Man stands outside of airport with suitcase waiting while taxis and cars drive by.
There are many options for getting to and from the airport, but the best option largely depends on which city you're in.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Which Form of Airport Transportation is Best for Your Trip?

Have You Thought About How You’ll Get to Your Hotel?

It’s not something you probably think much about when you’re planning your trip. You diligently research where you want to go, look for the best airfare, spend lots of time looking into accommodation options and so on, but when it comes to airport transportation, this important factor is often overlooked.

Unless you’re planning on renting a car, or spending your vacation at the airport, one of the first decisions you should be making is how to get to your accommodations in the first place. Without researching your transportation options beforehand, you could very well be stuck on a road to nowhere fast.

Of course, airport transportation options can vary dramatically from airport to airport, which means the best option at one destination could be the worst at another.

With all of that in mind, this guide will help you understand  the potential benefits of the various airport transportation options available around the world to help you get started on your own research.

Taxis

Taxis are an option in just about every major city around the world. However, one of the potential issues with taking a taxi from some airports is the possibility that you’ll get ripped off.

Foreign visitors are a common target for local taxi drivers who want to make a quick buck. While nearly every large city has an official tariff and regulated taxi system, you’re likely to be approached by a driver offering a better price, only to find that it’s a lot higher than you bargained for when you reach your destination.

It’s also easy to be overcharged, even with a meter, if it’s been set to the weekend rate on a weekday, or the night rate during the day. In addition, are the drivers who take advantage of worn out travelers – you hand them a $50 bill, and they insist you just gave them 10 bucks.

If you can book your taxi online ahead of time that will at least ensure you’ll pay the real price, as it can’t be changed after the reservation is confirmed.

The benefits of taking a taxi are obvious. You won’t get lost, and it’s one of the fastest — if not the fastest — ways to get to your destination in many cities around the world. Plus, you’ll get door-to-door service without any stops along the way.

If you’re flying into Venice, a taxi is practically a must. At Marco Polo Airport, travelers can take the public water taxi and be in the center of the city in just 15 minutes. You’ll also get an amazing view of classic sights along the way.

Uber, Lyft and Other Rideshare Services

Uber, along with rival Lyft, and a handful of lesser-known rideshare services have been transforming the transportation industry and have created competition with traditional taxi services. While most people are well aware of how they work by now, it’s fairly simple.

You download a free app and create an account with your personal and payment information. Then when you need a ride, you can request one with the touch of a finger. At the end of the ride, there’s no worry about payment, as the app will automatically charge your credit card.

Oftentimes, these services are significantly cheaper than taxis. However, it’s always essential to compare your other options as well, particularly if budget is a key factor. While rideshares are traditionally 15 to 40% cheaper than taxis, that seems to be changing.

Ridesharing services are often the best option, getting you to your destination quickly, without a hitch, and at the lowest price. Of course, while these services are found in many cities throughout the US and other countries around the world, they aren’t available everywhere.

Be sure to do your research in advance of your flight, comparing the fare to what you’d pay for a taxi for the same route before making your decision.

Shuttles

In many airports, there are a variety of shuttle options. Your hotel or other accommodation option might even offer one to get you there for free.

If that’s the case, it will arguably be your best bet — you may have to wait a little while before hopping aboard, but it’s usually no more than 20 to 30 minutes, and often much quicker than that.

When it comes to other, traditional airport shuttles, they make their money by planning multiple stops, picking up and dropping off as many passengers as possible. That makes the travel time significantly longer, but the upside is that they’re often much cheaper than taxis or ridesharing services like Uber.

Although, that’s not always the case — again, compare the options at your destinations to be sure. At London’s Heathrow Airport, for example, the Heathrow Express is pricey, but it will get you to central Paddington Station in only 15 minutes. And you’ll have plenty of legroom, seat power sockets, newspapers and magazines.

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Public Transportation

Depending on where you’re going, you’ll also have a range of public transportation options to choose from, like the bus, train or subway. The particular options, as well as reliability, cost and safety, varies significantly from destination to destination.

In many places, buses are the cheapest way to get around. They’re usually safe and easy to use, and while they may take much longer to get you where you’re going, this isn’t always the case.

Both the up and the downside is that you’ll be sharing your ride with lots of other passengers. This will provide you with the opportunity to interact with locals and get a glimpse at a more authentic side of the city, but it may also open you up to some potentially unwanted encounters.

The bottom line when it comes to public transportation is that you’ll need to do your research. TripAdvisor forums are a great resource.

Consider the time it will take, the cost and the safety factor to help ensure you’ll be making the best decision for your particular destination.

Your Next Step

Now that you know a little more about the airport transportation options you might expect, your next step is to check out the particular airport you’ll be flying into. Determine what options are available and whether there are any concerns specific to the destination you are traveling to.

Soon you’ll be climbing aboard your flight, confident that you have a way to get to your ultimate destination once you disembark.

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