My biggest fear when I travel alone, is figuring out how to get around without getting terribly lost, looking like a tourist or heading completely in the opposite direction and giving up on my destination altogether (which I have done more than I care to admit). Hello Citymapper! How did I not know you existed?!
Because of my fears, I have become a huge planner when I travel. When I went to Prague many years ago pre-sophisticated smart phones, I packed my itinerary tight and had every tram journey planned & printed from point A to point B (I just love a city with trams!), even pre-booked taxis before I left home for trips farther afield. In Auckland and Melbourne (my oft-repeated destination) their transit systems have comprehensive apps that give you point to point instructions. And even in NYC, I find myself relying on Google Maps for subway or walking routes. Well no more . . .
As I started planning for my next trip to Lisbon – where I don’t speak the language, where transit system apps and quite frankly decent cross over transit maps don’t exist, where I seem to have chosen a hotel for which the closest form of transportation is a jam-packed tourist tram with waits up to an hour long and where hills upon hills can make walking a daunting task, I feared not only my usual woes but that my Uber bill would skyrocket out of control.
Then somehow, I stumbled upon CityMapper as a result of my 800th google search on how to get from said hotel to various points around the city. Boom! The best thing I have ever seen. Simply put in your starting address, your go to address — choose by clicking on a map or entering an exact address — and you get options galore with detailed English instructions and even step by step notifications if you wish. Save addresses, send meeting spots to friends, sync between devices, see what’s nearby. It’s everything you need for just about any major city, all in one simple to use app.
Now, I plan to leave for Lisbon without detailed pre-planning, just a list of places I want to see, a rough outline by day and I’ll figure it out on the fly.