Over the last decade I have traveled on public busses all over the world from China to Colombia, Israel to Italy and during that time, I have learned a great deal about how to survive public transport abroad. I was fortunate enough to have a conversation recently with Boris Blanche, Managing Director of the International Road Transport Union, about the way in which infrastructure has changed around the world. During that talk we were chatting about my adventures on public transport, and some of the survival tips which I’ve learned along the way. I wanted to share this tips with you, in case you have been scared about taking public busses when you have been abroad.

Research For Safety

The first thing that I suggest you do before you even consider getting on a bus, is to do some research online about the safety of the various busses where you are. The reason for this, especially in the big cities, is that there are often a few different types of busses, some safe, some not. For example when I first went to Mexico City, I was mugged whilst sitting what they call the Microbus, after that experience I refused to get on a bus in the city again. It was quickly pointed out  to me however, that these were the most dangerous busses in the city, and the rest were very safe. Had I researched online first, I would have found this information out for myself.


Methods of payments change greatly from bus to bus, and city to city. In some cases like Edinburgh you may need the exact change, the Metrobus in Mexico City will only take a bus card which has been pre-paid, and in other places you may be able to pay in any way that you like, or even have to pass your money down through the bus. The key to avoiding problems on busses is to understand how to pay, and appear like you know what you are doing. The best way to find this information out is to ask someone that you can trust to tell you the truth, someone like a waiter, a receptionist or even a friend that lives locally. Knowledge is power and when it comes to riding the bus, it could keep you away from danger.

Getting Off

One of the most challenging parts of riding public busses is not so much getting on, but knowing where to get off. In some cases you can speak to the bus driver and let them know what your destination is, they can then give you a shout as you get closer. If the bus is busy however, this is rarely possible and so what I usually do is use my maps application my phone. Even if you don’t have any data in the city that you are in, you can still use the GPS in your phone, to track your movements, and see how close you are to your destination.