Uber is Like Magic on Family Trips + Free Uber Ride Tips

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Picture this not-so-hypothetical situation.  Hot July day in DC.  Very tired four year old who traveled late the night before, and had to wake up on an Eastern time zone schedule for a 7:30 AM White House tour.  Three adults taking turns carrying the now hot, tired, and sweaty kid parts of the way back to the hotel after the tour for a much needed nap.


Starting to get tired at the White House


…now Grandma’s turn


…and officially pooped with Grandpa

Fun, right?  Well, the White House tour was quite fun (more on that soon), but we knew the little one would poop out before too long after only a few hours of sleep, and she did.  We could have continued walking slowly along with her and/or taking turns carrying her back to the room.  It isn’t a far walk when you are actually walking, but under the current conditions it was further than we wished.  Now in a normal world, you just suck it up and get back to the room eventually.  You may be hot, really sweaty, and have a sore back, but you will make it.  That was one option, but we opted for a better option.  We called in a magical fairy named Uber.

I pulled out my iPhone, hit the Uber app, hit the SUV option since there were 5 of us, and about 3 minutes later a nice air conditioned Suburban SUV appeared.  I knew the name of the driver before he arrived, could track his progress on the app, and knew what license plate number to look for.  We hopped in, the driver turned the AC up, everyone’s moods improved instantly, and within a couple more minutes we were back at the hotel.  It was like magic, and I think my dad and sister who had never used Uber before really thought it was magical that I could hit a button on my phone and then an SUV appeared to our exact location within minutes.  It’s kinda like having a fairy godmother for when walking just ain’t gonna cut it any more.  We certainly don’t use it everywhere we go while on vacations, but when we do use it, it is so appreciated.

Uber SUV

Thanks to using it today I also got some first-hand experience on how their current “first ride free” promotion works.  If you are new to Uber (and I think my dad and sister need to sign up ASAP after seeing how magical it can be!), you get your first ride free (up to $30) – my link, and then any overage on that you will be charged on your linked credit card.  If you refer someone to Uber, then you also earn a free ride (up to $30).  The $30 isn’t just added to your Uber credit totals the way it has been with some other promotions, but instead when you ride you will get one ride free per referral up to $30, and then the overage will be charged to you.

So if you are on a family trip like I am you can sign-up for Uber and get a $30 free ride, then have your spouse sign-up off your account so you get another free ride + they get a free ride, then have your parents do the same, etc.  With my husband and parents here, we could conceivably get seven free Uber rides thanks to this promo by all referring each other and signing up…if we were all new to Uber.  Remember that you don’t earn your free referral ride until the person you referred uses theirs, so you have to use some strategy.  However, that many rides is more than enough to get to/from the airport with ease and get “rescued” like we did when you just don’t want to walk anymore.

Even though we find the Uber ride prices very reasonable, the price of getting rides around town can still add up if you are out of free rides, so we certainly don’t use Uber every time we leave the hotel.  Still, being able to push a button and have what would have been a tough walk carrying a very big four year old turn into a quick and cool ride is pretty great.  Being able to try your first ride free with the current promo is even better.

I recommend keeping Uber in mind to get you out of a similar situation on a future family trip…just in case!

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  1. Any idea on how to get UberFamily in DC for the car seat?

    The promo code for UberFamily worked, but then I think its just NYC only.

    Booster seat is the only deterrent. How did you do it without one?

  2. Hey guys,

    Need a ride? Here’s a $25 credit for you to try Lyft – it’s like a cab, but costs less. To get the $25, just download the mobile app for iPhone/Android and type in “LOSANGELES” in the payments section of the app. If you’re in a pioneer city, you’ll get free rides on top of the $25!

    To order a ride, tap “Request Lyft” and your driver will pick you up in minutes to get you where you need to go

    Feel free to share it with friends & family!

  3. Used Uber in Paris instead of having hotel call a cab for us, as Paris cabs start charging from the time that they are called, not when you actually get in. Uber only charges for the time you are actually in the car. Black Car was cheaper than cab for our two rides.

    • I wish I’d known it worked in Paris. I was stuck in the rain by Notre Dame and ended up jumping into the first taxi we could find to go to CDG. Of course, he didn’t take credit cards (in 2014!) and I had no Euros left. So I had to change dollars at the airport to pay him, and thus got price-gouged twice, first by the taxi and again by the bureau de change.

      • Errr ouch, Notre Dame to CDG is a long ways. The Black Car option was about 70E for us for about the same trip. Highly recommended.

  4. We are in DC too, for a few more days before going home! Used Uber for the first time in Philly to get to the Amtrak station it was so easy! And then my kids all told me “Uber Uber” when we got off the train in DC and it was easier than trying to find a taxi van for the 5 of us. Now anywhere we want to go they prefer Uber! So hot in DC today!

  5. When using Uber abroad (e.g. Paris), does the fare gets charged in local currency or does it get converted by US dollars by Uber? I’m trying to figure out whether I should use a card without foreign conversion fees.

    • It gets charged in the foreign currency, so double ultimate rewards points without foreign exchange fee on Chase sapphire preferred. That is the other advantage of Uber, that you can use your credit card; many of the cabs we used in Europe (London, Arras, Versailles, Paris, Berlin) would not accept credit cards.

  6. -Tip is already built in.
    -Foreign trips are in foreign currency and referral credits you might have in USD will not work when you are in a location that uses a foreign currency. Still so so easy even overseas though.
    -Agree it is just sooooo easy, which I am all for while on family vacations.
    -As far as I know UberFamily is just in NYC. I hope to try it out later this week. One option for those who don’t really need a car seat is this
    http://www.amazon.com/BubbleBum-Inflatable-Car-Booster-Seat/dp/B003GQ0LQ8 for kids still in real car seats, here is some info http://mommypoints.boardingarea.com/2014/06/05/do-you-a-use-car-seat-for-your-baby-in-cabs-when-traveling/#sthash.4X5A7DVv.dpbs

  7. I have had 2 trips to DC in the past two weeks and I got a little notice that all uberx rides were 25% off. Might have only been til end of June, but it was nice. We used our up to $30 free ride to get to mt. Vernon and back since we knew it would be a bigger bill. Referring your spouse rocks:)

  8. Hi Summer, We are in DC too! How far in advance did you request for the a White House a Tickets? Our request was denied so we were quite disappointed.

    It was waaaay hot today…we also used Uber today to get around and loved it! Thank for explaining how the credit works.

  9. Uber is indeed a game changer for many. Far easier to summon a car, SUV, or taxi at your fingertips than standing on a corner in sweltering summer heat while hoping an open cab comes. But beware surge pricing, it can really cause the amount of your uber to go up to shocking amounts, especially considering you don’t know what the final price will be.

    Here’s my referral link, $30 of your first ride for new users. https://www.uber.com/invite/pr2a9

  10. One more tip for those that might need it. The German car seat laws are very strict, so you will very likely need a car seat. I had read that if you rented a car that it was much less expensive to just buy a booster seat than to rent it from the car rental place. What we did not anticipate is how hard it would be to find a place to buy them. We asked several people at the hotel and other tourist places in Berlin and nobody could tell us. Finally, one person at the car rental agency was able to tell us that we could find them at the hardware store (think Lowes/Home Depot), in our case Hellweg, which is a national chain. The price to buy it was the same as a one day rental through the car rental agency.

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