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Backpacking Travel Tips
Mastering Public Transportation

Backpackers need to master public transportation. It’s a little overwhelming at first. However, most likely you’ll settle into it after your first few days as a globetrotter. Besides from dealing with transportation schedules, knowing how to get the best value on ticket prices is the biggest obstacle. I keen traveler will also have a grasp on what modes of public transportation are available in a specific region.

Especially in Europe, most major travel destinations have extensive public transportation systems that include buses and a metro system. Alternatively, taxis are usually available but are almost never worth what they cost. Taxis drivers are also known to take advantage of travelers by charging higher fares. Tour buses are another option. In addition to a lift to key tourist attractions, you’ll usually be provided with an overview of the sights. Of course, tour buses cost a little bit more. Further, backpackers, working off a limited budget, are usually better off exploring on their own.

Most metro systems are divided into zones. Therefore, you should be aware of what zones you will need access to. Metro tickets that permit travel in multiple zones cost more. Therefore, only purchase tickets for zones that are necessary. Pocket size metro maps are typically available for free at tourist office and metro station information desks. We recommend that you pickup one of these as soon as you arrive. Large wall maps are also on display at metro stations and act as a good reference when you’re on the go.

Depending on how much ground you plan to cover, multi-day passes might save you money. However, weighing the costs is advisable. If you only need to use public transportation a couple times a day, you’re probable better off purchasing single trip tickets. When purchasing single trip tickets, be sure you have the correct change. Ticket machines often do not give change and/or require exact change.

When you first arrive at the train station or airport, your first trip should be to the tourist office. Here you can pickup the all important tourist map. This map usually includes all the main tourist attractions and main metro stations. Backpackers often find themselves on foot quite a bit. The tourist map is a vital guide.