11 common mistakes tourists make when visiting NYC for the first time

1. Not wearing comfortable shoes

You will walk in New York City…a lot. Residents of the city walk an average of six to ten miles a day. You, as a tourist may walk more than that depending on how much you want to see in a day. Your shoes should be comfortable, sturdy, and ready for a few miles per day.

2. Not knowing know to navigate public transportation

You don’t need to be a pro, but it’s important to understand how the Metro Subway system works. Trains come every few minutes during the day and rush hours.

First, pick the train you need to take. Next, know where the train is headed. The train will say where it’s going (e.g. a train heading north from southern Manhattan will say “Inwood“). Follow the stops and exit at your desired location. This may be an oversimplification, but it’s the gist of how to navigate the Subways. Ask an employee or someone nearby if you need help.

TIP: Use the website (and app) CityMapper to help you navigate.

3. Only going to the “tourist” areas

Yes, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Times Square are all really cool to see, and you should visit these places. There are, however, other really things to see while in NYC. Here are a few to check out:

4. Not carrying enough cash

Some shops and restaurants in New York City only take cash. It’s best to have at least $50 on you at all times. Some places offer discounts if you use cash instead of a credit card.

5. Not tipping enough

It’s polite and expected that you tip at least $20% on the pre-taxed amount if the service was good, 15% if it was mediocre (no less). It’s customary to do this because servers make less than minimum wage and tips give servers the ability to make more on busy times of business.

6. Not bringing a powerbank and charger for your phone

Like most, you will be using your phone a lot while traveling. Bring a powerbank to charge your phone while walking. It’s better to use one of these rather than sitting and waiting for your phone to charge in a restaurant or public area.

7. Getting in the way of sidewalk traffic

Stopping to adjust something, look at a map, or take a picture is completely acceptable, but just step out of the way to do it. Halting foot traffic agitates those walking behind you. Simply be courteous of those behind you.

8. Needing to use the restroom too often

There are not many free restrooms in New York City. Many restaurants have them but you may need to buy something in order to use the facilities. The app SitOrSquat can show you where free restrooms are located.

9. Not checking the weather

New York City’s weather is unpredictable. The wind can blow all day or a brief rain shower could pass through. Check the forecast to know how to dress for your trip on the streets.

10. Not going to the top of the Rock

The Top of the Rock is similar to going to the top of the Empire State Building but much cheaper and better views.

11. Not paying enough for quality food

In New York City, you usually get what you pay for when it comes to food. Quality costs more. You could eat cheap pizza for every meal, but if you want something delicious and authentic, you’ll usually have to pay a little more.

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