Airport TransferDepending on where you are traveling there most likely will be different options to get from the airport to your hotel. A few minutes of research before your trip can help you to get the best choice for you without overpaying, putting yourself at risk or just being stuck in traffic since you chose wrong.

At many airports you might find people soliciting you inside the terminal. Often these solicitors look and sound official but are usually not licenses and your fare is most likely going to be the most expensive option. Knowing how much a cab fare or other other transfer options to downtown costs ahead of time gives you the upper hand.

Most airports have the following transfer options:

Very Safe
Some hotels offer free transfers
Sometimes longer wait because of infrequent schedule or because you have to call on arrival to request transfer
If the hotel doesn't offer free transfers this option is usually more more expensive then other transport options

Usually flexible and widely available
Safe if choosing a legitimate company
More expensive
Can be slower than public transportation in some areas depending on time of the day

Usually the cheapest option
Environmentally friendly
Sometimes faster then other transportation during rush hour
Inconvenient with big bags
Inconvenient if hotel isn't close to public transportation
Might encounter pickpockets or other Safety concerns in some areas

For bigger groups it might be cheaper than a taxi
Convenient if you having somebody wait for you
Safe
More expensive for individuals or small groups

Less cumbersome than public transportation since it is door to door service
Safe
Usually cheaper then a taxi and a good option for solo travelers
Might take longer to get to your hotel if other passengers will be dropped of before you

Additional things to consider

What time are you arriving?

Not all airports are operate 24/7. This means public transportation might be shutting down as well. If your flight arrives late you might not have the same transfer options you would have during the day. If you are traveling alone you might be better off arranging some pick-up for safety reasons.

How many people are traveling with you?

If you are traveling with a group of 2 or three you might be able to share the cost of the taxi making it cheaper or at least the same cost compared to taking public transportation or a share van.

How much luggage do you have?

If you have lots of luggage public transportation can be cumbersome especially if you have to change buses/trains during rush hour.

How far is the airport from the city

Airports can sometimes be quite far from your hotel making Taxis an expensive choice. In some places public transportation might actually be a better choice because roads are congested and you'd be stuck in traffic when taking a cab.

What's your budget?

Public transportation is usually your cheapest option (short of a free transfer your hotel might offer). Taxis are usually the most expensive choice.

General Tips

Print Directions
Always go on google maps and print the directions to your hotel before you leave. Don't expect the cab driver to know the location of your hotel. It happened several times to me where the cab driver wasn't able to find the Hotel having to stop multiple times asking for direction or having to call the hotel for directions (the fare was negotiated ahead of time so he didn't try to take more money but really didn't know!). You would think in times of GPS this isn't a problem but unfortunately it still happens.
Take a photo of the license plate
If you are arriving late or alone take a photo of the taxi/license plate and send it to somebody before getting into the cab (or just pretend you are sending it to somebody if you don't have reception). This might be enough to keep the driver honest. In China it worked well for me to take a photo of the cab drivers license which is usually displayed inside if one is trying to take you the long route.
Enough Cash for the Transport
Make sure you have enough cash in the right currency on arrival to pay for your transportation. If you arrive late exchange offices at the airport might be closed or the ATM isn't working.

A great place to find information about airport transportation, approximate cost, common scams for a particular airport are TripAdvisor and Wikivoyage.

Comments (15)

  • Sarah Smith's picture

    I'm going to be traveling and am trying to find a service to take me to the airport. I love the idea of taking a photo of the licence plate or licence and sending it to someone to keep the driver honest. Thanks for your advice, now I just have to find transportation to the airport.

    May 16, 2016
  • Bob Lowe's picture

    Thanks for the post. This is really helpful information. I really like the idea to arrange for airport transportation. I really like that airports have many options to pick from. I think a hotel transfer would be a great way to get from the airport to your hotel.

    Jun 07, 2016
  • Kendall Everett's picture

    I loved your tip to print the directions before you get in the cab. Like you said, it's possible they may not know where your destination is so having directions would be helpful. Having the number for the destination would also be helpful just in case.

    Jul 07, 2016
  • Dennis Sanchez's picture

    I have been wanting to take a vacation for a while, and want to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. You mentioned that you should consider luggage when you consider your airport transfer service. I'll have a bit of luggage, since I plan on taking a rather long vacation, so I'll plan on finding a service that provides a lot of trunk space. Thanks for the advice.

    Nov 15, 2016
  • Stefan's picture

    Hi Dennis, if you have multiple pieces of luggage a private transport (e. g. taxi) would probably more convenient since you will usually be dropped of directly at your final location. If you are taking a bus you are less likely to have it stop in front of your hotel so you might have to take a taxi after all from the bus stop. From a space perspective I don't think you'll have to worry too much about bringing 2 big suitcases (even though some taxis have a small trunk if you don't share the taxi with multiple people the taxi driver usually just puts your additional suitcases in the back/front seat. If you arrange some shared shuttle, just let them know in advance if you have more than 1 suite case). Enjoy your trip and let us know if you have any other questions!

    Nov 17, 2016
  • Georgia B's picture

    Thanks for listing out all the different options for getting to the airport and their pros and cons! This was really helpful to me as our family gets ready to go on a trip. I'm thinking we might go with a limousine service since we have a pretty large group going and you mention that in that situation it might be cheaper than a taxi.

    Nov 30, 2016
  • olivia nelson's picture

    I agree that you would want to consider a budget when you are looking for airport transport services. I would imagine that considering the type of service and the distance would allow you to find something to fit your budget. I need an airport service to help me get to my hotel so I'll be sure to check my budget before I decide on a mode of transportation.

    Dec 12, 2016
  • Deedee Lewis's picture

    I will admit that I am a nervous traveler so these tips on airport transfer are good for me. For some reason it hadn't crossed my mind that some airports don't operate 24/7, I always assumed that all airports stay operating throughout the night. But it makes sense that some airports would be closed down, most likely the smaller airports. It would not be fun to be stranded in an airport that won't be operating 24/7. I would add to make sure you are dressed comfortably when traveling and to take extra warm clothing items with you if you are traveling during the winter months.

    Dec 22, 2016
  • Marie Watson's picture

    You make a good point about how important it is to think about your budget. It makes sense that you would want to make sure you are choosing a transport service that fits your price range. I am traveling soon, so I will have to remember these tips when looking for an airport transportation service.

    Jan 09, 2017
  • Raisa Delima's picture

    I'm really glad I read the section in this article about remembering to consider how much luggage you have during transport. Not only would this be burdensome on buses or trains, like you said, it also means you need to check to make sure the transport service you use has sufficient space for your gear. We are planning to take a trip to St. Lucia, soon, and I think we'll need to transfer to a different airport. My wife has 3 bags, so we'll have to make sure the transport could hold all of our stuff.

    Feb 06, 2017
  • olivia nelson's picture

    I agree that you need to consider your budget when looking for an airport car service. I would imagine that knowing how much you can spend on the trip would help you budget your transportation costs. My husband is going out of town so he'll have to find out how much he can spend on a transportation service.

    Mar 03, 2017
  • Troy Blackburn's picture

    That's a great point you make about how a little bit of research beforehand can end up saving you lots of money when it comes to travel options. I've heard that another great tip, too, is to look up potential companies on Google and to read the reviews, both positive and negative, of previous customers to see what kind of experiences they've had. I'll be sure to remember this great information as we begin planning our family trip for this summer.

    Apr 03, 2017
  • Lillian Schaeffer's picture

    I like how you mentioned that a group of two or three could split the cost of a taxi. I'm going on a trip with my two brothers, and we're trying to figure out the best option for us to get from the airport to our hotel. Since there are a few of us that can split the cost, maybe a taxi would be a good option.

    Apr 06, 2017
  • Jalu Sakti's picture

    That's a great tip to make sure you are aware of how the transportation you are taking could handle the amount of baggage you have. I think I would opt for an airport car service if I had luggage because you wouldn't have to worry about how to get it to the hotel from the airport. You could be certain and have peace of mind that there will be enough space for your bags and that you won't have to fumble around with them in public transportation. Thanks for the tips!

    Sep 17, 2017
  • Katie's picture

    I really liked all your points about considering the time that I'd be arriving at when flying into an airport and needing transportation afterwards. Fortunately, the airports that I have been to have offered taxi services in the middle of the night when I have flown in. However, I do think that it's important to call ahead and schedule that before arriving just to be sure.

    Sep 27, 2017

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