Everyone has a favorite form of transportation, and I’ll be honest: car rental is my favorite. I like total control over where I’m going, when I’m going, and I love being able to throw all my stuff in the backseat. That being said, driving in a major city just leads to major frustrations for me, so I avoid it entirely. Vacation is for relaxation – not for stress.
So what do I do in cities? Usually…walk. On most vacation days, I cover somewhere between 5-10 miles of walking (and that’s in cities; in national parks I tend to cover even more ground by foot). However, let’s face it: walking’s not realistic for all situations. In that case, it’s public transportation for me instead of taxis!
Admittedly, public transportation has backfired for me in the past a few times, with my poor mother following me around in Madrid as we exited the metro station and I was “sure” our hotel was in a specific direction (after a mile, I stubbornly realized we had headed in the exact wrong direction and needed to turn around). However, 9 times out of 10, it’s worked like a charm and gotten me to my destination for just $1-2 per trip, often even faster than sitting around in traffic.
These days, there’s no reason to get lost since there are a million ways to pre-research your route – or even figure it out on the go.
Navigate Public Transport Without Losing Your Way
1.) Google Maps (free!)
This might be an old one, but it’s lasted because it works great. I love it for pre-research, especially for checking to make sure my hotel is located where I want it to be. It’s easily used online and just as simple as an app, so anyone can use it. I absolutely love that I don’t need to know addresses, and can type in business names instead, which is especially handy when someone offers up a restaurant suggestion.
2) AllSubway ($0.99)
While I love being able to get specific directions from Point A to Point B, sometimes all I need is an old-fashioned map. AllSubway is great because it has maps to over 100 cities’ systems, and you can access them at any time even without an internet connection. That’s perfect if you don’t have international data service, or if you’re simply underground and need to check on something while you don’t have a signal! I love that the maps are in the same visual format as what is actually published by the city, making it easy to jump from maps on the wall to a map in the palm of your hand.
3) HopStop (free)
I might be partial to this one because the old website helped me a ton when I first moved to NYC. Today, the app has a lot more features than the original website and is still just as easy to use. Just like AllSubway, you’ll find transit maps, though for fewer cities (mostly just the USA, Canada, London, Moscow, and St. Petersburg), and like Google Maps, you’ll get point-to-point directions via walking, biking, subway, bus, or taxi. The two most helpful features that differentiate this app, however, are service advisories and schedules.
There are a million other apps and websites as well, many of them designed for a specific city. A few quick online searches will provide reviews on which hold their weight and will help you on your upcoming trip. However, learn from my advice: if it doesn’t work out within five minutes of arriving at your intended subway/bus station, get a taxi. It’s not worth losing sleep over!
If you liked this post, take a minute to follow my blog so you never miss another post.