7 Strategies for Surviving in New York City

Winter or summer, rain or shine — New York City is a perennially popular destination for travelers. You may have heard the vicious rumor about New Yorkers being a surly bunch with a bad attitude towards tourists. As a native New Yorker, I can say with honesty that I welcome tourists with open arms and am proud to show off what, in my opinion, the greatest city in the world has to offer. I am happy to help you in any way I can. Unless of course, I need to be someplace and you get in my way.

What’s a tourist to do? New York and New Yorkers move fast, and it’s normal to feel uneasy, overwhelmed or downright frightened at the pace. Read on for our seven strategies for surviving the concrete jungle — and get even more out of your trip to the Big Apple.

1. Get on at the front of the bus and get off in the back. This is a huge time saver for the people trying to board the bus, the people already onboard and the people waiting at the next stop.

2. If you don’t plan on walking up the escalator, move to the right. And if you are carrying a giant bag, take it off your arm or back and rest it in front of you so people can get by.

3. Move to the middle of the subway car — you will have ample time to get off at your stop. Promise.

4. Never, under any circumstances, walk more than two people across on the sidewalks. While you take in your surroundings, others are trying to get where they need to be and want to be able to pass you.

5. When you suddenly are unsure of your whereabouts and need to consult with your travel companions, move to the side rather than standing in the middle of the sidewalk while you discuss. This avoids blocking the sidewalk and the inevitable dirty looks that result.

6. When you get to the subway turnstile or on the bus, have your MetroCard in hand and ready to swipe. Nothing is more infuriating than missing your train because someone decided to wait until they were at the turnstile to begin searching their pockets/purse/suitcase for their MetroCard.

7. If, for some reason, you decide to drive in New York City, leave ample room between you and the car in front of you in traffic. This way, if you get stuck at a red light, you won’t block the intersection or the crosswalk.

Armed with these tips and your own common sense, your trip to New York City will be a great success.

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–written by Genevieve S. Brown


By Sarah Schlichter

Deputy Executive Editor Sarah Schlichter's idea of a perfect trip includes spotting exotic animals, hiking through pristine landscapes, exploring new neighborhoods on foot, and soaking up as much art as she can. She often attempts to recreate recipes from her international travels after she gets home (which has twice resulted in accidental kitchen fires—no humans or animals were harmed).

Sarah joined the SmarterTravel team in 2017 after more than a decade at the helm of Sarah's practical travel advice has been featured in dozens of news outlets including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Budget Travel, and Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A journal. Even years later, reading my notes from a trip can bring back incredibly vivid memories."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Road tripping and hiking through the rugged mountains of Patagonia."

Travel Motto: "'To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.'—Freya Stark"

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle. I get restless on long flights and like to be able to move around without disturbing anyone else."

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