“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.”
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.
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.
Want More Trouble-Free Subway Travel Tips
- Though it is specifically about European subways, most of Rick Steves’ advice on riding European subways applies to anywhere in the world.
- Here are some tips for using subways in New York City, London, Mexico City, Tokyo, Paris, Rome, Buenos Aires, and China.
- Here are the ten best subways according to Frommers and the 12 most beautiful subway stations according to Mapquest. (I have been to the ones listed in Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Naples, Bilbao, and Washington DC and agree they are spectacular. I also love the Hollywood and Vine station in Los Angeles).