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By Katy Harrison

The biggest complaint I hear about traveling to New York is the difficulty of getting around. Traffic is regularly gridlocked, cabs are pricey and often hard to come by, and the subway might as well be a hieroglyph in its vast, sprawling interconnectedness. What seems like a daunting, impossible form of transportation to the untrained commuter, however, is among the most functional mass transit systems in the world, rivaling even the LondonTube in its ability to rapidly transport commuters between distant boroughs.

Part of what makes the New York subway system so accessible – and confusing – is its double-digit number of lines and the multiple street entrances spanning about six blocks that lead down to each station. For regular users, the subway provides numerous accessible options that make each journey quick and easy, but attempting to brave the chaos can cripple even the most travel-savvy out-of-towner. Thanks to one of my favorite travel apps, though, I can now make my way through the city like a local, and so can you.

HopStop makes commuting easy in nearly every city with a mass transit system in North America, although I find it most useful in navigating the labyrinth created by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. This free app lets you map from your current location to your destination, providing walking directions to the nearest subway entrance, rail line instructions complete with possible service interruptions and alternative route options, and instructions for exiting the subway system with walking directions to your final destination. Providing details about the time each route will take, you can plan each step of your next trip to New York as you go, arriving on time and in the style of a local New Yorker without fighting traffic or fighting for a cab.