Unsafe, smelly, rude, chaotic and expensive are all words you’d hear people use when referring to New York City and New Yorkers. UNFOUNDED and rather disrespectful for the ‘most’ part, as I found out last weekend when I went #Gallivanting though four of the five boroughs which makes up New York City. I missed out on the Bronx (and Harlem), but that may have been done so purposely so I’d have another reason to plan another jaunt very soon.
Hopefully you’ve read my 12 Tips For Surviving A Megabus Journey Like A Pro and enjoyed the two part video series I did on the YouTube channel (see below). As a follow up, I though I’d share my 12 tips for making the most of your trip to New York city, if it’s your first time.
- Plan ahead! I didn’t as it was a business / pleasure trip and my sightseeing etc was during the free time I had, so everything we did was very impulsive. Make sure to take note of everything you’d like to see/experience and plan it within your schedule.
- NO need to rent a car. Like housing in NY, parking can be very expensive and limited. Plus you probably don’t need the stress if you’re not familiar with driving in such a large and busy city.
- Use public transport and get the MTA MetroCard which can be used for both subways and buses. The service is pretty reliable and I believe there’s 24hr service.
- I’d recommend getting a Subway/Bus App for your phone as the system can be a bit confusing. There’s free WiFi at most stations (some public parks too).
- Learn the difference between express (only certain stops) and local trains. And know that routes can change according to public holidays and the weekend.
- WAIT! I was heading into an empty subway car when my brother told me NO! If you see an empty car it usually means the air conditioning is not working and can be quite stifling during the summer months.
- I soon learned… that you should not waste your money on an expensive boat cruise that goes past the Statue of Liberty. Simply take the Staten Island Ferry, which is totally free and goes past most of the same sights. When taking the Ferry, you’ll want to be on the right side of the boat (upper level) for best views.
- Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll find that you’ll be doing a lot of walking (according to the app on my phone we clocked 22 km one of the days). Even though I’m not a runner, when we hit Central Park the urge to ‘run’ was real.
- Be PREPARED for crowds and people dressed (and not dressed) in costumes ready to charm the $$ out of your wallet, when you visit Times Square, especially at night.
- Don’t be afraid to wander. I had reservations about NY being unsafe and to be quite honest, I never felt in any danger during my entire trip. That said, be a smart tourist as you would in any city.
- World On A Menu! I LOVE food and like Toronto and my hometown of Hamilton, NY is certainly a culinary delight! You can unquestionably dine the world in the Big Apple.
- While Manhattan is what most people think when they think of New York City, I’d recommend making time to visit the other four boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx). Not only do they have their own unique charms, it was refreshing to see the different social classes and foreign cultures in harmony and get a feel for the engine of New York. Brooklyn and Queens welcomed me as their long lost son and for a brief second I felt at home. I could hear familiar ‘island’ accents, smell alluring scents coming from the kitchens of many restaurants and as cars drove by with soca, reggae and zouk booming out of their windows, I smiled!
See you again soon New York… I’m captivated!