While sitting in the departures terminal of JFK airport I began coming up with a plan for getting into the city of Santiago of the Dominican Republic from the airport (STI). As I browsed through the travel forums it seemed as if there were no public buses that serviced this airport and that a taxi would cost $18.
I could not believe that an $18 taxi was my only option.
Upon landing in the Dominican Republic I began asking around, “Is there a bus that goes to Santiago.”
Read Wiki Vagabond for a guide on How to get cheaper transport from the airport to Santiago
But I was shown where I could get a local taxi to take me into the city for far less money. A lady who ran a refreshments stand told one of her friends to go and show me where to get a local taxi, which she called a “coche” — a car.
I am assuming that this was a service taxi that drives along a set route picking up passengers along the way.
Chaya, Petra, and I followed the girl across the airport pickup/ drop off area to a pull off round-about where there was a taxi waiting for passengers.
The girl then told the driver of a taxi where we wanted to go, which was the Los Jardines district of Santiago where we could catch a bus up north to Sosua. The driver said that where we wanted to go was too far away for the standard 60 peso a person fare.
We agreed to pay 200 pesos total for the ride — a little under 6 USD, or a third of the price the airport taxis were charging.
We hopped into the cab. As we rode I talked to the driver about beer and beaches, he told me that Hermanas was his favorite part of his country. I said that I would go there.
Map of where to get a cheaper taxi at the Santiago airport
There are usually two ways of entering a city from an airport: the tourist way and the local way.
Tourists, seemingly, want convenience, they want their travels to be easy — and rightfully so — and they are willing to pay for it. Good on them, they are going home in a couple of weeks, they should not want to waste their time fumbling around trying to save money.
I am probably not going home any time soon, I need to save all the money I can. I need to find the local ways.
The tourist way means paying for a special airport taxi, the local way means getting to the airport how people who live in the country do.
There is no way that the people of the Dominican Republic pay $18 to get to the airport. I refuse to believe that the airport employees pay almost a full day’s wage just to get work. So I had to find out how they get to the airport.
I did so, and saved money. All I had to do was walk 150 meters away from the airport and catch a cab next to the highway.
This is a similar story for many airports in the world. You walk out of the arrivals hall and into a swarm of piranhas who want to separate you from your money. If you walk passed this crowd and outside of the convenience of “curb side” transport, you will save a lot of money.
Ask the airport employees how they get to work, ask them where you can find a local bus. If you can’t speak the same language then walk out of the airport and towards the nearest highway — chances are, there will be a bus or taxi stop nearby.
When I enter a city for the first time from the airport I look first for a train, next for a bus, then a local taxi. I often need to walk out of the airport and onto a highway to catch the latter these two options, but, believe me, it is worth it.
When flying into a new city and being faced with overpriced transport options from the airport, ask yourself this question, “How do the airport employees get here?”
Ask them, and then travel into the city the way they do. It will save you a a bundle of cash, and provide you with a small victory of frugal wit over costly convenience.
Travel Tips — Budget Travel