New York City is undeniably one of the greatest cities in the world. You can put it right up there with Paris, London, Rome, Madrid, and any other highly-regarded tourist destination. It’s expensive to live there, and it can be hectic with the nonstop traffic, but it is one of those fantastic cities you should visit at least once during your lifetime.
The New York tourism industry took a hit last year, as travel did nearly everywhere else. The pandemic meant that it was useless to visit New York since virtually all of the restaurants, bars, and other venues had to close down for safety reasons.
It’s a new year, though, and the vaccine distribution has reopened New York City to the public. Not every single restriction is gone, but you can go there now and see many of the sights and experience the cultural opportunities this amazing metropolis provides.
If you visit New York, you must take some precautions to stay safe. Here are our top tips for NYC visitors in 2021.
Only Cross the Streets When the Light Is in Your Favor
Maybe you’re in the habit of crossing against the light sometimes. Often, if there’s no one around, you can get away with it.
In New York City, though, there is rarely a time when the streets are completely deserted. It’s not by accident that New York has earned the moniker “The City that Never Sleeps.”
If you don’t wait for a green light and cross in the crosswalk, you’re taking your life in your hands. It’s not hyperbole to say that some drivers won’t even slow down if you try to cross in front of them when you’re not supposed to. They’ll just assume you’ll jump out of the way as they’re bearing down on you.
Cars frequently pack the streets, and you also have no way of knowing whether any of the drivers have ingested alcohol or other substances. On US roadways, drunk drivers kill over 10,000 people per year. Add that factor to how packed the NYC streets already are, and that’s even more incentive to follow all pedestrian traffic laws.
Don’t Flash Your Money Around
Maybe you’re carrying a lot of money around because you intend to do some shopping. New York definitely has some excellent shopping opportunities, whether you’re in Chinatown, SoHo, Midtown, or several other retail-friendly neighborhoods.
You should never display your money, though. Make sure to keep it tucked away somewhere, and only take it out when you’re safely inside a store and about to make a purchase.
Showing that you have money is a great way to attract pickpockets. You should grip your purse tightly when you’re in crowds and keep your wallet in your front pocket, so it’s not easy for someone to slip a hand in and lift it out.
Stay in Well-Lit Areas
You should make sure to stay only in well-lit areas and don’t take any shortcuts down dark alleys. Even in places as brightly lit as Midtown, crime can occur in dark corners. Remember that criminals like to do their work in the dark. Anytime you can stay in areas with plenty of street lights, you’re going to be in better shape to avoid robberies.
You should also stay in well-lit areas for other reasons. For instance, you never know if someone is going to try to grope you. Sexual harassment and assault can certainly occur in this city. Keeping to well-lit areas where there are plenty of other people around can be one of your best defenses against them.
Be Careful About What Train Stop You Utilize
If you decide to use the subway to get around, that can save you a lot of money. Hiring a cab or an Uber is a way to travel in style, but it’s much more expensive. A single cab ride for a few city blocks can easily cost you more than $20.
The trains can take you virtually anywhere in the city you want to go, but when you board one, try to figure out your stop. There are maps posted in nearly every train car, and you can count out how many stops you should pass to get to your destination. You can also carry a subway map with you that you can consult if you need to do so.
If you get out at the wrong stop, it should be a simple enough matter to wait for the next train and get back on so you can correct the mistake. You might also get off in a dangerous neighborhood, though.
The fact is that there are some neighborhoods that are pretty dangerous, and tourists seldom go there. You might be okay in daylight, but you don’t want to leave the station and wander around after dark. If you do happen to hop off at the wrong stop, stay in the station and try to catch the next train instead of heading topside, where you risk a potential mugging.
Travel in Groups
One more way you can stay safe in NYC is to travel in groups. If your whole family is there, or you’re there with a tourism group, there is safety in numbers. If you’re on your own, you need to be more careful since a thief or some other criminal might see you as a more tempting target.
If you don’t leave the hotel by yourself, you can feel more secure. With other people around, you can move as a unit. You don’t have to feel nervous about losing yourself in the unfamiliar streets or running into anyone threatening in a one-on-one encounter.
Often, you will find that New York residents are happy to help tourists. Many of them are proud to offer directions if you need to get somewhere and there isn’t a map handy. Just follow these common-sense rules, and you should enjoy your trip and come back with some happy memories.
For solo women travelers looking for risks and tips to avoid them, check out this Ultimate Safety Guide for Women Traveling the World Solo on a Budget.