How to easily navigate in an unfamiliar city
In recent years, I sometimes had to travel alone to a new city for me in Russia for personal matters, and each time I had some free time. Than just sitting in expensive places, I like to explore the city and feel its beauty for a day or two. Thanks to several mobile applications and sites, it turns out to accommodate a maximum of interesting things at this time. Friends then sometimes wonder how I managed to visit so many places, and when someone asks me to tell you the way, I never answer that I myself am not local.
If an upcoming business trip or a business trip to an unfamiliar city makes you think about being late, overpaying and the risk of being lost, I want to share with the readers of “Easy Useful” some simple tips from my experience.
Buy tickets easier
Considering the journey from the very beginning, I will give advice to those people who still travel to the train station at the ticket office or overpay to intermediaries for air tickets.
It is much more convenient and profitable to buy plane tickets or train via the Internet — from a home computer or directly from a smartphone. Here are a few sites worth exploring.
- Yandex.Airline Tickets is the most comprehensive and accurate search for tickets on airplanes that I have tried. Yandex does not sell tickets itself, but works as an aggregator of all the available offers from the airlines themselves and from agencies. This is a powerful tool that is easy to use: enter all the wishes and get the best deals for them, which can be booked online with payment by card. If the departure date has not yet been determined, then you will be especially interested in the “price movement” function, which shows the neighboring days when tickets may be cheaper.
The site works great on smartphones as well, so you can choose your own flight on the go. There is an application for iOS and Android.
- The site of Russian Railways (pass.rzd.ru) — here you can see a list of trains in the right direction, and choose an empty seat, and immediately pay for a ticket. If you go through the electronic registration directly on the site, then you can already arrive at the station before boarding the train and take with you only a passport.
It is even easier to buy tickets through the official Russian Railways mobile app for iOS and Android.
- The BlaBlaCar website and mobile application (blablacar.ru) is a service for finding travel companions who will give you a lift for your car for a small fee. Not everyone can like the long road in the car, but this service can be very helpful in cases where it is difficult to plan a return date before the last day, and then all the suitable tickets are bought up. On popular destinations you can always find a good offer right on the day of departure, sometimes successful trips turn out to be less popular. If you are not yet registered in this service, I recommend that you prepare an account in advance and install the application for iOS or Android on your mobile so that this option is ready. By the way, most often this option is the most economical. But do not respond to suspiciously cheap travel proposals and do not contact the drivers without any feedback, so as not to get a bad experience.
Be safe in case of trouble
- Buy a compact but capacious external battery for your phone and a kit for fast charging.
- Write your phone number on the back of the card in your notebook in order to quickly block it when it is lost. Just do not keep this entry in your wallet.
- Rewrite your mobile IMEI number there. This is a unique number that is assigned to each unit. To do this, simply dial the phone number «* # 06 #». If your phone is stolen, then by contacting the police with these numbers, you will get a chance to get the device back.
- Install and configure the weather widget on your mobile. For example, Yandex.Pogoda always shows the temperature in the notification panel.
Purchase a transport card
In the past few years, more and more million-plus cities in Russia have been launching their cards to pay for public transport. As a rule, they allow saving citizens who travel all the time, but sometimes it can be beneficial for a city guest to get such a card. To find out for sure, try searching the Internet for this query: “transport map [city name]”.
In Moscow, such a card is called “Troika”, it costs 50 rubles. and allows you to save up to 20 p. from one trip. It can be replenished through the mobile application of your bank, so you do not have to look for terminals and exchange cash.
The most important thing is that the card will not have to stay at the box office of stations or in calculations with the conductor. You buy it only once and can keep it in your collection until the next return to this city.
Ask the mobile first
Every time I am surprised when a person with a smartphone asks passers-by for a road. Online maps already know a lot of things that most recently had to find out personally from the locals, getting not always accurate information. But now there are many such applications, and each has its own advantages when navigating in an unfamiliar city. Here are some of the most basic:
- Google Maps is preinstalled on many smartphones and knows a lot of relevant information about different places. For example, before choosing a cafe for a quick snack, you can compare the size of the average bill in this application, view reviews and photos from visitors, and even check on the attendance chart how crowded it is now. By the number and accuracy of such information about various institutions and public places, Google bypasses competitors.
- Yandex.Maps accurately pave the route through the city to the desired goal. Thousands of enthusiasts from all over Russia are helping to fill these cards with fresh data. Due to this, the application usually knows the most current routes of public transport, and also accurately shows the sidewalks and paths for those who walk on foot. In addition, in this application, you can monitor the movements of ground public transport to find out how much more you have to wait at the bus stop (but this feature is not valid in all cities). If you like the functionality, download the application for iOS or Android.
- 2Gis works without the Internet, knows the shopping centers from the inside and knows how to show the entrance to the building for the desired organization. Once a month, there are updates for each city separately, which need to be downloaded, and the program performs the rest of the actions completely offline: it searches for the necessary addresses and establishments, builds routes — this can help out in roaming. In buildings such as business centers with a multitude of organizations and several entrances, you can see how to get from the street exactly to the place you need. And for many large shopping centers a detailed floor plan has been made showing all the stores — this is very convenient! For those who would like to visit the most interesting places in the new city, the “Guide” section will offer several thematic lists of such places with a brief description. In general, before you leave, be sure to install this application for iOS or Android and download the map of the desired city.
Which card to install from these three or from their analogues? You can immediately three, or only with the benefits you need.
Guest of the capital can be in the subway like at home
Going to Moscow? Then, most likely, you will often have to use the subway. The standard scheme of the Moscow metro does not always obviously show the shortest path from one station to another on different branches, because the distances on it are depicted very arbitrarily. It happens that there are several different ways to make transplants, and it is difficult to calculate the time to travel. But there are a couple of applications that can make the trip more predictable and quick.
- Yandex.Metro calculates the fastest way between stations, warns about repair work and recommends borrowing the best cars for subsequent transfer. In this application there is the same working scheme of the metro of St. Petersburg. For iOS and Android.
- The official application from the Metro: iOS and Android.
- The scheme of metro stations helps to find the necessary transitions on transfers and exits to the surface even before your train stops. You no longer need to look through the hanging signs and ask the passengers, shouting over the noise of the train. There are independent applications for iOS and Android.
- The application «Wi-Fi in the subway» is better not to use the subway, so as not to be blocked. It was created to give access to free internet on trains without going through authorization and viewing ads every time. But at the end of 2017, users began to lose access to the network in the Moscow metro after using this tool. You also risk to get into the black list of the system if you use a browser with an ad blocker to authorize.
How to quickly navigate in a strange city
- Save all the places you want to visit in the «bookmarks» on your favorite mobile map.Open the address, select the organization, click ☆ asterisk, ♡ heart or ⚐ checkbox — depending on the application.
- Use the time in transport to plan the next step: study the transplantation scheme or figure out on the map how you will walk to the place.
- Explore mobile maps and creatively search the Internet for objects of interest in your path. If you come to the city in a particular case, have time to get to know him at least a little. Perhaps the 2Gis «guidebook» will tell you a curious landmark just off the target you need to visit.
Gone are the days when a trip alone to an unfamiliar city, and even more so — a foreign country, was equally joy and stress. Today, mobile applications for travelers help navigate in any city in the world no worse than the locals.
After all, you still take a mobile ride — so use its capabilities to 100%! Look for shortcuts, go to places with high ratings, find attractions near your routes. Travel wisely!