Do’s and Don’ts for Your First Trip to New York City

Do’s and Don’ts for Your First Trip to New York City

For many people, visiting New York City is up at the top of their travel bucket list. Perhaps you are fascinated by the bright lights, the iconic Broadway, and all the amazing things to see and do in the Big Apple. But for many people who visit NYC for the first time, it’s not uncommon to have no idea what you’re doing. Getting your bearings can be difficult, particularly if you’re not used to city life. I have put together some top tips for visiting New York for the first time, whether you want to learn more about saving money, getting around or finding the best things to do.

Avoid the Tourist Traps:
Times Square and Rockefeller Centre May be iconic, but avoid staying here as they are also massive tourist traps. Sure, go and visit them and take a picture for your Instagram feed - the giant ice rink or the giant, flashing billboards at Times Square make ideal backdrops - but staying here is bound to cost you more than anywhere else in the city. Explore less touristy areas if you want to find out more about what the city has to offer.

Get a City Pass:
If you’re planning on staying in New York for a few days and want to see as much as you can while getting the best value for money, then getting a Citypass is a great idea. You can sign up for yours and have it delivered to your home in time for your trip. And the pass will give you access to most of the main attractions in the city, including the 9/11 Memorial, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and much more.

Take Advice from the Locals:
When it comes to finding places to eat, then the best people to ask are the locals - New Yorkers are bound to know where to avoid, and where to find the best food at reasonable prices. Little Italy, for example, might be raved about outside of the city but in reality, according to the locals, it’s nothing more than a couple of streets lined with expensive souvenir shops and other costly tourist traps, plus a couple of restaurants selling mediocre Italian food. If you want to taste the best Italian food in NYC, then head to Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, where there are scrumptious pizza, cannolis and rice balls on offer from the various Italian shops and street food carts lining the street.

Research the Subway:
The NY subway is one of the best ways to get around the city, so it’s no surprise that it’s busy pretty much all the time. So, before you go, the best thing to do is do some research on the subway so that you know what you are doing - this will save you getting confused and frustrated and help you stay out of the way of others as you get around the city. One of the fastest ways to annoy New Yorkers is by blocking the turnstiles, stairways or the entrance to the train - so keep it moving. And, make sure that you know how to use your MetroCard and have it ready to swipe when using the subway. And while it might seem tempting, don’t get in an empty subway car - your nose will thank you for it.

Understand the Walking Etiquette:
Walking is one of the primary ways of getting around the Big Apple, so it’s no surprise that many refer to the sidewalk in NYC as the highway or freeway. It’s important that you keep the traffic moving when walking in New York, otherwise, you could become an obstacle to others fairly quickly. Make sure that you don’t end up causing a sidewalk traffic jam. If you need to stop to figure out directions, take in the sights around you, or if you’re strolling along slowly, then it’s best to keep to the side so that others can easily get past you.

Avoid Driving:
There’s really no reason to drive in NYC, with most attractions in walking distance and the subway covering pretty much everywhere you might want to visit in the city. As tempting as it might seem to hire a car when you arrive at the airport, you’ll quickly regret it as the traffic is horrendous and there’s nowhere to park. The same goes for taxis - you might want to ride in an iconic yellow NYC taxi, but the truth is that the experience most likely won’t be the same as what you are used to seeing in movies and TV shows. Typically, NYC taxis are fairly pricey compared to other ways of getting around the city, and thanks to the traffic, it’s usually faster to get to your destination on foot.

Dress Comfortably:
Chances are you’ll be spending a lot of time walking around the city, so make sure that you are dressed comfortably. And, since you’re likely to be walking outside a lot, then make sure that you are dressed for the weather. It can get fairly cold in NYC during the winter, so if you’re visiting at this time of year, make sure to wrap up in a warm coat, hat, scarf and gloves. If you want to fit in, then dress comfortably but stylish - and make sure that you’re wearing a pair of comfortable shoes that can take all the walking you’re going to do. Boots, flats, loafers, oxfords or All-Stars are usually a better option than standard sneakers. And, try to avoid wearing your souvenirs in public - your ‘I Heart NY’ sweater will look a lot cooler outside of the city.

Avoid Chain Restaurants:
New York is full of chain or themed restaurants, but these aren’t the best places to spend your money. The Big Apple is home to hundreds of incredible, independent restaurants and diners that aren’t Red Lobster or Olive Garden, so unless you’re coming from a completely different country and have never eaten at any of these places before, then you won’t regret skipping them in favour of something new. Just outside of Times Square, Hell’s Kitchen has an amazing range of food and drink on offer, and if you enjoy curry then Little India is the place to be.

Save Money Getting There:
Last but not least, there are many ways to save money on getting to your NYC destination. If you are flying, then check out the flights to New York on a site like Fly Porter – found at Porter Airlines offer fast check-in, easy gate access and a VIP service all at reasonable prices.
Keep your eye out for the best deals. You can also save money on your flight by flying into a smaller New York airport rather than the main hub, JFK. And, don’t forget to check out times for trains into the city from the airport so that you can save on a pricey cab ride - getting a cab after landing could set you back upwards of $30.

If you’re planning to visit New York for the first time, then have fun! There’s so much to see and do, so keep this handy guide with you to make sure that you are able to make the most of your trip.