How to Get Around in an Unfamiliar City

Published: July 3, 2017 - 8:58am EDT

GPS app on smartphone

Have you ever gotten lost when visiting a city that was new or unfamiliar to you? When you’re traveling, it can be difficult to navigate and figure out how to get around, and it can be quite stressful and frustrating when you realize you’ve taken a wrong turn or gotten lost.

Luckily, there are some great apps you can download on your smartphone to help make this task easier for you. In this article, we’ll tell you about some of our favorite apps to help you get around, and give you some tips to stay safe while doing so. Let’s kick off with the safety tips!

5 tips for safe travelling in an unfamiliar city

1. Let a friend or family member know where you’re going.

In case anything bad were to happen, you should always let someone else know where you’re planning on going before you go there – especially if you’re going alone. Give a friend or family member an idea about where you’re going to be and when, as well as when you expect to return. Be sure you have each other’s contact information should any problems arise, and your mobile phone is fully charged, so you can use it in an emergency.

2. If possible, bring someone with you when exploring a new place.

Exploring a new city can be both exciting and scary at the same time. Having a travel buddy with you can help to ease your nervousness, and adds to your safety. If you’re able to bring a friend or family member out with you, do so. You could also opt to hire a travel/tour guide to show you around the city.

3. Download a map app to help you navigate.

If you have a smartphone, chances are it has some sort of map application pre-installed on it. This allows you to use your phone as a GPS system to help you figure out where you’re going and how to get around. Some of these apps, like Google Maps, can even provide directions that utilize public transit or ride services like Uber.

GPS app in car

4. Look up maps/guides to local transit systems.

Public transit can be very useful and cost-effective when getting around a city. Search online for “_____ [city name] public transit” and see if you can find information about the city’s public transit systems, routes, and schedules. There may even be a mobile app for it!

Here are some websites where you can find public transit information for popular North American cities:
New York City: http://www.mta.info/nyct
Chicago: http://www.transitchicago.com/
Los Angeles: https://www.metro.net/
Houston: http://www.ridemetro.org/Pages/index.aspx
Philadelphia: http://www.septa.org/maps/
Phoenix: http://www.valleymetro.org/
Atlanta: http://www.itsmarta.com/
Washington, DC: https://www.wmata.com/
Toronto: http://www.ttc.ca/
Montreal: http://www.stm.info/en/info/advice/visitors
Vancouver: http://www.translink.ca/
Mexico City: http://mexicometro.org/

5. If taking a cab ride service, get picked up/dropped off in well-lit, public areas.

Since you’re not in a city you know very well, you should always try to be picked up and dropped off in busy and/or well lit areas when taking a cab or other ride service. If you get into and out of a car in a public place, you’re less likely to run into any problems. When using a ride service app, always check the licence plate and type of vehicle to be sure it matches the profile of your driver before getting into the vehicle.

Those are all of our top tips for staying safe when exploring a new city. Next, let’s talk about some apps you can use to help you get around when it’s too far to walk or not accessible by public transit.

Best 6 apps for helping you get around in a new city

1. Uber

Uber logo

Uber is one of the most popular ride services worldwide. It’s available in thousands of cities across the globe. Uber drivers use their own vehicles to transport riders to their desired destination. There are various options for the type of rides you can request from Uber; depending on where you live, you may be able to request a fancier type of vehicle, an extra large vehicle to fit more people, or even a shared “Uber POOL” ride – sharing with another rider to save both of you some money on your fare.

Before requesting your ride, you’ll also be given an estimate of how much the ride will cost you, and you can pay through the app with your credit card or PayPal, so you don’t have to worry about having cash!

Best Feature: Fare estimation
Download the app: iOSAndroid

Uber button

 

2. Lyft

Lyft logo

Lyft is quite similar to Uber. It’s available in hundreds of cities in the U.S. Rides from Lyft are usually cheaper than a traditional taxi ride, and you can get an estimate of the cost of your ride before you get in. When you sign up, you’ll even get $5 off the cost of your first trip! After a Lyft ride is complete, the rider and driver can rate and review each other. This ensures that you’ll be getting quality service when you request a ride from a Lyft driver.

Best Feature: Saves money
Download the app: iOSAndroid

Lyft button

 

3. Curb

Curb logo

Another ride sharing service like Uber and Lyft is known as Curb. The difference between Curb and these other services is that Curb only allows licensed, insured, and officially sanctioned taxi drivers. Curb has partnered with nearly 100 taxi companies in over 65 cities across the United States. If you feel more comfortable knowing your driver is a taxicab professional and not someone driving their own vehicle, Curb could be a great option for you!

Best Feature: Professional drivers
Download the app: iOSAndroid

Curb button

 

4. MyTaxi

MyTaxi logo

MyTaxi (previously known as Hailo) is the most popular taxi app in Europe. It allows users to request rides from professional, licensed taxis in over 50 European cities, as well as a few in the US. Check out MyTaxi’s operating areas here. MyTaxi has an awesome “Favourite Driver” feature, where if you have an awesome experience with a driver, you can “favourite” them afterwards. This increases the chances that you will be picked up by them if you request a ride again at a later date.

Best Feature: Favourite Driver feature
Download the app: iOSAndroid

MyTaxi button

 

5. Gett

Gett logo

Another great ride service is Gett. Gett is available in many cities across the UK, Russia, and Israel, as well as New York City. Gett always charges flat rates for trips, so unlike with some other services, you don’t have to worry about the cost of your ride increasing just because it’s a time of high demand.

Best Feature: Flat rate fare
Download the app: iOSAndroid

Gett button

 

6. Easy Taxi

Easy Taxi logo

The last app we’d recommend using to get around a new city is called Easy Taxi. This app uses your phone’s internal GPS system to pinpoint your location on a map, and matches you with a nearby driver. Easy Taxi’s drivers are trained for their positions and have to go through a background check before they can serve customers. The Easy Taxi service is available in hundreds of cities across 15 different countries, including many that other services don’t cover.

Best Feature: Covers areas that other services don’t
Download the app: iOSAndroid

Easy Taxi button

 

Those are all the apps we’d recommend using to get yourself around in a city that is unfamiliar to you. And with that, we can wrap up this article! If you’ve used any of these apps before, let us know what you thought of them in a comment. Check out our courses on Uber and Lyft if you’re interested in learning how to use the apps!

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