When you’re at the mercy of an unfamiliar city, sometimes you have no choice but to use public transportation. Navigating public transportation while traveling can be a fun exploration of that city’s infrastructure, but it can also be intimidating.
Fortunately, public transportation is typically easy to navigate. If you’re ever confused, there’s always a commuter or team member nearby you can ask for help.
That said, you might still be looking to skip the subway adventure. If so, you can conveniently ship your car to another state in preparation for your extended vacation.
Investing in auto shipping services can eliminate the need to explore any confusing bus route maps.
However, if you’re feeling adventurous enough to explore taxpayer transportation (or only dashing away for a quick getaway), here are eight tips for navigating public transportation while traveling.
Navigating Public Transportation While Traveling
Carry backups of your maps
It’s tempting to rely on your favorite navigation app to make your way through public transportation. Still, while technology often makes traveling a dream, in this case, it could turn your city exploration into a nightmare.
Navigational apps sometimes don’t have the most up-to-date information about bus and train timetables, which could leave you waiting on the platform or taking the wrong transit.
Instead, print out paper copies of your city map and any subway lines or bus route maps. Using these together, you should plot out which stops you need to take to reach your destination.
Study the area you are traveling to
Navigating public transportation while traveling can feel risky, especially if you’re new to the city or traveling by yourself. If you’re feeling unsure, make a plan before you even leave your lodgings.
Research the schedules, the fares, directions for finding train or bus stations, how fast or slow everything works, etc.
It’s much easier to make a plan while you’re cozy in your bed than to scramble to create a new route on the fly because you didn’t know about some aspect of the system.
Study the ticket system for public transport
Navigating public transportation while traveling can be overwhelming, and some trains, busses, or subways might require a single prepaid pass or a separate ticket for every single ride.
Look into whether you can use a prepaid pass, like the classic MetroCard. Some places might also provide time-dependent tickets, such as an evening, twenty-four hours, or a week.
These tickets typically cover any travel within the city, so long as it’s within the designated time frame.
When navigating public transportation while traveling, pay close attention to any announcements. Know your stop’s scheduled arrival time and listen to any unexpected announcements over the loudspeakers.
If you’re traveling in a country where the primary language isn’t English, look up how to pronounce your stop before leaving. You may not recognize it when it plays over the PA system.
If you like listening to music on the go, keep the volume on low or skip the tunes for now. That will keep you aware of your surroundings, so you don’t miss your stop or fall victim to a pickpocket.
Practice common sense and local etiquette
When navigating public transportation while traveling, you do not want to stand out as a tourist. That means you should move with the crowds and avoid taking up space by taking pictures or gawking at the sights.
It might do you good to research local etiquette for your destination. For instance, it might not be polite to eat and talk simultaneously on public transportation.
It will also help watch the crowd: you should follow suit if you notice people using one side of the hall. Don’t forget universal etiquette, such as practicing patience in crowded areas, not standing in the middle of a crowded platform, etc.
It would help if you also stayed aware of your surroundings at all times. Pickpockets like to hang out in crowded areas and have several tricks up their sleeves for tourists.
If you are traveling in a group, keep your eye on everyone so you can get off your transportation together.
Don’t freak out if you get lost.
Everyone navigating public transportation while traveling has gotten lost or gotten off at the wrong stop, and that is perfectly okay.
If you think you missed your stop, get off at the next one and re-evaluate. You can stop and look again at your map or ask for directions if you get lost.
You might feel a little self-conscious looking at a map in public, but your safety and getting where you need to go are most important.
If you are uncomfortable asking a random person for directions, you can find a nearby hotel or business where someone will likely know the area well. Feel free to rest or collect yourself before heading back out again.
Landmarks tell you how close you are
Recognizing different landmarks around your travel destinations can let you know when you are getting close.
Keep your eyes out for various restaurants, parks, or even local oddities around your intended destination. This knowledge will help you know when your stop is approaching.
Always have a Plan B in place.
The great thing about public transportation is how many alternatives there are. If you suffer a mishap traveling by train, you can complete your journey by hailing a taxi.
You might also take a bus or get a ride-share through Uber or Lyft.
That said, make sure that those alternatives are safe or operating where you are traveling. As stated before, thoroughly research how to travel in your current city, and always have a backup plan, no matter how confident you are in Plan A.
Navigating public transportation while traveling might sound scary. Still, if you do your research and act confidently about asking for directions or looking at a map, you will be A-okay no matter where you go.