Beginner's Guide to Commuting to and from the Airport
Love it or hate it, most trips demand it, so it's wise to become acquainted with your airport commuting options before your next big trip. We have lots of experience with airport commuting over the entire world and in this blog we're giving you VIP access to our knowledge - just to ensure your next commute to or from the airport occurs without any unexpected turbulence.
The Airport via Public Transport
Public transport is a great option for anyone looking to save money and is particularly accessible to those travelling during the day without large amounts of baggage. Most airports offer at least one form of public transit to and from the airport, which is ideal for anyone who's environmentally focused and interested in reducing their carbon footprint. The abundance of signage typically sprinkled around airports, not to mention the number of staff available to assist with basic information such as route planning and ticket purchase, tends to make commuting from the airport a touch easier than commuting to it, so consider experimenting with this variety of transport upon arrival, particularly if you're unfamiliar with or intimidated by the public transit system at your chosen destination.
I recently travelled to Singapore and, eager to save some money and see how the locals commute, I decided to travel via the country's thriving public transport network. There are a number of buses that service the various terminals at the airport, but as I was staying in the heart of Singapore's pulsating Little India in a hostel located only a few minutes walk from the metro (MRT), I decided to head to the station and travel from Singapore's Changi International Airport by train. The East-West line services the airport and, after a quick change at Tanah Merah station, I was able to reach my stop in about 30-40 minutes in relative comfort. I continued to use the MRT throughout my stay in Singapore and found it to be clean, efficient, relatively inexpensive, quick, and easy to use, with single ticket and stored-value smart cards available and an abundance of staff at major transport hubs to assist tourists as needed. As an added benefit, the network itself is tightly connected, making it easy to transit between lines and stops and to explore the heart of the city.
If you're feeling a little intimidated at the thought of public transport, I recommend that you experiment in cities with reliable train services before moving onto buses and the like. After all, train routes are often easy to research and understand, don't necessitate a good knowledge of the geography of the city or its street names, and typically utilise electronic ticket machines compatible with a variety of languages, all of which makes it easy to search and pay for your route!
The Airport by Car
Rental cars offer a large degree of freedom in comparison to other modes of transport, so if you're eager to explore a country at your own pace and feel up to the challenge of driving in a new destination, there's no reason not to consider hiring, especially as many car rentals are conveniently located right at the airport.
Driving is also a favourite option amongst those commuting to their local airport, especially if parking fees are reasonable or leaving the car parked at home isn't a safe option. However, the longer the trip, the less feasible parking becomes, as expenses can quickly accrue and soar well above the price of a round trip train ticket or a two-way taxi fare. Because we here at the Scrubba wash bag typically take longer holidays, the drive and park option doesn't usually work too well for us, and we usually avoid this method where possible.
The Airport by Taxi
It's tried and tested, but is it the best option? As always, it depends entirely on your circumstances! Taxis are still favoured by so many around the globe because, quite simply, they're super convenient. A simple call is all it usually takes to have a driver sent directly to your door to chauffeur you, complete with luggage and travel comrades, directly to the destination of your choice. A taxi is a great alternative for those who aren't confident driving or using public transport in a certain area, are on a tight deadline and worry about trusting their sense of direction, or simply prefer to avoid crowds and travel in comfort. The concept of taxis in one form or another, from the familiar yellow taxicab to tuk tuks or rickshaws, is almost universal, so you can be confident that just about wherever you go, the option of a ride will follow.
Taxis can be particularly beneficial for group travellers who are able to split the fare to cut costs, and with plenty of larger vehicles available in most cities, the option certainly isn't restricted to individuals and couples. Because a taxi terminal almost certainly exists at your arrival destination, you won't even have to spend too much time arranging the commute to your accommodation - perfect for weary travellers who have just stepped off a fifteen hour flight after a seven hour layover!
Our office of super budget and lightweight travellers tries to avoid taxis where possible, preferring instead to walk or take transport in order to save money and immerse ourselves in the culture and vibrancy of our chosen destination. Nevertheless, we can't deny the convenience of taxis at those times when we just need to get from Point A to Point B quickly and efficiently, and we certainly appreciate their eternal availability when it comes to prioritising our own safety while, for example, travelling solo at night.
The main thing to remember when travelling by taxi is that language barriers and cultural differences can alter expectations or cause misunderstandings, so try to stay open minded and respectful rather than simply demanding the sort of service you'd receive at home.
The Airport by Uber/Ridesharing Companies
They're appearing everywhere, becoming increasingly popular, and are undoubtedly encroaching on the customer base once dominated by the aforementioned taxi. Our office is quite experienced with using ridesharing as a form of transport both on holiday and at home, and after various tests and trials of this much-used method of commuting, we believe we have a reasonably good understanding of its popularity across the globe.
Like taxis, ridesharing vehicles are convenient for groups, people travelling with lots of luggage, or occasions when you need to get somewhere quickly and after dark. Unlike many taxi companies, they typically offer a user friendly app through which most details of the trip can be tailored to suit your needs. Through the Uber app, for instance, travellers can easily connect with a nearby driver and then watch that driver's progress toward them in real time. Because the destination address is entered into the app, tricky language barriers aren't as prominent, and as Uber is linked to your preferred method of payment, fares are deducted automatically without any awkward exchanges of cash and the accompanying fear of being scammed or overcharged. Finally, as Uber drivers and passengers are rated by a five star system, both parties can be reasonably confident of a safe and reliable journey - a feature that many find preferable to the comparative randomness of flagging down a taxi. However, with the number of ridesharing services rapidly increasing, it's important to remember that not all demand the same quality of their services or conduct background checks on their drivers or their vehicles, so you should do some research in order to gauge safety levels before you sign up.
I found myself using Grab Taxi, a Singapore-based company similar to Uber, reasonably frequently on a recent trip to Vietnam, particularly in sprawling cities that are difficult to walk and that offer limited public transport, like Da Nang. The ability to receive fixed prices was a relief in a country where, unfortunately, taxi scams abound, while inputting my destination address ensured no mishaps on account of my - frankly terrible - Vietnamese. The convenience of booking right from the airport and being able to jump in a car a few minutes later was also welcome, especially after the tiring process of flying. Every driver I rode with was polite and friendly, waiting times barely exceeded five minutes, and the ease of booking remotely enabled me to get a ride even in more isolated parts of the city, negating the need to walk back to a main road frequented by taxis. All of this amounted to a very pleasant and convenient experience that underscores the benefits of using ridesharing companies while travelling. Although, in my experience, securing a ride to the airport can be a little trickier than securing one from the airport, (drivers understandably frequent the airport in search of passengers, but those already in the city are often more content to remain central by simply transporting passengers locally), you shouldn't have too much trouble securing a ride in either direction.
It must also be noted that clashes between ridesharing groups and local taxi companies are not uncommon, with the latter accusing companies like Grab and Uber of pinching their customers and contributing to a significant decline in their passenger numbers. Such incidents draw attention to the deeper issues inherent within the expansion and domination of major international companies, and may encourage some to instead choose local taxi companies in order to better support local industry.
So there you have it. With so many different transport options available across the globe, the necessary admin of researching your airport commute mightn't be quite as arduous as you'd imagine. Use the above airport commuting tips and the below quick reference guide to select your preferred form of transport, then book your next trip without any commuting fears holding you back.