New Yorkers are friendly and are perfectly willing to give directions if stopped in the street, or offer a little advice for first time travellers. Be careful, however, of New Yorkers who seem a little too friendly and are eager to offer unsolicited services. Do not give any personal information, such as where you are staying or whether or not you’re travelling alone. Keep all your identifying documents close to your chest, including your passport, credit cards and bank information. Identity thefts are fairly common, as are false representation of services.
If you’ve purchased a Metro Card, it can be used for going to the airport. You just need to top it off at the exchange between the subway line and the airport line. You may find people who will tell you this can’t be done and ask for the card. Don’t believe them.
Taxis to and from the JFK airport are expensive. You will pay an average of £32 for your fare; or fifty to sixty American Dollars. You can save quite a bit of money by going upstairs and taking the air train. If you do choose a taxi, beware of taxi services that are actually personal carriers. It is illegal in NYC to operate a taxi service without proper documentation and licensing. If you accept a service from a private carrier, you are as liable toward a fine as the driver.
When riding in a taxi, know exactly where you wish to go. Invest in a map or a GPS finder. If the taxi driver takes you in the wrong direction, he will not take responsibility for it and will charge you for the extra mileage. Argue the matter, and you will simply be left on the curb to find another taxi.
New York City is shoppers beware type of world. You may find shops advertising they are going out of business, with all prices reduced as low as sixty percent off. Familiarize yourself with the average costs of items before taking these slashed prices at face value. Check the Internet for standard prices before buying any electronics in NYC. The camera you just bought at half-cost savings of £300 may still be more expensive then the same product at a nearby shop being offered at full retail price.
CNN named Times Square the biggest tourist trap in New York City. It has so many electronic and digital billboards, they overwhelm, making you wonder just why you came, but as long you have your humour about you, there are opportunities for amusement. The Square is filled with strangely dressed characters pretending to be famous personages and willing to have their photos taken with you - for a price. As long as you remember it’s a scam, it just might be worth the price of the photograph just for the laughs when you return home.
When you visit the Statue of Liberty, be prepared for some very long waiting lines. You might wish to bring your meal with you, as the café food is not overly appetizing and somewhat over-priced.
An alternative for getting some great views of the Liberty Lady, with less waiting time and virtually no cost, is to take the Staten Island ferry. It’s the one the locals use and you will be able to view the Statue from exactly the same location that gave early immigrants their first glimpse of the inspiring symbol.
Go local when travelling by bus in the Big Apple. Tour busses are twice the expense, and half the courtesy. The bus drivers will be very helpful when you explain where you wish to go, and will sometimes offer more information and suggestions than the tour company. If the bus driver seems busy, you can always ask the local passengers on the bus. New Yorkers are proud of the city and don’t mind pointing you in the right direction. Not only will you save money, and have a more versatile bus service, you will be helping the environment. Most of the city busses are clean-air hybrids.
No matter when you plan your holiday, traffic will be congested and there will be crowds waiting at the doors of the museums, theatres and concert halls. Plan your itinerary before you ever leave home. Don’t try to plan too many “must do” items into one day or you’ll find yourself being rushed, with more time spent on waiting than actually enjoying the visit.
Make reservations only when necessary. Otherwise, you will be under pressure, you will not be able to make flexible plans, and it may end up costing you more. Reservations are advisable for entertainment venues, such as high-end nightclubs and theatres.
Invest in a Metro Card if you are planning to visit several parts of the city. The Metro Cards are inexpensive and are more convenient than constantly counting exact change. If you are using a credit card, don’t enter anything when asked for a zip code. Just press enter or “OK”, then go on to the next screen.
Wear comfortable shoes since you will be on your feet a lot. Dress to the season. New York City has cold winters, very hot summers, and plenty of rain in between.
Don’t be afraid to wander. New York is actually a very safe city, with many exciting shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries and entertainment venues. It’s a wonderful blend of the old and the new. You might discover your own special place to go that is delightful enough to advise all your friends.
The city contains many cultural identities, bringing their own flavour and social characteristics, adding colour and vibrancy to the metropolitan hub. When you are in New York, keep an open mind. New Yorkers’ only common attribute is that they live in New York, so ask questions when in doubt and be willing to explore its diversity.