Tomorrow, September 22—besides being the first day of fall—also marks the 10th annual World Carfree Day! It’s not that we’re anti-driving (far from it), but it’s a great moment to consider using public transportation when you’re on a trip. The bonuses: you travel like a local, save money, and usually get there faster. Here are some tips to get you started:
Follow the leader: When you’re in a new city and want to use the bus or subway, stand to the side and watch what everyone else does, from using the ticket machines to boarding. It’s not that hard—everyone did it for the first time at some point!
Ask for help: There are often station attendants (or nice locals) who will help you get where you’re going. Carrying a map of your route so that someone can point you in the right direction is a good idea.
Do your homework before you travel: Say you’re going to Europe. The national train systems of most countries have great websites, complete with schedules, maps, and fares. You can find your connections, print them out, and bring them with you.
Skip the cab at the airport: Many U.S. cities—including Dallas, L.A., New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Orlando, and San Francisco now have public transportation options from the airport to the city. Ask at the airport’s information counter or have a look at the website before you leave.
Hit the pavement!: Take in the feel and flavor of a place with the ultimate alternative to a car—your own two feet. Many cities have walking guides you can hire for less than a bus tour. Do a search for “walking” here on TravelandLeisure.com. We have lots of ideas—from Hong Kong to Brooklyn to Kyoto—on how to see a place on foot.
Clark Mitchell is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.