Learning how to get around in an unfamiliar city can be a touch process when you first arrive. Without having any prior knowledge of a city’s major thoroughfares or alternate routes may present a challenge to an inexperienced traveler, or for someone relocating to a major city.
This is why you need to be well-versed in the major transportation systems available in most larger metropolitan areas, as well as alternate methods.
No matter if you’re visiting a new place for vacation or pleasure, or if you’re doing some preliminary recon to see if you want to relocate, having knowledge about where major landmarks are and the roads to take between them is critical to your success in navigating any major city.
Here, we’ll explore a few ways you can get around in major metropolitan areas around the United States.
Should You Use Your Own Car?
This is going to be left up to how confident you feel about navigating a major city on your own. While having your own car is convenient in many ways, it can also be a hassle in some major cities.
Places like New York City and Chicago have huge urban centers, and parking areas in these cities are limited due to dense population. As such, parking is also costly, and can be even more expensive for larger vehicles.
In addition to parking issues, you’ll need to know how to navigate the labyrinth of one-way streets that are common in many downtown areas. While having travel gear such as an onboard GPS can assist you in finding the quickest route to anywhere you want to go, you have to keep in mind that your GPS doesn’t take into account high crime neighborhoods or areas that you might not want to hang around in for too long. In addition, places with numerous overpasses and cross-streets can throw a GPS off, and make it more difficult to pinpoint your location.
For example, New Orleans has numerous elevated roads that run parallel to the roads underneath them, and this has the tendency to “trick” a GPS in several locations.
Taxis and Shuttles
Chances are, if you’re just getting off of a flight and want to get to your hotel, or to any destination, you can hail a taxi or take a shuttle. Airport and hotel shuttles are normally free when you’re arriving and departing a location, but taxis are not. Some travelers swear by taxi services, and many people think it’s a great way to experience an area and learn some local history through chatting with a cab driver. Today, however, taxi cabs can be costly, and many drivers know a trick or two as to how to increase the amount of their fares by taking a longer route.
Where taxis can be convenient in places like New York City rideshare services might prove to be much more convenient. With a rideshare service, all you have to do is download an app and order a ride from any location. Rideshare services have actually made it more difficult for taxi drivers to earn a living, hence their increasing rates.
Taking public transportation might not be the most ideal way to get around a city for some people, but for others, this is a way of life. This is especially true in cities where it’s less convenient to own a vehicle such as in New York City.
With public transit, you’ll have several options depending on your location. Some cities might offer a great city bus service, while others you’ll find it much more convenient to take the subway or hop on a trolley car or ride on the train.
Public transit is also relatively cheap and costs only a few dollars to ride. And many cities offer passes that you can purchase that will be good for an allotted amount of time on a specific transportation system.
No matter where you visit, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land before you find yourself riding along a winding road of confusion.