Learn from others mistakes and know-how to avoid some of New York City’s common tourist pitfalls so you can be sure to have the very best trip to New York City possible!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Directions
It can be really easy to get lost in New York City — or walk several blocks in the wrong direction before you realize you’ve gone the wrong way. Take solace in the fact that this is true even for people who have lived here a long time, so don’t expect to instantly know exactly where you are and never get lost or turned around.
The good news is that you’re rarely alone in New York City, and New Yorkers are much more friendly that you think.
Although we’re not known for saying hi on the street or making eye contact while walking around, that’s really just how you cope with living in a city with over 8 million other people. If you’re lost or confused, most of us would be happy to help you — just ask. Folks pushing baby strollers and walking dogs are great people to ask, because they likely live near by, but most people will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
Don’t Stand in the Middle of the Sidewalk
One of the things New Yorkers find most aggravating about living in such a popular tourist destination is groups of visitors blocking the sidewalk. We don’t mind that you want to get your bearings or stare up at our fantastic skyscrapers or even people watch, but please step to the side so that folks trying to get to work, home or elsewhere can use the sidewalk without having to maneuver around you and your traveling companions.
Don’t Lean on the Subway Poles
If you’re riding the subway and lean on one of the poles instead of holding it with your hand, you make it so no one else can hold onto it. Use your hand to hold onto the pole and make room for others to grab on so they don’t get hurt. I know you don’t want to get the germs on your hands, but that’s what hand sanitizer is for (you have some in your bag, right?) and I don’t want to fall over when the train is moving because you’re hogging the pole.
Don’t Try To Skip Your Fare in the Subway
It might seem tempting to jump over the turnstiles at the subway entrance — especially in the stations where there’s no one stationed at the booth — but don’t do it. The fine for fare jumping is $100, so it’s not worth saving $2.75. There have even been some fare-jumpers who have found themselves spending the night in jail: despite the free accommodations, it would be no way to spend a night of your vacation.
Don’t Fall Victim To A Scam
Although most New Yorkers are nice and helpful (see #1) there are always folks looking to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists (and locals!)
One common scam is that a well-dressed man will approach you and tell you that he lost his wallet (or left it in his office) and he needs money for the train home. Just because he’s dressed in a fancy suit doesn’t mean he’s not trying to take advantage of you!
Playing shell and card games on the street is basically giving away your money — even if someone appears to be winning, most of the time that person is in on the scam.
Use common sense and always know where your wallet is, particularly when you’re in a crowded situation.
Don’t Mistake Times Square for the Real New York
Sure, Times Square is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. And millions of visitors every year agree. The neighborhood is actually a great home base for visitors who want to see Broadway shows and has lots of hotels and great transportation, but it’s just one neighborhood of many in New York City and it’s a shame for your entire NYC experience to happen there.
Make sure your visit to New York City includes exploring some other areas of town — the easy-to-get-lost-in streets of Greenwich Village are a great place to spend an afternoon exploring, the Upper West Side is both historic and residential (& home to some great museums as well!) or even head to Brooklyn for a taste of where many New Yorkers (including myself!) actually live.