New York City attracts thousands and thousands of tourists per year, be they young people going to concerts, business people attending a conference, or just families exploring the big city for the first time. Those who have lived in New York long enough to consider themselves New Yorkers have dedicated entire blogs to spotting tourists on the streets of their home city. On top of just looking silly, marking yourself as a tourist makes you an easy target for petty thieves or con artists trying to take advantage of naive visitors. To keep yourself safe and avoid looking foolish, here are some tips for not looking like a tourist in NYC.
Keep walking. New Yorkers are people on a mission, and they will run you over if you don’t get out of their way fast enough. We know you’re excited to see all the lights and buildings, but as much as you can, don’t dawdle. Pick a destination and get there with haste. If you need to tie your shoe or take a selfie, pull off the sidewalk altogether to avoid causing an accident.
Walk to the right. You can all but see the line that New Yorkers have drawn on the sidewalk separating the directions of traffic. As you navigate the streets, stay to the right, just like you would if you were driving on the roads. This keeps the foot traffic from becoming congested.
Talk with Intention. Whether you’re asking someone for directions, placing an order for food, or just making pleasant small talk, don’t dance around the subject at hand. Talk with intention. New Yorkers are thought by some outsiders to be very cold and curt, but in reality, they’re just people who put a high price on their time and don’t like to waste it. The city moves quickly, and to not stick out as a tourist, your mouth needs to keep up.
Listen to directions. Burn your paper maps, pamphlets, and scrawled out notes. If you’re ever caught trying to find your way with paper, rest assured you’ll wind up on someone’s snapchat story as a knucklehead tourist. If you’re unsure where you’re headed, plug your destination into your phone and listen to instructions through your earbuds. It’s okay to ask strangers for directions, as they’re generally helpful, but make a mental note and move on.
Don’t Stare. Yes, New York buildings are tall and the fashion is wild and the graffiti is eye-catching. We know. Please don’t stare or gawk like a child with no manners. New York takes pride in all the quirks, oddities, weirdness, and uniqueness that gives the city its reputation. Your staring makes the environment harsh for those who’ve become comfortable in their skin, and it makes you look like a country bumpkin leaving Kansas for the first time ever.
Don’t comment on the price. Everything in New York is more expensive than it is back home. Get over it. The city is an island, so getting goods here jacks up the price. Especially refrain from complaining about the price if you’re shopping in Time Square. Not a single New Yorker does any shopping there, and if you’re trying to pinch pennies on your trip, you’d better not either.
New York is a wonderful city that you should absolutely visit, but keep some of the local customs in mind to keep your profile low and your safety intact.