Even though patience isn’t my strong suit but some tourists seem to treat going on vacation as an opportunity to forget all their manners and strangely, that the place visited isn’t real. Let me be the first to tell you that NYC is very real and the over 8 Million people living here can attest to that. With tourism expected to grow and the next influx around the corner, it seems like a good time to remind folks how to be a good tourist – this goes perfectly for the New York area, but also to travelers in general.
Here’s a list of five things to keep in mind and are based on my own efforts to observe and adapt to the locals (although not always successfully) when I’m a tourist myself. So without further ado, here is how to be a good toursit:
1. Don’t Cause Traffic Jams
This is by far my biggest pet peeve. NYC is already extremely crowded and when you add all the visitors, it feels like it’s going to explode with people, particularly at the heaviest tourism times and in certain parts of the city, like all of midtown. Those of us who live here need to continue to get to work and stay on schedule so please don’t exasperate the situation by blocking traffic.
Don’t come to a dead stop upon exiting the subway station. The hordes of people you’ll be holding up behind you will certainly not be happy. If you’re disoriented upon exiting the station and need to get your bearings or consult a map, that’s understandable but, do it once you’ve walked away from the subway’s entrance. We’ll be much more amenable to offering assistance if you respect us by not blocking traffic. Also, please, I beg you, don’t take over the entire sidewalk by walking three or four abreast down it. We can’t get passed you and we definitely walk faster. Lastly, green means you can cross the street. If you choose not to for some reason then step aside and let others do so. Oh, and by the way, jay walking isn’t illegal in NYC.
2. Don’t Complain
Don’t complain about how dirty NYC is or that the bars and restaurants are crowded. You may not find the same stores that you’re used to at home, but be respectful of the fact that you’re visiting somewhere new and expand your horizons. New Yorkers are diverse and helpful, while we don’t take kindly to visitors complaining about our city, we can actually be very accommodating when treated with respect. Most of us are happy to help visitors find their direction when asked nicely.
3. Don’t Yell
For some reason, tourists get much louder when they’re on vacation. I guess it’s a feeling of total abandonment however, it can be disturbing and frankly inconsiderate, particularly in certain places like museums, restaurants and the subway. If you feel like you just have to scream and yell, save it for Central Park.
4. Don’t Insult Us or Our Home
I take great pride in NYC; it’s truly one of the best cities in the world with lots to offer tourists from the finest restaurants and shopping to world renowned museums, culture and entertainment. It may be different than what you’re used to at home, but that’s the fun part of traveling so embrace it! Don’t forget that your vacation destination is our home, which we are intensely proud and protective of, so don’t proclaim your intense dislike of where you are, or be condescending to the people who live here.
5. Be Adventurous
It’s true that many of the must-see tourist attractions and hotels are in midtown but, to get the best feel for New York and have the most fun, do yourself a favor and visit some other neighborhoods. There are a number of food neighborhoods to indulge and expand your culinary horizons: Chinatown, Little Italy, Curry Hill, Korea Town, Hell’s Kitchen or the Village. While Fifth Avenue is easily the most popular shopping street, there are also a handful of neighborhoods for clothes, jewelry and other treasures that you won’t find at home such as Soho, Greenwich Village, the Garment District or Hell’s Kitchen (more than just food). And please, please, skip the tourist trap of midtown bars!
New York is a great city and we welcome tourists who want to explore and learn about it. All we ask is that you be aware of the customs and keep an open mind, good travel tips for tourists anywhere really.