“Every day I walk down the street or hop on the subway, I am reminded that I am a citizen of a very big, incredibly diverse world.”
Shaun King

Trouble-Free Subway Travel Tips

When on a short trip to a new city, I take the subway as often as possible and encourage other Fifty Plus Nomads to follow in my footsteps.

After taking subways in 20 cities worldwide, I confidently can take subways anywhere since subway routes are easy to understand, and most tourist sites are less than a twenty-minute walk from a station.

I also love looking at the subway stations and just observing locals.

I usually won’t bother with buses for a short trip if a city does not have a subway. Intracity buses are confusing and slowand I typically prefer walking or taking Ubers or taxis in these cities.

Following these subway travel tips should make it easy for my fellow Fifty Plus Nomads to use subways worldwide.

11 Tips for Trouble-Free Subway Travel

  • In larger cities worldwide, take the subway. Make sure you know the last station’s name on your route, and you will get on the right train.  
  • The name of the subways vary. The most common name throughout the world is the metro. However, there are many exceptions, including the tube in London, the U-Bahn in Berlin,
  • Subway Connections can be confusing. I have made more mistakes in connections on subways than anything else. Make sure that you carefully check the signs to make sure that you connect to the correct line. Check the maps inside the subway trains to ensure you know how to get to your destination correctly.
  • Listen for announcements and look for electronic billboards indicating the stop names along the subway route. The names of most subway stations are on display throughout the station. If you can, sit near the subway map (or carry a map with you) and follow the stops so you get off at the correct stop.
  • If you miss your stop by mistake, go to the other side of the tracks. Then, backtrack on the train heading in the opposite direction. (Don’t cross the tracks, though).
  • If possible, avoid traveling during rush hours. Overcrowding can be very uncomfortable and make it challenging to get off at the right station. In addition, you are more likely to get pickpocketed on busy subway trains.
  • It can be tricky to figure out where to exit a subway station, try to find a landmark in the same direction as your destination, and follow the signs to the landmark. You can use Google Maps to help. Often the subways have maps of the neighborhood at their exits to help you find your destination.

Subway Tickets and Passes Travel Tips

  • The most significant problem for most travelers involves buying subway tickets. Unless there is a lengthy line, I recommend buying tickets at a kiosk staffed by a human being, mainly if you only use a metro system a few times. Unfortunately, many stations, especially in Europe, do not have these kiosks.
  • The machines can be complicated to use at first, particularly since some systems have several diverse types of tickets available. (Note: Many kiosks have screens available in other languages. Usually, you can access these screens in English by looking for the US or UK (Union Jack) flag).
  • If you will be in the same city for a while and plan to take subways a lot, invest in a smart card (usually less than $10 US). Once you have the card, you will not have to waste time buying tickets. Plus, the fares are reduced when you use the card.
  • Keep your ticket until you finish your ride. Sometimes you need to insert your ticket into the turnstile to exit the station. In some places, you also need to show the ticket to inspectors.

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Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

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