Living in New York means that we have seen our fair share of tourists. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, what time of day, what hour of the work week, wherever we are, there is likely to be a swarm of people visiting or vacationing in this crazy place that we’ve always called home.
Don’t get us wrong, we actually don’t hate tourists the way you might think. Michelle and I love meeting people from all over the world. We’re constantly trying to find where the Brits, Scandinavians or Californians are hiding out when they come to visit because it means that we get to experience our city in the eyes of an outsider, something we will never be able to do naturally. Sure, lots of New Yorkers think the worst of tourists, but since Michelle and I both travel so much, we know what it’s like to be the American tourist abroad and would never want to be treated with bitterness or resentment. In turn, we try not to do the same when others come into our home.
Since a huge part of our life revolves around trying to maneuver around the tourists so that we can go about our daily lives mostly unhinged, we figured we might as well try and help those planning adventures to New York and provide them with the DON’Ts you do while here. That way, we all win.
1. Stop in the middle of the sidewalk.
This is really frustrating if you do, especially since there are dozens of other people walking behind and in front of you. If you realize you’re lost or going the wrong way, step aside and away from the pedestrian traffic. Especially if you don’t want to be pushed or insulted, that is.
2. Enter the subway trains or buses without letting people get off first.
If you’re trying to push your way in before people have made there way out, you’ll likely to collide with someone else. Patience is a virtue, so best to respect the unwritten etiquette of the MTA.
3. Crowd the doors of the subway or bus.
There is plenty of room in between the seats, so make your way as close to the inside the space as possible. Crowding the doors doesn’t really do anything except make the train feel more crowded and late. Since everyone in the city is already in a rush, might be best that you don’t interfere with that timing. 😉
4. Stand on the left.
While this isn’t as strict a policy as it is in London, I’m going to mention it so that maybe it can catch on in NYC. When on the stairs or escalator, there are two sides for a reason. The left is for the speedy people, while the right is for the leisurely people (like me), who want to take their sweet time exiting the platform.
5. Not have your MetroCard ready to swipe when utilizing public transit.
Nothing worse than needing to catch your train only to be stopped by someone fumbling in their bag to find their MetroCard. Have that bad boy ready at least twenty steps before making your way to the subway turnstile. It’ll save us all.
6. Expect to hail a taxi by yelling “TAXI” (and if the light on top is off).
Very simple – if the light on the top of the taxi is lit, it means it’s available. If it’s off, it means it’s occupied. Don’t get upset at peak taxi hours if you can’t get a cab, either. That’s just the nature of the city beast…which brings me to my next point.
7. Take a taxi at all.
I personally never take them, unless I have to, especially not in Manhattan where the charges are surged. The subway system in New York might not be the cleanest, but it runs 24 hours, with so many lines and systems. Most tourist attractions can be accessed via multiple lines, too. Traffic in New York is killer, so might as well save time and get to your destination whilst underground anyway.
8. Visit Times Square.
If it’s your first time in the city, make this a quick visit and cross it off your to-do list forever. Times Square is a tourists’ paradise, but for reasons unknown to a New Yorker. Sure, it’s where the NYE Ball drops and sure, there’s a lot of lights and ads, but that’s about it. Make this trip a quick one and move on. There’s so much more that the city offers instead!
9. Pay the museums’ “entrance price.”
The prices listed are not compulsory to pay at some museums (this excludes special exhibitions and galleries). These are simply “suggested donations.” I once entered the Natural History Museum by paying $3. THREE DOLLARS. The great thing is, the museum personnel can’t say no or not let you in because of how much you decide to spend. New York is already expensive as it is, so don’t pay for something if you don’t have to. After all, “art is for the people.”
10. Not take advantage of the wonderful, crazy city you’re in.
Flaws aside, New York is a beautiful, riveting, one-of-a-kind kind of city. There is so much to do and see here outside of what the travel guides, books and tours tell you. What is most amazing is that lots of the city is very easy to navigate and walking, especially in the spring and summer, is a great way to get a taste of everything it has to offer. You can stay here a few days, a couple of weeks, or spend your lifetime here and you’ll still find new things to do, places to see and people to meet. Michelle and I still are even having two+ decades of our lives here. Take advantage of everything, say yes (within reason) to every opportunity, find what the locals do and partake in it with them, visit unchartered territories and new boroughs, try foods you’ve never heard of before and do whatever you can to get out of your comfort zone. This city never sleeps, and whilst here, you definitely shouldn’t either.
So with all that said, New York, we will always love you.