How to Travel Best in a Big City

AAA suggests five ways to navigate a city when traveling.

tourist outside Buckingham Palace in London, picture
Travel in big cities like a savvy local.
Michaelpuche / Shutterstock

"Navigating a big city can be tough, but with a little prep, there's so much you can do." —AAA  Travel Counselor Marina Axline

1. Consult a map.

Before you start planning, get the lay of the land. Go to and download the AAA International Destination Guide for the city you're visiting. In it, you'll find street maps—plus handy information on lodging, dining, communication, and transit.

2. Choose a hotel by location.

Pick your activities first, then find a hotel room nearby. "I'll see people booking cheaper rooms far from all the action," Axline says. "Then they spend more time and money just getting back and forth."

3. Use public transit.

Save the stress of negotiating traffic and parking by taking public transit. If you research subway, bus, and train routes, Axline says, "you'll have a much easier time getting around."

4. Divide and conquer.

The truth is, you can't see everything, so pick the sights that most interest you, and explore everything in the same neighborhood at once.

5. Hire a local guide.

No one knows a place like someone who lives there. AAA Travel counselors can help you arrange tours led by expert guides, who will give you an inside perspective on the city.