No, I’m not an expert on NYC traveling but I did learn a few things when I was there recently. Here’s a brief guide for students (or anyone, really) planning to visit New York.
Photo by Paphio.
- Always have your camera on hand. Keeping it on at all times will drain the battery, but always keep it close. You never know when The Naked Cowboy will pass by.
- This city wasn’t built for claustrophobics. A lot of boutiques are tiny and often have lots of people in them. We walked through Rockefeller Center and Times Square and we had to just hold onto one another to avoid losing each other in the crowd. It was a little scary, especially for a vertically-challenged person like me. Not cool.
- Don’t be afraid of taking taxi cabs. As long as you stick with official NYC Taxis (they all have the same logo on the side), you’ll be fine. I was actually surprised at how cheap it was to take a taxi from practically one end of Manhattan to the other. Don’t forget to tip your driver!
- Visit Central Park. No matter what else you have planned, make some room to visit Central Park. It’s incredible. Plus, I enjoyed having a break from honking cars and tall buildings all around me.
- If you’re going to be walking all day, avoid buying a bunch of stuff early in the morning. I started one day by purchasing a pair of shoes, a large bobblehead figure for my mom and three Wizard of Oz movie merchandise items for myself. I ended the day with two aching arms.
- Even though it’s generally easy to navigate the city, keep a good map on hand. Try to get one that has every street and popular tourist sights labeled.
- From what my group experienced, there seems to be 2 types of restaurants in Manhattan: fast food and super expensive (on a student’s bank account, especially). Students on tight budgets might have to deal with fast food- but be sure to treat yourself with a nice sit-down restaurant at least a couple times. (Your digestive system will thank you for it.)
- Travel with like-minded people, especially if your schedule is tight. If you’re not really into fashion, avoid traveling with shopaholics. NYC is heaven for a shopaholic, so be nice to the museum nerds in your group.
- Keep an eye on your purse or bookbag as much as possible. Pickpockets love tourists as they are such easy targets.
- Have some sort of plan before you head to the city. Have a list of what you’d like to see, where it’s located, how to get there and how much it costs to do it. Some of the best stores we went into were ones we just came across while walking somewhere else.
- Cross the street when everyone else does. I read on a “Manhattan Survival Guide” that tourists should wait for the walk signs before crossing the street, even though many people will be jay-walking. This was very unhelpful. Just cross everyone else does. Otherwise, you’ll just piss people off by being in their way.
- Don’t be scared. Yes, New York is big, crowded and, at times, intimidating but millions of tourists go there every year and I never felt unsafe once while I was there. If you just relax, pay attention to where you’re going and have fun, NYC is an amazing place with something in it for everyone.