New York City is such a great place to visit year-round. So many people plan their trip to NYC with the understanding that it is simply a slightly larger version of Toronto. Here in Toronto we are so used to having things a certain way. If you want to be a successful traveller in NYC, forget everything you think you know. It is time to learn the truth.
1. You should use the subway!
Travellers are often so afraid to use the NYC subway system. There are a lot of rumours swirling around that it is too difficult or not worth it to learn on a quick trip. However in my opinion, the subway is probably one of the very fastest and most inexpensive ways to get around. If you didn't have time to take a look at the map ahead, simply ask around. Don't be scared to double check you are about to board the right car.
But beware... never enter an empty subway car in NYC. There is always a reason why it is empty. Please trust me on this one!
2. Using bathrooms...
Much like downtown Toronto, it is really challenging to find a public bathroom in New York City. It is especially difficult to find one that is clean and in service. My hugest tip is looking to hotels and restaurants. I'm not proud of this but when in doubt I will walk into a hotel with the full confidence that a guest staying there would have, and proceed to find a washroom. As well, you can try this at restaurants. Instead of asking for a table when you walk in, brush by the host while looking at your phone, pretending to meet a friend to use the bathroom is a worthwhile acting job when in Manhattan. If all else fails, look to Starbucks, and plan ahead if you know what area you will be touring.
3. Ask NYC 311!
If you have a question about absolutely anything related to travels, attractions, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, look no further than NYC 311. Simply dial 311 wile in NYC and you will connect to someone who can answer any of your questions. It is free and you can call or use their mobile app as much as you like!
4. Watch your step!
NYC sidewalks may pose some risks. Keeping a careful eye on the ground can prevent you from stepping in any number of gross things, including bird droppings, rats, spills and splats, etc. While walking you will see metal grates and cellar doors. Don’t walk over them. Just don't. I don't know why but there are lots of horror stories to support this advice.
5. Only eat at 'A' restaurants
In order to protect people from awful dining experiences, the city has a top-notch rating system that is made clear as day to customers. If you do not see a big letter “A” posted outside of the restaurant, do not eat there. A non-A rating means that they do not have a clean kitchen and/or the restaurant received infractions on their cleanliness rating for something. You don't have to dig deep into the health board website to decide if someplace is clean, just check the door or window on the way in.
To wrap things up, I think the most important tip is to plan ahead as much as possible and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Use caution when out at night and avoid walking alone at all costs. Sexual harassment can be a huge problem if you are a female traveller and although this is a subject for an entirely different blog post on its own, use caution in all settings regardless of gender. Most importantly, have a great trip!