Navigating Dental Tourism: Exploring the Safety of Ubers and Taxis in Latin America 

February 12, 2024

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When it comes to transportation options in Mexico and Latin America, both Ubers and traditional taxis can provide a relatively safe means of getting around. However, it's crucial to consider various factors, such as the city or region you're in, the time of day, and local considerations, to ensure your safety. In this blog post, we'll share recommendations and general guidelines to help you have the best experience while navigating transportation options during your medical trip.

Uber in Latin America: A Convenient and Safe Choice

Uber made its entry into Latin America in 2013, starting with Mexico City. Since then, it has expanded its services across multiple countries in the region, offering a convenient transportation option for many people. Currently, Uber is active in most Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay, among others. To stay up-to-date on active countries and cities, refer to Uber's official site here.  

Advantages of ride-sharing with Uber

One of the advantages of using Uber is the digital platform it provides, offering features like GPS tracking, driver identification, and the ability to share ride details with others. These features enhance safety and provide a sense of security. Additionally, since most international visitors are already familiar with Uber's platform, getting around in Latin America should feel more natural.

To ensure your safety while using Uber or any other ride-hailing app, follow these recommendations:

  • Verify the driver and vehicle: Before entering the car, confirm that the driver and vehicle match the information provided in the app. Check the driver's name, photo, and license plate number.
  • Share trip details: Inform a friend or family member about your trip, including the driver's information, vehicle details, and estimated time of arrival. Many ride-hailing apps offer real-time trip-sharing features.
  • Wait in a safe location: Choose a well-lit and populated area when requesting a ride. Avoid waiting alone in isolated or dimly lit locations, especially at night.
  • Check ratings and reviews: Utilize Uber's rating system to select drivers with higher ratings and positive reviews, ensuring an added level of confidence.
  • Confirm your ride: Instead of volunteering your name, ask the driver, "Who are you here for?" ("¿Por quién vienes?" in Spanish) to confirm their identity. The driver should provide your name without you having to disclose it first.
  • Sit in the back seat: Opt to sit in the back seat of the vehicle to maintain personal space and an additional safety barrier between you and the driver.
  • Follow the trip on your phone: Use the GPS tracking feature within the ride-hailing app to monitor the route and progress of your trip, ensuring the driver is taking the correct route to your destination.
  • Trust your instincts: If you ever feel uncomfortable during the ride, trust your instincts. Ask the driver to stop in a safe, well-populated area and end the ride if necessary. In case of threats, contact emergency services.
  • Use in-app support: If you encounter any issues or have concerns during your Uber ride, utilize the in-app support feature to address your queries or complaints.
  • Rate and provide feedback: After your trip, take a moment to rate your driver and provide feedback, contributing to improving the overall service and maintaining accountability.

Taxis in Latin America: A Reliable and Safe Alternative

Traditional taxis can also be a safe choice in Latin America, especially if they are registered and authorized by local authorities. Look for official taxi stands or reputable taxi companies, which can be found in larger cities, including radio taxis or pre-arranged taxi services through hotels or trusted establishments.

To ensure your safety while using taxis or any other transportation service in Latin America, consider the following precautions:

  • Share your trip details: Inform a friend or family member about your ride, including the driver's name, vehicle/taxi information, and the estimated time of arrival.
  • Stay vigilant: Be aware of your surroundings while in the car and trust your instincts. If something feels off, consider ending the ride or contacting local authorities.
  • Use well-lit and populated areas: Request rides or hail taxis in well-populated areas with good lighting, particularly at night.
  • Keep emergency contacts handy: Save emergency numbers, such as local police or the embassy, on your phone for any emergencies that may arise.

It's also important to stay informed about the local safety situation in the specific areas you plan to visit. Check travel advisories, consult with locals or fellow travelers, and follow any recommended safety guidelines.  

Other Ride-hailing Apps in Latin America

In certain Latin American countries, there are alternative ride-hailing apps that compete with Uber, including DiDi and Cabify. It is advisable to consult someone knowledgeable about the city to determine the safest and most popular app to use in a specific location.  We recommend applying the same guidelines and precautions as you would for Uber and traditional taxis. Additionally, it is important to familiarize yourself with the specific security filters and policies implemented by the app you choose to use.

What about Airports?

Choosing between Uber and taxis at airports in Latin America depends on various factors, including personal preferences, the specific country and city you're visiting, and the circumstances of your trip. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:

  • Cost: Uber is often more cost-effective than traditional taxis in many parts of the world. However, compare the estimated prices of Uber and taxis in your destination to determine which option fits your budget.
  • Convenience: Uber offers the convenience of easily requesting a ride through a mobile app, which is particularly useful if you're unfamiliar with the local language or prefer cashless transactions. Taxis, on the other hand, are readily available at airports and typically have designated taxi ranks, making them easily accessible as well.
  • Availability: Even though Uber is available in 700+ airports, is important to confirm that they are currently operating in your destination. You can find an up-to-date list of active airports at Uber's official site here.
  • Local Regulations: Certain cities or countries in Latin America have specific regulations or legal restrictions on ride-sharing services like Uber. In such cases, taking a taxi might be the only legal option, or Uber services may have limited availability. To avoid any confusion, ask someone familiar with the city in advance or use trusted partners and companies like Globalcare, who can help answer your questions in advance and during your trip

It is not uncommon for Uber Drivers in some airports in Latin America to ask you to sit in the front seat. This is mainly due to local restrictions on ride-sharing services. If you do not feel comfortable with this, we recommend using an approved taxi directly from the airport.

Cancun: We recommend private transportation.

Despite its initial introduction in June 2016, Uber has faced ongoing hurdles with local taxi unions in Quintana Roo, resulting in disruptions to its service. To avoid any inconvenience, it is highly advisable to arrange your transportation in advance. Fortunately, there are several reliable alternatives to choose from, including private transportation, shared shuttle services, or even renting a car.  

However, if you're traveling to Cancun for a medical or dental procedure, we strongly recommend partnering with trusted companies that can assist you throughout your journey. At Globalcare, we have garnered a stellar reputation for our exceptional customer satisfaction. What sets us apart is our commitment to providing free ground private transportation to and from Cancun's airport, as well as in other cities where we operate. By opting for Globalcare, not only can you ensure a seamless commuting experience across Latin America, but you can also rest assured that you'll receive top-notch care from our pre-vetted network of high-quality dentists. To learn more about Globalcare and our services, visit today.

To sum it up, while using these precautions can help mitigate risks, no transportation option can guarantee absolute safety. It's crucial to exercise caution and make informed decisions when choosing your mode of transport. By following these recommendations and guidelines, you'll have a more secure and enjoyable experience during your medical trip to Latin America.

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