I’m going to New York City in June, so I’ve been exploring online to learn as much as I can about how to approach a first-time trip there. I’ll have an expert guide for most of the tour, so I’m not so concerned with navigating the metro or knowing what I’m looking at when I see it. And frankly, some of the tips I’ve seen I’ll be a bit powerless to implement since they involve not looking like a tourist. I’ll be traveling with the specific purpose of researching the many NYC attractions we send groups to for New York City educational student tours, so sticking out will I’m afraid be an inevitable part of my experience.
Still, I’ve seen some great tips, and I’m reproducing some of them here. You’ll probably thank me – especially when you get through your own first New York City tour without annoying even one authentic New Yorker!
Don’t Be Obvious – If you want to annoy a New Yorker, stand out as an obvious tourist. Wear a tropical shirt, sling a camera around your neck, gaze and point, look up a lot and drop your jaw…you get the idea. And along these lines:
Don’t Get in the Way. Apparently people are on the move in NYC, and they’re on the move in a crowd. If you stand still in the midst of them, they get annoyed. Even if you don’t mind standing out as a tourist, try not to stand out as inconsiderate. When you see a photo op you just have to grab, step outside of the moving stream of people rushing to or from work/lunch, etc. Also, apparently escalators and moving walkways? Stick to the right side if you just want to enjoy the ride. People on the left are moving.
Do Consider Attractions Off-the-Beaten-Path. This might be a hard one if it’s your first trip and you think it might be your last. In that case, you’re going to want to hit the biggies – Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and the Met (for starters). But if you can, consider some quiet corners of Central Park, the High Line Park (made on an abandoned, elevated railway), the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, or other out-of-the-way spots where you can truly experience the City and what makes it great without the long lines and more tourist-heavy experiences of the more famous attractions.
Wear Comfortable Shoes – If you’re like me, you hesitate stepping foot on these streets at all for fear you’ll be immediately judged for your fashion sense or lack thereof. Instead of trying to imitate Carrie Bradshaw, think comfort. No one will notice if you wear jeans, a black or solid t-shirt and walking shoes. They will definitely notice if you’re hobbling around, blistered, in high heels from attraction to attraction.
WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES – Seriously, even if you carry heels or something dressy in your bag, wear something you can walk in, People. Something you can walk in for hours.
Over-the-Shoulder It. Similarly to the shoes thing, don’t try and haul a giant bag around or anything that can’t be strapped around your neck and over your chest. I know you’ll want a few things with you on the journey, but you’ll be grateful you went hands-free too – and as lightweight as possible.
Chill. I don’t know about you, but I’m determined to take in every moment of the experience without stressing too much over what I did or didn’t see. If you wear yourself completely out, you won’t really enjoy being there. Take in what you can, and really take it in. Spend as long as you need to at each amazing attraction. Make sure you eat and stay hydrated. And be there. If you can manage that, you’ll definitely be glad that you did.
*Watch for Part II when I return!