In Europe and the US it’s simple to find your way through cities because bus stops have regular schedules and maps. Other parts of the world are not as organized. But there’s always a trend in the madness you see. The easiest way to not get lost is to walk and follow large avenues. That way, you’re always connected to an artery.
Today, satellite maps can help us before we even arrive. Jot down the main avenues, and get an idea of the city. Remember which way is north. If you know a specific address you need to find, you can find it on Google Maps. Even tucked away streets are listed.
Public transit routes
Write down the names of neighborhoods. In much of the world people navigate public transit systems not by route numbers but by the names of the streets and neighborhoods traversed. So commit some information to memory and you’ll have your bearing. Do not depend on the internet to find your bus routes in less-developed countries.
Get your bearings by asking
Ask the people who you’re staying with for their address, and plan to first arrive to the most obvious location in their area. This could be a large park that everyone surely knows the name of, or a subway station, or perhaps a museum or stadium.
Throughout your navigating through cities, it behooves you to ask again and again where you are, or where Avenue A is. Ask on one block, and then ask again on the next. Do not trust one person’s guess as to where you are. In some parts of the world, it’s common for people to tell you where something is regardless of if they know or not. It’s a good idea to inquire in local shops, since the shopkeepers know their areas. In touristy cities, a free map is easy to come by at tourist kiosks or offices.
Finally, I want to say that I always walk if the distance is not more than a day away. It is a far better option to utilize your heels and toes than to jump on public transport. You get to know a city better, and you are better able to get your bearings. Always opt to walk if you have the time and the patience.