Traveling to New York City Alone
So you want to travel to that concrete jungle where dreams are made of, but you're afraid to do it alone? Have no fear, I'm becoming an expert traveling there without a travel buddy!
I have been to NYC multiple times in the past few years and each time I have traveled up alone. I have stayed with friends in a hotel, crashed with someone I know up there or stayed in a hotel by myself. More times than not, especially in the last year, the trip has been completely solo, meaning I went up either for something specific or just a quick trip to see my NY friends - rather than an NYC workout meetup with a ton of girls.
I have received multiple messages about how brave I am to go to the city alone and how I go about it, so I figured I would combine some of my top tips and advice from my own experiences of taking on the Big Apple by myself!
1. TRAVEL & STAY PLANS
Make sure you plan your travel (flight, train, car) around when you want to arrive in the city. This is pretty much a given but you don't want to be lugging stuff around all day. Make sure if you have things to do you have time to ditch your things and lighten your load to carry around the city. Because of where I am located the train is the best way to get to NYC, I use Amtrak. It takes me a little less than 3 hours to get to the city. I have been fortunate enough to have friends up in NYC that I have stayed with or hotels that I have collaborated with at a discounted price. I think about the things I am going to be doing and where would be convenient to stay. Midtown is obviously a good choice but I try to avoid staying near Times Square because it is just chaos and I like to think I am an "adopted New Yorker" in the way that I don't want to be around that madness. Research the hotels, read their reviews and find one that is located relatively close to things you'll be doing.
2. GOOGLE MAPS - YOUR NEW BFF
I cannot emphasize how much Google Maps have helped me when navigating the streets of Manhattan. I put in where I am going and I can see how long it will take to drive, walk or train wherever. I used to get turned around with the walking directions but I have gotten better at it. I like to check to see which way I am heading (uptown or downtown) and then where my destination is like corner of W 35th and 8th, just an example. Then I know if I am on W 34th I know to look each way and then walk towards 35th, duh, and so on. Also if you are getting in a cab - they won't always know where a specific place is (i.e. SoulCycle NoHo) but they will have a better idea if you say West 4th and Lafayette. So ALWAYS look that up before getting in a cab - Uber is a little easier because you can type it in. Before I go to bed I always look up where I am headed first and then pick when I wanted to arrive to check to see how long it would take to get there. I see what train(s) I would be looking to take and station I would leave from etc. Google Maps are pretty accurate and extremely helpful. Figure out your route and check back to make sure you're on the right path if you don't want to close out of the app.
**Don't be a clueless tourist! If you need to check your maps or slow down - step off to the side of the sidewalk near a building and check that you are o track. PLEASE do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk, it's super annoying to everyone around you and if it's a crowded place you're making your life harder, step aside gather yourself and keep moving.**
3. THE SUBWAY IS THE WAY TO GO
I know one of the scariest things about NYC is the subway, especially when you are traveling alone. BEEN THERE! My best advice would be Uber or take a cab when you first get there to go wherever you are going and then when you are going other places take the train (subway). My friend Casey said, please start calling it the train so you don't sound like a tourist hahaha. I get it, Uber seems safer, cleaner and less scary but the difference in money is crazy! You can get a MetroCard at the beginning of the trip and choose your value and it costs like $2.75 to enter (I believe) as opposed to whatever your Uber or cab may cost. To me there is nothing more annoying than getting in a cab or Uber and bring stuck in crazy traffic panicking if you will get somewhere on time. Trains come all the time and I just like the feeling of "moving" and not sitting stuck in traffic. I luckily haven't had a horrific broken down subway experience yet.
4. HEADPHONES ARE A MUST
I understand taking in all the things that NYC has to offer but in my opinion you NEED headphones to walk around the city by yourself. It means leave me alone and I think makes you blend in a little more ;) And if you have the sound on your google maps - it is not shouting it out to the world but in your headphones. It just makes your trip go faster and you can be in your own little world while traveling from place to place.
5. MAKE PLANS
If you have friends in NYC, obviously make your plans ahead to see them - I do this always! Almost always we plan things around a workout class or lunch/dinner. If you are not one for the workout classes just make sure you fill your time with the things you want to see. The city life moves so quickly I always like to have a little bit of down time in the afternoons while I am there to either squeeze in a quick nap or just chill somewhere alone. I know there is so much to squeeze in in such little time but you will be exhausted by 7 PM if you don't pace yourself!
With that you want to plan out your days. When you'll be where, maybe where you will eat and what you'll be doing. One thing I always do is the night before based on what I just stated I pack my bag. I try to keep my backpack as light as possible because after carrying it around all day my back definitely starts to hurt. In the summer I totally see why people don't carry backpacks but just bags, just imagine sweaty shirt and bag, no bueno.
6. HIT THOSE PLACES OF INTEREST
OBVIOUSLY you have to hit your places of interest. What is so crazy is each time I have gone up to NYC in the past two years I haven't don many "touristy" things! I am always taking workout classes and seeing different friends. So I have promised myself next time I go I am going to set aside some time to go to The Top of the Rock, Ground Zero, the Brooklyn Bridge etc. Along with those big tourist attractions you have to map out places you want to eat! There are SO many great places to eat in NYC and I haven't even scraped the bottom of the barrel! Pizza is a must - I just got the $1 slices from 2 Bros Pizza and loved it. I know there is the authentic Italian places as well. You also have to go to Juice Generation if you love smoothies. PB Split with Whey is my GO-TO (heart-eyes), Dig Inn is quick, relatively cheap and delicious. I had the best brunch at Bluestone Lane in West Village and Hu Kitchen is also great!
7. BE PREPARED
Be prepared to spend a good amount of money when you are in NYC, it's kind of inevitable and you can obviously tailor the trip to how much you want to spend but just know in NYC things are more expensive simply because they can be! Bring snacks - they will help hold you off in the afternoon if you don't want to buy a $10 smoothie.
8. PORTABLE CHARGER
My phones dies all the time as is, but I swear NYC makes it hard to charge your phone most places. Make sure you have a portable charger (that is charged!) in your bag so you can juice up your phone when it is getting low and you won't be able to charge it for hours. This has saved me multiple times in the city.
9. LEAVE ENOUGH TIME
As a newcomer to the city you want to make sure you leave yourself enough time to get to places in case you get lost, a train is late or things don't go according to plan. Better to be early than be late and panic in a city you can't navigate.
10. ENJOY THE ALONE TIME
I didn't realize I would enjoy wandering around the city alone until I did it. It's a weird sense of freedom you feel and then accomplishment when you make it from one place to another. I tell ya the day I made it to Brooklyn and back with train switches I felt like the real deal. It's kind of a fun challenge to find your way around the city and you should enjoy it!
Below are just some photos of things I have done and places I have been in NYC! Let me know if you have any questions