Things to know before visiting New York
New York is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Whether you can’t wait to see the Statue of Liberty, get lost in Central Park, or take advantage of the diverse food choices, there is something for everyone in the City That Never Sleeps. But there’s also a lot to think about before you travel to New York City, to ensure the best trip possible. Here, a list of things to know before visiting New York.
Pack for the Weather.
You can never tell what the weather will be like in New York, so check the forecast before your trip. The city is extra dreamy with all the lights and décor around the holidays, but if you’re not dressed properly, you won’t be able to appreciate the city coming to life. Shop tights, gloves, scarves, boots, and a warm winter coat to make sure you’re ready to face whatever the wind blows your way.
If you’re headed to NYC in spring, prepare yourself for the unpredictable weather that the city is known for. There will be days where you will be lucky enough to head out in short sleeves and others where you will need a sweater, raincoat, or even a down coat. Travel to New York and be prepared for brisk mornings, sunny afternoons, rain-soaked days, and snow in March and early April.
A Taxi Is Not Always the Fastest Option.
When traveling to other cities, taxis are often the quickest way to get around. When it comes to New York, though, the opposite is true. Think of those movies from your childhood where the lead always gets stuck in traffic as he or she is about to do something vitally important to the plot of the movie. Sad to say, this is not a stretch from reality.
Furthermore, taxis can be horrifically expensive. So, if you’re in a rush, ditch the cab and opt for the subway or maybe even walk to your destination. For example, if you find yourself wandering around Manhattan, going on foot may be the quickest way and should not be too difficult to navigate since this borough is mostly a grid (not the West Village or the Financial District, so download a good map for those areas). Confident on a bicycle? Citi Bike is another option for getting around.
Go Prepared to Eat. A lot.
No matter how many days you have planned to stay in the city, it will never be enough to sample all the cuisine. After all, NYC is one of the most diverse and interesting places in the world when it comes to gastronomy. From bagels and New York-style pizza to General Tso’s chicken and authentic Greek tzatziki, the food choices in New York City are overwhelming and delicious. While you may be in the US, your tastebuds can escape to a list of countries in a single day.
You Might Feel Like You’re Outside the US at times.
No one place or experience defines the city. Indeed, what makes New York so captivating is that it is inhabited by many people from all corners of the globe. As you stroll down the street, take a moment to listen and you’ll hear a variety of languages. You’ll likely detect French, Spanish, and Chinese, but you’ll also notice some local dialects from small villages, especially in the borough of Queens. A trip on the 7 train or “International Express” and you’ll feel like you’re riding around the globe.
Carry Hand Sanitizer, a Mask, and Your Vaccination Card.
New York may be regarded as exciting and glamorous, but that doesn’t mean it’s the cleanest city in the world. Keep hand sanitizer in your bag (or pocket) at all times and use it every time you get off the subway or bus, to keep germs at bay. Many businesses will require masks, and eating inside restaurants and Broadway shows will require proof of vaccination. Be sure to keep your vaccination card with you or a photo of it on your phone at all times.
Keep an Eye on Your Belongings.
Like most big cities, crime is something you need to be aware of. Try to blend in instead of choosing outfits that scream tourist. (Our guide how to dress here.) Wherever you are in the city, stay alert. Also, don’t leave your belongings unattended.
It’s Possible to See New York on a Budget.
Yes, it is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to enjoy what New York has to offer. If you do your research and plan ahead, you can score some great deals on both accommodations and activities. When you set your itinerary, plan your days accordingly to efficiently map out transportation and minimize transfers. Food also does not have to be limited to dining in restaurants. There is a lot of street food to sample, so don’t rule out the queues on some of those food carts you’ll see as you wander up and down the avenues. Or consider packing a picnic for Central Park or one of the other beautiful public parks in NYC.
But You Can’t Do Everything in One Trip.
Because NYC has so much to offer, it can be overwhelming to prioritize what to see and do. But one thing to know before visiting New York is that you can’t do it all in a single trip. Before you start planning, accept that NYC offers tons of attractions and they won’t all fit into your itinerary. Pick some key activities and a few places you want to go to, and save the rest for another time. This way, you can enjoy your trip to the fullest without worrying about checking items off a list. In New York City, it’s the spontaneous moments that tend to be the most memorable, so leave time for those.
New York is often called the “center of the universe,” and New Yorkers like to think their city is just that. There are hundreds of things to discover in New York City, so have a great trip!