One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world is New York City, in the state of New York, USA. Its many iconic attractions have their images plastered across our media and culture, so it’s no surprise that many people feel the urge to visit and experience it for themselves.
But apart from the obvious tall buildings and flashing lights, what can you expect from your trip? It’s a good idea to bear these things in mind, as they can help you plan your time as well as your spending.
It’s not as cheap as it was
As UK-based travellers, many of us are used to going abroad and finding everything is quite affordable. The pound has always been relatively strong and our prices in generally are fairly high compared to much of continental Europe, the USA and many other destinations. A lot in New York City is not expensive in real terms compared to places like London – perhaps one of the world’s most overpriced cities!
However, the exchange rate from pounds to dollars is pretty poor now, and prices haven’t adjusted to match. Gone are the days when a dollar only cost to 50p. The two currencies are much closer in value now, so you’ll feel like you’re paying over the odds.
Food is cheap enough if you like burgers
If you’re a fan of the American classic, the cheeseburger and fries, you’re going to the right place. There’s a huge amount of choice in New York City and it doesn’t have to cost a huge amount to get a great burger. If you fancy anything else, however, be prepared to pay a bit more. P.S. Pizza slices for a dollar are not a myth, but they are rare.
The road system is super efficient
If you’re used to driving (or walking) around the UK, especially in cities, you’ll be familiar with confusing and overwhelming road systems. The American grid system is almost unheard of here, but New York City offers an excellent example of it in action. Once you understand how the alternating one-way system works, you’ll be amazing how it keeps the traffic flowing. Pedestrian crossings are mostly made easy with precisely-calibrated timers to keep the pace.
It’s essential that you tip people
Tips are usually optional in UK restaurants, and that’s the only thought we give the matter. Meanwhile in the States, anyone who gives you a service will be hoping for a tip of 15% to 20% for their trouble. This can really push up your bill in a restaurant, especially if tax wasn’t included in the price either (this is pretty common).
There’s more to do than you think
Some of the best attractions in New York City are the most famous ones. The Empire State Building gives you an unmatched view of the entire city in the day or at night, despite no longer being the tallest point. But between the buildings, statues and other sights you planned for, you’ll probably find it impossible to stay on track. Expect to be sidetracked regularly and find ten new interesting sites for every one you visit.
Here are just a few more tips to help your trip go smoothly while you’re in New York…
- Learn to recognise the coins quickly, especially the difference between quarters and nickels which look similar
- Don’t accept “free” mixtapes from people in Times Square unless you want to spend the next 10 minutes negotiating a price
- Remember to add approximately 8.75% tax on to prices in your head before paying, as it’s not normally included (except for some exempt items like clothing)
- Be prepared for a no-nonsense approach when you have to deal with any police or security staff, especially at airport border control
- Stop to enjoy the trip at every opportunity and try not to get stressed! It can be an overwhelming place to be, but New York City is designed to excite and entertain.