First Time Foot Traveler Guide

The ultimate guide to getting around by foot

Whether you walk to your final destination, between transportation options or as a form of recreation, walking is an inexpensive travel mode that offers incredible benefits to your health and the environment. 

Just two and a half hours of moderate-intensity walking each week can help improve bone strength and cardiovascular health, boost energy and mood, and decrease stress. That breaks down to just a little over 20 minutes each day of the week to reap the benefits!

Read on for an all-inclusive guide to help you plan your walking route, incorporate walking into your lifestyle, and reduce your carbon footprint by placing your footprints on the ground, one in front of the other!


Plan your route with Google Maps

Whether you plan to walk from point A to point B or use a mix of public transportation options between pounding the pavement, Google Maps can help you plan a pedestrian-friendly route:

First time foot traveler guide (Walk) - PLAN YOUR ROUTE

  • Enter your start and end point.
  • If you choose walking as your travel mode, it shows you route options and the estimated time of travel walking at a speed of 2.8 mph, making it easy to plan to be on time.
  • If you choose public transit, select your desired departure time. Google Maps shows you the fastest route options, including the time it will take to walk between stations if you have to transfer from bus to train, for example.

Plan your route with Pierce County trail maps

Explore walking paths for fun and exercise or plan them into your walking commute route with the Tacoma-Pierce County Walking Guide and additional trails map. Path highlights let you know if it intersects with popular destinations, such as Cheney Stadium or the Zoo, and inform each path's terrain, distance and surface so you know what to expect.

Designed for bikers but helpful to walkers and other wheelers, this Pierce County Bike Map shows paved paths in green for shared pedestrian paths that are secluded from motorized traffic and popular city destinations so you can easily plan your walking route around town.

Our favorite walking tips:

  • Change up your route: Not only does it help you get to know your city better, but science also suggests that novel experiences, such as changes to your routine walking path, increase happiness and creativity.
  • Join our walking challenge. Commit to walking with friends or co-workers to our favorite destinations. 
  • Plan to stay motivated: Track your steps to hit a daily goal to keep you encouraged and excited to continue walking.
  • Start small then build up: If you’re just starting out, start with shorter walks and gradually increase your distance. Short walking sessions of five to ten minutes throughout the day help you build your fitness and add up to your weekly goal.


First time foot traveler guide (Walk) - PREP FOR THE WALK

First things first — get yourself a comfortable pair of walking shoes! Even if you need to bring along a different pair to change into for work, using a good pair of walking shoes will absorb shock and keep your feet healthy. 

Next up, check the weather conditions and dress accordingly. Consider wearing layers so you can add or remove clothing as the weather changes, and bring along a waterproof poncho or umbrella if you think there might be rain. 

Be sure to take water with you so you can stay hydrated along your journey. 

If you’re planning to take the bus or train between steps, be sure you come prepared with money to pay your fare or your ORCA card.


Keep yourself safe by being aware of your surroundings and checking out these pedestrian laws and safety tips. Some essential tips to keep in mind:

First time foot traveler guide (Walk) - PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER

  • Follow traffic laws and signals
  • Use sidewalks
  • If no sidewalks, walk facing traffic
  • Yield to vehicles outside intersections
  • Use designated crosswalks

Along your journey, track your steps to know your progress and stay motivated! You can use the health app on your phone or an app like RunKeeper, which tracks your distance, speed, route and more!


For every trip you log into the RTP Trip Calendar you can see how much money you’re saving and be entered to win prizes!