husband and I have been sharing a car, and sometimes it’s just the most economical option. If you’ve never taken it before, or even if you have, here’s the run-down on how it works and some tips to make your ride great!

Why Uber?

Why take Uber? Here are a few of my favorite reasons:

  • You know what the fare is before you confirm your ride request. No worrying he’ll take the long way, no wondering if you have enough cash.
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Choose your ride!
  • Payment is electronic. Some people don’t like putting their credit card info in an app, but this is the 21st century and that’s how things work. You won’t be wasting any time paying for your ride when you arrive at your destination, since it’s all done electronically for you in the app! Once in Philadelphia, a cab driver started yelling at me because I wanted to pay with a credit card instead of cash, which was terrifying because it’s was still dark out and I needed to make an early train. I knew cabbies in Philly are required to take a credit card (he just didn’t want to report the fare for tax purposes), but it was just not worth arguing with him. I have never felt like that with Uber.
  • Friendly drivers. Uber drivers are inviting random people into their cars. In general, only friendly, possibly chatty people will do that. Cab drivers are not all jerks, but I’ve been in the car with some that made me pretty uncomfortable. I have not had an Uber trip that made me uncomfortable.
  • Drivers and riders have ratings. You can see your driver’s rating before they arrive. When you know your driver has 4.6 out of 5 stars, you can feel good about having a good ride. Got one with 1.2 stars? You can cancel before he or she arrives and you won’t be charged. Just remember they can review you, too!
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4.5 out of 5 stars. Not bad!
  • You’ll take a pre-determined route. Uber tracks their drivers, and they have to take a pre-determined route to your destination. This ensures they will take you directly to your destination, and it will be the shortest route.
  • Tolls and fees are included. Tolls are a pain, and so are parking fees at airports and other possible pick-up points. Any of those possible fees are included in the price that you see up front, not after and not on the ride. In a place like D.C. where tolls are common, it’s nice not to be surprised.
  • Knowing when your ride is coming. I’ve been stuck on a street corner in a not-so-great area waiting for an open taxi to come along, and it’s unsettling, especially for a woman traveling alone. With Uber, I know how long I’ll have to wait (usually only a few minutes), and I can track my ride while they are on the way to me.
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Only three minutes away!

Tips: What Uber Drivers are Saying

I have spoken with several Uber drivers in researching this post, and they gave me some great information! Here is what actual Uber drivers are saying:

What do you like best about driving for Uber?

  • The flexibility. I can do it full- or part-time, and I can do it on my time instead of being on someone else’s schedule.
  • The interesting people I drive.
  • I get to keep going all the time–I never get bored!

What do you wish riders knew?

  • How to be in the right pick up spot. Before they confirm their ride request, you can move the blue pin to their exact location if the GPS on their phone is a little bit off, or if they want to be picked up at a nearby location instead of exactly where they are. Some people don’t stay put or don’t make sure their location is accurate, and that makes things confusing and takes longer.
  • To be there when you say you will be. There’s really no reason to not be ready. You get a text telling you when I’ll be there to pick you up, you confirmed you’d be there waiting for me when you confirmed your ride, and you get a text telling you I’m arriving as I pull up. I’ll wait for you for a couple of minutes, but after that, you’ll be charged the full amount and I’ll be on to my next ride.
  • Please don’t put an overly drunk person in an Uber vehicle. I understand you don’t want someone to drive when they shouldn’t drive, however, if you put them in my car and they throw up, whoever requested the ride via the app will also be responsible for a thorough detailing of the driver’s car. That can cost anywhere from $20 to $150 or more. Plus, I can’t be driving anyone else around until that’s cleaned up completely.

What are some annoying things you wish riders wouldn’t do?

  • I wish people wouldn’t leave trash in the car. I’m not your mom, and I’m not your cleaning person. If you eat a candy bar in my car, that’s fine, but if you leave a wrapper in my car, I get irritated with that.
  • People sometimes leave their keys, cell phone, wallet, or other valuable in the car. I want you to have your stuff, but it easier for everyone if you keep track of your stuff in the first place!
  • I don’t mind if people sit in the front seat, but for me, it’s awkward if you sit in the front and don’t talk to me.

What can you tell me about Uber Surge pricing?

  • It’s all based on supply and demand. When the demand is higher than usual, the prices goes up 2, 3, or even up to 6 times.
  • However, drivers get a notification on their app when prices are surging, so drivers know they can definitely pick up some rides and make some money. When the supply starts to meet the demand, prices will go back to normal and stop “surging.”
  • Surge pricing can last 5-10 minutes, but on nights like New Year’s Eve or after a big event, I’ve seen surges last an hour or two.

How to “Call” an Uber

So, you don’t really call an Uber like you would call a taxi service. You download the app to your smartphone and use it to request an Uber. Here’s how:

Step 1: Open the App
You will see the little white cars around your current location, and there will be a white box at the top that asks, “Where to?”

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You can see where the nearby Uber Cars are located
Step 2: Search for Your Destination
In the “Where to?” box, type in where you want to go. You can put in the physical address, but let’s face it, I don’t walk around with every address in the world memorized. So, unless you’re going to someone’s home or to some place that’s not searchable, you can type in the name of a restaurant, attraction, airport, train station, etc. Tap on it when the location you want pops up.

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3. Choose the Service You Want and Tap “Confirm”
Choices will likely be uberPOOL, uberX, or BLACK CAR. UberPOOL is typically the least expensive, but your driver might pick someone else up on the way to your destination, or he might have to drop someone off who is already in the car when he picks you up. This might slow you down, but if you’re not in a hurry, it’s the most economical option. UberX is for when you want your own ride and don’t want to be slowed down with possible sharing. BLACK CAR is the swankiest option; someone in a nice black-on-black car will come and pick you up to deliver you to your desired destination. I guess you’re supposed to feel fancy. We always go with UberPOOL because it’s the least expensive and we are never on that tight a schedule. Only once have we ridden with someone in addition to ourselves.

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Know your options!
4. You Will Receive a Text about Your Ride
You’ll receive a text with the driver’s name, picture, license plate number, and car model to ensure you get into the correct car. This text will also give you the estimated time until he or she arrives.

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You will receive a tex and see the route your Uber is taking to pick you up.
5. You Will Receive a Text When Your Driver Arrives
This text will tell you that your ride has arrived, so look for them! This text will also inform you that your ride will wait for you two minutes before moving on. Keep in mind you will be charged if you don’t show up!

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Be ready for your driver to pick you up!

6. Your Receipt Will be E-mailed
Need a receipt for a work expense report or for your own records? That will be e-mailed to you. No need to wait for a receipt!

7. You Did It!
Congratulations! You just took your first ride with Uber. Wasn’t that easy? No guessing what the price will be or worrying that the driver will take you the long way to your destination.

Ready to try Uber? Use this code for $20 off your first ride! whitneyo116ue

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