New York, the city that never sleeps, is undoubtedly one of the top destinations to visit at least once in your life. Surrounded by big screens and people, you can feel like you’re in the centre of the Universe. It is no coincidence that it is the city of fashion bloggers, the most famous artists and home to countless scenes of the most popular movies. But what happens if you want to travel there by yourself? What are the warnings for solo travellers?
Let me tell you first: there is absolutely nothing to worry about. The city is very safe and well provided with many services. I can assure you, take it from a young girl who set off to discover the Big Apple alone as Au Pair.
Here are some tips to get the best out of travelling solo in New York.
1. THINGS TO BRING
Regardless of how many days you want to stay in the city, it is important you always bring your mobile phone with a data plan (there is no free wi-fi on the street), camera, documents, city map, comfortable shoes, anorak for cooler days and enough money for any unforeseen expenses.
When you start to plan your trip, it is very important to find an accommodation for your entire stay (it’s required in your Visa/ESTA before your departure). If you are a solo traveller you can opt for hostels or better yet couch-surf!
All the 5 suburbs of New York are well connected by the public transportations. There are buses, trains, ferries and of course the subway. The subway operates 24/7 and it is the fastest way to visit all the places in short time. It is very recommended buying the MetroCard because you can use it even on the buses and some trains. The first time you will do it, there is a fee just to request the card but after that, you can always recharge it with the amount you prefer. You can even opt for Uber and Lyft if you want to save money of the taxi but despite this, it is not so convenient because the city is very crowded.
Connected to transportation, it is very important to know where you are going first. It doesn’t matter if you are walking or if you’re taking public transportation, you have to know if you need to go “Uptown” or “Downtown”. Fortunately, even though the city is huge, it is very simple to move around it. You only have the Avenues and the Streets which are numbered (just some have names). The Avenues are disposed vertically and the Streets horizontally. In the subway, you just need to pay attention to the signs. You will find the same line but with two different directions: one for “Uptown” and the other one for “Downtown”. Just choose the one you need to take.
5. PLACES TO EAT
As you can imagine, New York is a gastronomic capital. You can find all kinds of food from around the world here. The most famous places, in my opinion, are located in the West Village, Chelsea, Little Italy, Hell’s Kitchen and Flushing (Queens). You can find different ranks of restaurants: from the cheapest one to the most renowned. It’s up to you depending on what you’re looking for. As a solo traveller, I would recommend the many open kitchens scattered in the city where you choose as much food as you want and you pay depending on the weight. It is cheaper and healthier than the usual Mc Donalds or any other fast foods places.
How many of you have always wanted to do shopping on the famous 5th Avenue? Well, we don’t have any doubts that Manhattan is one of the most famous places to shop in the world, so let’s be prepared to swipe our credit card! As a shopaholic, the best places to shop are: 5th Avenue, Times Square, the very renowned Macy’s, SoHo and the World Trade Center in Downtown.
However, if shopping is not what you are looking for but you’d still like to buy some souvenirs, the cheapest place to buy them is Chinatown. It offers the same things as everywhere else but of course with a cheaper price with the possibility to get a really good discount.
7. APPS RECOMMENDED
Since you are travelling by yourself, it is essential to have a mobile and to get some useful apps which will help you to be informed about what’s happening around you and how to move in the city without getting lost. Regarding my experience, the ones that you should have are:
- NYC Subway: it is a map of all the subway lines that surround the city giving you live information about delays, timetables and work in progress on the tracks. The most important thing about it is it works offline so you don’t need to have an internet access to access it
- TimeOut New York: it is a wonderful app with a lot of information about daily events/shows, places to eat, free things to do, last minute announced concerts, …
- New York Pass – Travel Guide: with this application, you have all information about museums, monuments, main attractions, tours and prices. You can even make your own itinerary and how to budget. Every single thing is well described with the location and also the fare
- Uber/Lyft: to avoid getting an expensive taxi, use Uber or a Lyft to go everywhere for cheaper from any location
- Groupon: who says you can’t find good deals even in a city as New York? Download Groupon and you will see how many good promotions are waiting for you. Thanks to it, I was able to save money to visit some of the top city attractions as a result!
- Google translator: it could be granted sometimes but for someone who is not so confident with the English language and doesn’t have a pocket dictionary all the time, this app could be a life saver to survive in a foreign city.
Having said that, I hope these tips will be useful & helpful to you if you do decide to embark on a solo adventure in the Big Apple.