If you don’t live in a big city, traveling to one can be a little intimidating. Even if you do live in a major urban area, immersing yourself in an environment where everything is new and foreign can cause your head to spin a little bit. This is especially true when it comes to moving around from place to place. But armed with some helpful techniques and ideas, you can navigate any big city – domestic or abroad – like a pro.
5 Tips for Getting Around a Big City
Locals may swear that transit is easy in their city, but that’s because they’re locals! You have to learn how to get around without the added benefit of having spent years in the area. Here are some general tips that will apply to most big cities you visit:
- Identify Landmarks
As soon as you arrive at your hotel or place where you’ll be staying, you need to start identifying landmarks. It’s easy to forget street names, but physical landmarks are memorable. Are you located one block down from a McDonald’s? Are you near a main intersection with a fountain? Little visual cues like these will jog your memory when you think you’re getting lost.
- Download the Right Apps
The beauty of modern travel is that you always have resources at your fingertips. Just search your phone’s app marketplace and you’ll find dozens of general and city-specific apps designed to make transportation easier.
- Carry a Physical Map
Your smartphone is a valuable navigation resort…until it isn’t. Phones die, break, and get misplaced. The last thing you want is to be totally dependent on that little electronic device in your pocket. That’s why experts – including many travel bloggers – recommend having a physical map on hand. You might not ever unfold it, but it’s nice knowing that it’s there.
- Use the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Hack
Are you familiar with the “hop-on hop-off bus hack?” This is a little strategy that seasoned tourists use when they know they’ll only be in a big city for a couple of days and they want easy, cheap access to the major attractions.
Here’s what you do: Find a tour company that offers one- or two-day tickets that allow you to hop-on one of their buses and hop-off as many times as you want. Most people stay on these buses and bounce around for a few hours at a time, but you can use it as your very own personal taxi. Take this trolley tour in Honolulu as an example. For just $25, you can navigate the city at your own pace in a unique double-decker trolley. Almost every big city has something similar.
- Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Finally, don’t be fearful of asking for help. Many travelers have this idea that locals are angry with tourists and don’t want to help. This isn’t usually the case. Most locals are happy to give directions and want to make sure that visitors enjoy their time. If you find yourself stressed out and turned around, pop your head into a nearby store and ask for directions. If they aren’t able to get you to your final destination, they can at least get you close!
Master the Art of Big City Transit
It’s a lot more challenging to get around the streets of San Francisco than some rural town in West Texas. But you don’t have to get lost and frustrated when you find yourself in a big city. By heeding the advice in this article, you can find your way around and actually enjoy your trip.