In Travel Tips I’ll be sharing regular updates based on lessons I’ve learnt through my travels to help you better plan your next adventure. The first tip in this series is to consider time of arrival at your destination.
As people who enjoy researching and planning for travel, Rich and I surprised ourselves back in 2015 when we didn’t consider what it would be like to arrive in Shanghai late at night due to lengthy flight delays.
Our original flight had us arriving in Shanghai at 3pm, allowing us ample time to catch the incredible Shanghai Maglev Train to the city followed by a short taxi ride to our hotel. Or so we thought.
A few days earlier there was a typhoon off the coast of Japan which resulted in a five-hour stopover, turned six-hour flight delay in Hong Kong airport due to monsoonal rain that had hit Shanghai after the typhoon.
While we were completely exhausted from waiting in an airport all day, our excitement that holidays had started quickly swept away any thought as to whether we should have re-considered how we got from the airport to our hotel.
We went along with our original plan to catch the Maglev from Pudong Airport to the centre of Shanghai assuming there would be plenty of taxis available at the train station.
Rolling our suitcases down the monstrous train station ramps into monsoonal rain, we quickly realised most people around us were ordering an Uber or calling taxis from their mobile phones—cue the alarm bells!
Not only were people ordering transport through their phones (we didn’t have overseas sim cards), the streets were deserted and dark with train station staff closing the gates to the station's vehicle entrance shortly after we arrived.
After a few minutes of aimlessly hoping an empty taxi would turn the corner to find us huddled beneath the entrance ramp, we decided a drenching walk in the rain would be the only way to find a taxi close by when we didn’t have mobile phone coverage.
We hurriedly rolled our suitcases along the pavement getting our clothes, suitcases and everything inside (I’ve since changed to a hard case for this reason) completely drenched.
About 200 metres down the road, like a mirage, a few blue taxis were stopped in the middle and side of the road. I thought it was a little strange but our research told us the blue taxis are reputable in Shanghai.
After being quoted USD200 cash for a five-minute taxi ride to our hotel, and a little anger from the drivers when we politely declined, the uncomfortable reality was we never considered alternative transport despite knowing our new arrival time. Fail.
Eventually we found a taxi who dropped us at the end of the Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s pedestrian mall, about 800 metres from our hotel.
I’m still not sure if the driver honestly couldn’t find our hotel’s vehicle entrance or if he was upset by our flustered queries on the fare when we entered the taxi (that’s a story for another day).
An 800 metre walk in the pouring rain and 20kg of drenched luggage later we were finally in our room-turned-laundromat silent with disbelief over our travel day turned monsoonal adventure. The lesson: never assume getting from the airport to accommodation in daylight is going to be the same at night!
Of course, hindsight is 20/20 but this adventure taught us not to rely on one way of getting to your hotel, especially if any delays mean you’ll be arriving late at night.
On the upside, we’re now more organised and considered when it comes to getting from the airport to our accommodation in a new city so we can save our energy for adventures instead of chasing down taxis in the rain!
How do you organise your transport from the airport to your accommodation in a new city? Do you wing it or book something in advance? Share your stories in the comments below.