There are many ways to get around when you’re on vacation, but nothing compares to wandering through a city on foot. Walking enables you to appreciate architecture, discover quaint shops, and wander through parks, gardens, and hidden bits of greenery. Not to mention it’s free!

Although walking is an easy way to get around, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any rules. Whether you’re walking down a busy New York City sidewalk or you’re exploring the English countryside on foot, there are some pedestrian rules you should follow to stay safe.

Make Eye Contact With Drivers

Getting into an accident is scary, but it’s even scarier when you’re a pedestrian because the likelihood of experiencing a serious injury or even death is greatly increased. Death is even more likely if you find yourself in a pedestrian accident with a truck, as 15 percent of all pedestrian deaths involved large vehicles.

You can’t control what drivers do behind the wheel, but you can make sure they see you. Before you cross the street, whether you’re at a crosswalk, a stop sign, or you’re trying to make a quick break across the street, make eye contact with the drivers on the road. If you see them and you can tell they can see you, you’re more likely to make it across the street without getting hit.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

Part of what makes walking around on vacation so much fun is the fact that you’re unfamiliar with your surroundings. However, others who call where you’re traveling home are likely to become annoyed with your behavior.

For example, if you’re texting and walking in an unfamiliar area, you’re more likely to block pedestrian traffic or find yourself running into a pole or another person. Keep your head up and stay off your phone. You will be able to take in everything that’s around you better, and you’re less likely to annoy others.

It’s especially important to be aware of your surroundings if you’re walking through a sketchy area, or if you’re walking at night. Pickpockets often choose victims based on who is the most distracted.

Follow Signs and Signals

It is important to follow signs and signals for pedestrians where you’re traveling. For example:

  • Wait for the walk light to cross
  • Always cross on a corner or a crosswalk
  • Never walk where pedestrians are prohibited

Following pedestrian signs is easier the closer you are to home. If you’re traveling in another country, you may want to do a little research before you get there. That way you aren’t faced with signs that you don’t recognize, and you don’t have to try and ask locals about them when they speak a different language.

Know Where You’re Going

There’s nothing wrong with wandering through a new town and exploring everything it has to offer, but aimless wandering is likely to annoy others around you. Not to mention, it can be dangerous. Stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to get your bearings or wandering slowly down a busy sidewalk will make it obvious that you’re not a local, and it makes you prone to accidents.

Do your best to know where you’re going by using a smartphone app to map your wanderings. That way you know how to get back to your hotel. If you want to take a leisurely stroll, choose a less busy road, and if you think you’re lost, step into a local coffee shop or restaurant to get your bearings instead of stopping in the middle of the sidewalk.

Know Which Side to Walk On

Do you know which side of the sidewalk to walk on? In the United States where traffic flows on the right side of the road, pedestrians are expected to walk on the right-hand side of the sidewalk. In Japan, you’ll find that most walk on the left-hand side, because that’s the way traffic flows, while those in Briton tend to wander all over the sidewalk. Knowing the rules and customs where you’re traveling is the best way to make sure you aren’t getting in the way.

If there isn’t a sidewalk, you should walk towards oncoming traffic. In the U.S., that means the left-hand side of the road, while in the UK, that means walking on the right-hand side of the road. That way you can see traffic coming at you.

Walking is one of the best ways to get around when you’re on vacation. Just make sure you make the most of walking by foot without annoying everyone around you by following these tips!