Advice for a First-Time Trip to New York City

Pexels Image As I mentioned a few posts ago, we're going to New York this year - and it will be my first visit! But from what I...

As I mentioned a few posts ago, we're going to New York this year - and it will be my first visit! But from what I've heard, New York isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s all hustle and bustle; a fast moving city that has no time for anybody who’s going to mess around or try to slow them down. It can feel like being on a completely different planet, and it might not be for everyone, but it's a bucket list item and everyone should go once in their lifetime, I think.

So, with that in mind - here is the advice I was given on my first trip to NYC.

Leave Plenty Of Time to Make It Through the Lines

Depending on what part of New York City you're in, there are likely going to be lines miles long. Manhattan is always full of people - literally every single tourist attraction is packed, so if traveling to Manhattan, make sure you plan for a ton of extra time.

Don’t Expect Everybody to Be Super Polite and Helpful

Not everybody is going to be helpful in New York, and this is going to absolutely break my little southern heart. The service standard isn’t all that high, so just be prepared when asking for things like directions and advice. That being said, asking employees that work at your hotel for advice might be a good idea.

Know What’s Really Worth It and What’s a Waste of Time

Some things you might just want to do because everybody goes on about them - like New Year’s Eve in Times Square (though we'll be going during the summer). Actually, many people who do go say that it’s a bit of a let down. Make sure you do your research so you can figure out what’s really worth it and what’s a waste of time. You can take a look at an event calendar for New York to help you work out what to do and what not to do.

Don’t Mess Around on the Sidewalk

Whatever you do, for the love of dogs, don’t randomly stop on the sidewalk. Know where you’re going, and even if you don’t, stride with purpose.

Be Careful of ‘Scams’

You might think a couple of pictures with your favorite Disney Characters will be a laugh and free - after all, they’re free at Disney! But no, they will expect a tip. Then there are people who seem really helpful, giving directions and advice, and then want money. Be aware. Yikes!

Know Where to Find a Toilet

Oftentimes, you have to buy something if you want a staff member to give you the key to use a toilet. If you don’t want to waste money on frequent toilet visits, the nearest Macy’s is also a good bet, but be ready for long lines.

Consider Staying in Brooklyn or Long Island City

Manhattan can be very expensive, so consider staying in Brooklyn or Long Island city to save some money.

Go to Mcdonalds - for the Wi-fi

When on a trip, we don't typically plan to go to chain restaurants, but it’s unusual to find free wi-fi in New York. If you need it, head to Mcdonalds!

Have you been to NYC? What advice would you give me?

*This is a collaborative post.

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  1. Some advice from an NYC local:

    - NYC subways are a nightmare on a good day, so the maps in the subway stations aren't always accurate. New Yorkers are good about pointing tourists in the right direction - don't be afraid to ask somebody on how to get from Point A to Point B - better safe than lost!

    - staying in another borough is a great way to save money, but be aware that sometimes, subways (especially on the weekends) make it tough to get to and from Manhattan. When the subways are undergoing weekend construction, service is often limited.

    - bookstores have - by far - the best public restrooms in the city, so if you need to go, find your nearest Barnes & Noble!

    - instead of going to the top of the Empire State Building (which usually has long, long lines), think about going to the top of Rockefeller Center ("Top of the Rock"). Views are just as amazing and lines are usually shorter!

    Have fun on your trip! :)

    1. This is such a helpful comment and I truly appreciate it so much! Thanks for taking the time to share your input, especially as a local.

      Honestly, I probably won't go up to any of the high observation areas anyways, but I have heard really fantastic things about Top of the Rock. And once I go into a bookstore, it'll be hard to get me out of there. Lol.

  2. Oh, I'm so excited for you! I love New York & went into the city regularly when I lived in D.C. & later in North Jersey. My office is there, so I still go in sometimes, but only about once a year. I miss it.

    A few pieces of advice to complement these & the other comment here already:

    - I would second the boroughs comment. Staying in Brooklyn is a good idea, because it's fun & huge & Brooklyn is a great place to visit unto itself - but if what you really want is to see/explore Manhattan, I would try to stay in Manhattan, price be damned, because it can be difficult & TIMELY to get into the city from other boroughs. Factor in the fact that sometimes there's line work on weekends, & you could end up totally screwed.

    - If you're taking a car, A) don't, but B) if you must, use an app like ParkWhiz or SpotHero to find the best deals. Donnn't drive around trying to figure it out yourself!

    - Don't be afraid to ask people for directions - but ask the RIGHT people. Never stop someone who seems like they're on the go, & don't stop on the sidewalk & block traffic while you try to figure things out. Ask that dude who's reading a book on your train car, or the friendly millennials chatting it the subway station. New Yorkers have a bad rep for being mean, but they're just often in a hurry; pick the ones who aren't, & they're almost always happy to help!

    - Top of the Rock has just as good a view of the city without as much of the hype & pandemonium of the Empire State Building.

    - Times Square is overwhelming & terrible, but it's also really fun. Go once, take it all in, & then avoid it like the plague for the rest of forever.

    - Use an app like Rockaloo or Sit or Squat to find good restrooms near you. Keep quarters on you for McDonald's bathrooms & the like.

    - Definitely use apps to navigate the subway, even if you're just using the public transportation option on Google Maps (which is very accurate & helpful, & even includes the next train departure times, tells you where to get off, etc). It can be tough to try to figure out all of the navigation when you're on the go, especially using the paper maps on the trains or in the subway stations, so mapping it out online & having it ready - which will also factors in delays & closings - is the way to go. Most of them will work ON the subway, as well, even when you don't have wifi.


    1. Thank you so much, Kate. I AM SO EXCITED! I only plan to do Times Square once anyways, because it's probably going to be really overwhelming for me anyways. So thanks for that reinforced idea.