New York – A Survival Guide

I was recently lucky enough to be in New York for a holiday, and Partnership International tasked me with preparing a sure-fire survival guide for those of you who enrol on their fantastic U.S. programmes. New York is a true metropolis and one of the world’s greatest cities. It’s a city that you should be prepared to visit so that you not only get the most out of your trip but also stay safe. The following guide will hopefully give you some tips to get maximum enjoyment from your time there!

Be Prepared

Just like in the Lion King, the best thing to do before a trip to NYC is to be prepared. Make sure you know where your accommodation is in relation to the nearest subway stop, and check out any comments or reviews to learn about the area and any specific things you should be aware of. Make a list of the ten most important things you want to see and do, and plan your time carefully, making sure you factor in transport and the weather. Make sure you have some dollars on arrival, but don’t carry a large amount with you – it’s easier and cheaper these days to simply use an ATM and their exchange rate. Remember to pack essentials like a travel adaptor and a map of the city and its subway network if you can get one – these will be time-savers when you land.

 The subway is your friend

The best way to get around the city quickly and cheaply is the subway. I would recommend getting a Metro Card at your first opportunity. If you are there for 7 days then the best option would be a 7-day Unlimited-Ride top-up for €31. If you are going to be there for a weekend, but anticipate using the subway a lot, then this might still be the best option as each journey costs €2.75. Make sure you get used to where each line goes, what station name you are looking for, and what side of the platform to stand on. There’s nothing worse than going the wrong way and only realising it when you’re 10 blocks further away! A pocket subway map is a great idea, and I would recommend taking one with you at all times. The subway runs 24/7, but be aware that not every line will do so, and some will run trains more infrequently later into the night. In the subway make sure to keep your belongings close to you, and keep the chat to a minimum – it will only let everyone else know you’re a tourist.
  brooklyn subway

Keep your journeys small

Whilst NYC is laid out in a handy grid system, the age of the city and the similarity of street names can be confusing. Distances which look small on a map can actually be a long hike (I ended up walking the entire length of Central Park, twice, due to a minor navigational error). The best plan is to keep your journeys small, and try and group the things you want to see into close by areas. This will allow you to walk a lot more, and you will end up seeing so much more of the city this way. Remember if you want to go and see something in Brooklyn for instance, don’t also plan to see something in say Upper Manhattan. Most of the things you will want to see on a first time visit e.g. Central Park, Times Square, The Empire State Building, are all in Manhattan. You shouldn’t ever have to take a taxi, but if you do, be aware that they can be pretty expensive and traffic at rush hour can be terrible.

new york

Talk to the locals

The best information on a city can always be found by the people who live there. If you’re unsure of directions don’t worry about asking for directions from a police officer, transit official or in a restaurant or café. If you’re in a bar then strike up a conversation – you might make some new friends, and you can also find out about where the cool places are to eat or drink around you. Ask who you are staying with about their own tips or advice – you’ll be surprised how useful all this information can be. Be sensible though. Don’t try to appear completely naïve, and use common sense on who to talk to, and what you might ask.

Have fun, but be sensible

NYC has a huge amount to offer, especially when the sun goes down. Of course you will want to go out and sample what the night-time has to offer in one of the most well-known cities for night life, but be sensible. Make sure that you know where you’re planning to go, how you get there, and more importantly how you get home. Keep the address of your accommodation in your wallet or purse, and have a back-up in your jacket. If you can avoid it, don’t take your passport out with you (use a driver’s licence if you can) – if you have to, make sure it’s in an internal pocket where it can’t slip out easily, or be taken. Keep a minimum of cash on you, and top up if needs be as the night goes on. Always keep €20 in a safe place in case of an emergency – this will at least get you home.

Remember that you’re in the States now and you will need to tip, even in bars. The general rule is a buck a beer and 10-20% for service if you’re eating. Drinks like cocktails can be mixed strong in NYC, and often bars will operate on a free pour basis, so watch out! Most clubs or late night bars will also operate a cover charge so if you’re up late, be prepared to pay to get in. At night, and especially late, the best way to get around is the subway or taxi. You can walk of course in tourist areas like Times Square, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to take a shortcut if you’re not 100% sure where you are going. For the best night out in NYC try and head out with a local who will give you advice and can help navigate you through the hundreds of options to explore. At the end of the day though, as long as you’re sensible, have fun!

responsibility new yorkIf you want to 


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