Traveling around the streets of New York may seem intimidating if you’re from a less-urban environment, but you’ll save a lot of time and money if you know a few secrets about getting around the city.
Know Where You Want to Go
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The best way to reduce frustration on the streets of New York is to book a hotel that’s close to what you want to see. Spare yourself money and stress by using a comprehensive travel site like Gogobot to plan a rough itinerary, including your “must-see” museums, restaurants and shows. Then choose a hotel close to the most of the action, and within easy walking distance of the subways and trains you’ll need.
Cluster Your Fun
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Once you’ve got a hotel close to the bulk of your activities, plot the rest of your wish list on a map. See if you can visit one section of the city each day. Take a subway or cab into the area, and then walk from one attraction to another.
Enjoy the Streets
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Very few cities in the U.S. offer a vibrant street life, and even fewer have strong enough public transit systems to allow residents to live without a car. To really get a feel for NYC, spend some time walking the city. Buy a scarf or necktie on a street corner, and eat a falafel from a cart. Sit in Central Park and feed some pigeons for an authentic New York experience.
Learn Your Way Around Under the Big Apple
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By far the fastest and least-expensive way to get around in NYC is the subway. If you’ll be in town longer than a week, buy an unlimited pass and save even more. The MTA offers maps, schedules and service changes — which you should definitely check — on their website. Subways run 24/7, but it’s safer to take a taxi at night.
How To Use a Taxi
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Safety isn’t the only reason to take a taxi. When your feet are tired or you’re loaded down with shopping bags, settling into a taxi is a huge relief. If you come from an area where cabs aren’t common, here are some tips: Taxis let you know they’re available by lighting up the numbers on top. When you see a cab that’s open, wave it down with your arm. If you know the direction you’re traveling, it’s a good idea to get on that side of the road, so you’re not paying the cabbie to drive until they can turn around. A 15-20 percent tip is customary, plus $1 for any restaurant or hotel employee who calls a cab for you.
Getting around the streets like a real New Yorker — by walking, taking the subway, and filling in with cabs — will help you not only save money, but also get the most out of your vacation. You may find that the time you spend in subway cars and on foot will be the best memories of your trip.