NYC Travel Mistakes: What NOT to Do in New York City

NYC Travel Mistakes: What NOT to Do in New York City
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Traveling to New York City can be an exciting adventure, but it can also be overwhelming if you don’t pre-plan and avoid common travel mistakes. In this blog post, we will discuss some travel mistakes you should avoid on your next trip to the Big Apple. By being aware of these NYC travel tips and taking the necessary precautions, you can make the most of your time in New York City.

Mistake 1: Not Pre-Planning Airport Arrival Details

One common mistake travelers make is not pre-planning their airport arrival details. Imagine arriving at the airport without a clear plan on how to get to your hotel. New York City airports are not as straightforward as some others, such as Amsterdam’s, where a single train takes you to the city center. To avoid this, plan ahead and determine whether you’ll take a taxi, Uber, Lyft, or public transportation. Research options like the JFK Long Island Railroad or the Five Dollar City Pass for a more convenient and cost-effective commute. By pre-planning your transportation from the airport, you’ll eliminate unnecessary stress upon your arrival.

Mistake 2: Metrocard Machine Mistake

If you need to purchase a Metrocard in New York City and you’re not from the United States, there’s a common mistake you should avoid. When using a credit card to pay, the machine will prompt you for a zip code. Since you don’t have an American zip code, enter 99999. Many foreign tourists have been confused by this step, but by entering five nines, you can complete the transaction without any issues. To learn more about using the Metrocard and other convenient payment methods like omnipay, refer to our Subway guide video.

Mistake 3: The Clockwise Subway Turnstile Mistake

A subway turnstile mistake that often catches tourists off guard is related to the High Entrance Moving Gates. When swiping your card and entering the subway, make sure to go counterclockwise through the gates. Swiping in the wrong direction will lock you out and result in the loss of your fare. These gates can be confusing, especially when carrying luggage, so it’s best to use regular subway entrances or observe how others navigate through them. By avoiding this mistake, you can save both time and money during your subway travels.

Mistake 4: Not Watching Where You Walk in Manhattan

Walking around Manhattan without paying attention to where you step can lead to unpleasant experiences. Unlike some smaller towns or cities, New York City sidewalks may have trash, litter, and even uncleaned dog waste. To avoid trouble, refrain from wearing flip-flops while exploring Manhattan. It’s essential to always watch where you’re walking to prevent stepping in unpleasant substances. Stay vigilant and maintain awareness of your surroundings, ensuring a more enjoyable and hygienic experience in the city.

Mistake 5A: Google Maps

Utilizing Google Maps during your visit to New York City is highly recommended. However, there’s a helpful trick that many people overlook: downloading an offline map of the city. By downloading the map in advance, you can navigate without relying on data services, even in areas with limited or no cell service. This offline feature is convenient for tourists, providing access to GPS functionality regardless of internet connectivity. Make sure to download the offline map of New York City using the Google Maps app before your trip.

Mistake 5B: Seated App

While exploring New York City, don’t miss out on using the Seated app. This app offers a unique way to save money when dining at more expensive restaurants. Seated displays restaurants on a map, indicating the percentage of your bill that will be returned to you as credit after your meal. By photographing your receipt or pre-linking your credit card, you can accumulate credits that can be used for various purposes, such as Airbnb, Uber, or Amazon gift cards. To receive a $20 discount on your first meal, use our referral code: “John28.” Seated is a valuable tool for finding great dining options while also saving money.

Mistake 6: Not Trying Other Methods of Transportation in NYC

While walking and using the subway are common modes of transportation in New York City, there are alternative options worth considering. One such option is the NYC Ferry, which offers a unique and scenic way to commute. The NYC Ferry is often used by commuters but remains relatively unknown to tourists. Taking the ferry from Pier 11 Wall Street to Dumbo in Brooklyn, or the route to Frog’s Neck in the Bronx, can be an enjoyable and cost-effective way to explore the city. Additionally, utilizing buses or trying Citi Bikes can provide different perspectives and experiences while getting around the city.

Mistake 7: Eating Only in Times Square

Many tourists make the mistake of exclusively dining in Times Square. While it’s understandable to be drawn to the iconic area, there is a neighboring neighborhood worth exploring—Hell’s Kitchen. Just a short walk away, 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen offers a plethora of dining options that cater to locals rather than tourist-oriented establishments. By venturing to this underrated food strip, you’ll have the opportunity to dine at authentic, lesser-known restaurants and immerse yourself in a more genuine New York City experience.

Mistake 8: Taking a Horse-Drawn Carriage in Central Park or Midtown

Taking a horse-drawn carriage ride may seem like a romantic and nostalgic experience in Central Park or Midtown. However, it is essential to consider the welfare of the horses and the controversies surrounding this practice. Instances of horses collapsing from heat exhaustion have been reported, raising concerns about their well-being. While the decision is ultimately yours, it is advised to thoroughly research and consider alternatives, such as pedicabs, which can provide a similar Central Park tour without the ethical concerns.

Mistake 9: Not Pre-Booking Observation Decks if Tight on Time

If you have a tight schedule and wish to visit observation decks in New York City, it is a mistake not to pre-book your tickets. Many observation decks now offer the option to book in advance, which ensures a smoother and more efficient experience, especially during peak visiting hours. By reserving your tickets online, you can avoid long queues and secure the best time slots for capturing breathtaking views of the city skyline. Planning ahead is crucial when time is limited, allowing you to make the most of your visit to observation decks.

Mistake 10: Not Utilizing Rush Broadway Tickets

If you’re a fan of Broadway shows and want to save money, it would be a mistake not to take advantage of Rush tickets. Rush tickets offer discounted prices for same-day performances. While the traditional method involved waiting in line at the theater, many shows now offer digital lotteries where you can enter your name the day before the show. If you’re selected, you can purchase Rush tickets online, often at significantly reduced prices. This presents an excellent opportunity to experience top-quality theater at a more affordable cost.


When planning a trip to New York City, avoiding common travel mistakes can enhance your overall experience. By pre-planning airport arrival details, understanding Metrocard machine usage, being cautious in subway turnstiles, watching where you walk, utilizing helpful apps like Google Maps and Seated, exploring alternative transportation methods, diversifying dining experiences, considering ethical concerns, pre-booking observation deck tickets, and taking advantage of Rush Broadway tickets, you can make the most of your time in the city that never sleeps. With careful preparation and awareness, your visit to New York City will be memorable, enjoyable, and free from unnecessary complications.

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