When you leave school you might have to travel independently to college or work and this might be something you haven’t had to do before. Travelling  on your own using a bus, train, tram, taxi  or even walking will increase your confidence and feeling of independence but it may make you feel anxious. Here are some practical tips and ideas to prepare you for travelling independently.

Choosing the Right Transport

Depending on where you live there are different options for travelling such as buses, trains, trams and subways. As part of this course you will find out what type of transport is the best for you to use.  This can depend on:

  • Where you live in Europe
  • If you live in a city, town or in a rural area. There are usually more options if you live in a city but they might be more busy and seem more complicated to use.
  • The cost: The cheapest option may not always be the best option.
  • How long the journey will take on a particular type of transport .

How reliable the service is ie is the bus always on time and is it a regular service?

Practice Using Transport

It’s a good idea to practice travelling independently before you leave school and start college or work. You can practice with a family member, a friend or someone else who is supporting you with preparing for leaving school eg Transition Officer or teacher. How long it will take to become confident is up to you and you shouldn’t feel under pressure to go it alone until you are ready.  It’s a good idea to start with short journeys and build up to longer and more complicated trips. For example you might want to start to walk to the local shops in your area, learning how to safely cross roads before building up to using public transport.

You may have already taken part in independent travel training in school or through another organisation you attend, if you haven’t ask in school if this is possible.Taking part in a travel training programme will give you a chance to learn and practice all the skills you need to travel safely and confidently on your own.

Useful skills to practice:

  • Reading bus/train timetables
  • Contacting your local taxi firm or community transport to make a booking.
  • Crossing different types of roads safely eg main roads using traffic lights and smaller side roads
  • Knowing how to use pedestrian crossings
  • Asking for help or directions
  • Going to your shops local on your own

Travel Safety

When you are out and about travelling independently you should:

  • Carry your keys in a zip pocket incase you lose your bag
  • Don’t use short cuts like waste ground or alleyways
  • Don’t use your mobile phone when walking or crossing roads
  • Don’t carry more money than you need
  • Keep your money in a purse/ wallet keep your purse /wallet in a safe place and out of sight

When you are preparing for a journey it’s mportant to go through a checklist:

  • Coat
  • Money
  • Mobile phone
  • Smartpass (discount travel if you are a student or have a disability)
  • Medical information-if you have a medical condition like epilepsy, diabetes or have severe allergies make sure you wear your medical alert at all times.

If you are travelling independently it is also important to be able to:

  • Know where to get on the bus/train
  • Give your personal details, your name address and telephone number in case of an emergency
  • Use a mobile phone, have it charged and credit on it and useful phone numbers stored on it
  • Be able to tell the time either on your mobile phone, digital watch or clockface
  • Know who to go to at college/work/placement if you are lost or sick
  • Have a name and phone number of an adult /parent/friend you can contact in case of an emergencies
  • Use local buses or taxis independently

Have a Plan B in case something unexpected happens eg the bus is late or gets diverted.

Planning your journey

Before you travel you need to plan your journey including:

  • How much it will a return journey cost
  • What number of bus do you need to catch
  • Where is the nearest bus stop/ train station and how long it will take to get there
  • Where to get off and back on again
  • Times of bus/ train
  • Know how to ask for directions if you get lost
  • Know what to do if there’s a problem eg the bus or train is delayed or breaks down.

It can take a while to learn to travel independently but when you plan and practice the route you will soon be able to do it everyday. As part of this course you will have the opportunity to plan routes to where you plan to go when you leave school.