New York City is a popular destination for vacationers from around the world. Living and working here has made me a frequent target for friends and relatives with questions on what to see or do in the City. Frequently, these questions include one big caveat — nothing too touristy, please.
If you look up guides online, that same sentiment is repeated making it clear that there is literally nothing worse in New York than looking like a tourist.
So what’s a wide-eyed globetrotter eager to make the most of a big city trip to do?
Here are my tips for how NOT to look like a tourist in New York:
#1: Get familiar with how the subway works BEFORE you get here
If you know in advance where you’re going to be staying and what you want to see, spend an hour on the MTA’s website beforehand figuring out which train lines and which stops you’ll need to use before getting here. Sure, New Yorkers on the street will be happy to help you, but if you know the difference between an express train and a local ahead of time, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache.
#2: Stay in AirBnB
Do you think your average New Yorker lives in a hotel?
#3: Vote in local elections
I think this is pretty self-explanatory. Check out the New York state Board of Elections page to read up on the residency requirements.
#4: Get a full-time job
Those traveling from overseas may bump into visa concerns, but it’s worth it. Trust me; nothing screams “I’m a tourist!” quite like a tourist visa.
#5: Be assertive in cabs
Taxis are metered here in the Big City, so it’s tough to get swindled too badly, but if you look like you’re from Nowheresville, USA (Population: You) then you’re liable to end up on the West Side Highway every. Single. Time.
Here’s a frugal tip: As soon as you get into a cab, don’t ask questions and don’t even take a chance at mispronouncing your destination (Green Witch Village? How adorably provincial of you!) Instead, take a seat, put on your best New Yawwwk accent, and scream: “Look, I’m from here! Just drive!”
It’s what New Yorkers do.
#6: Cry a little bit in public… Every day