Monday, 8 September 2014

Enjoying NYC as a Solo Traveller: A Few Tips

My four day mini-break in New York City was one of the highlights of my summer. From squinting to see the Statue of Liberty as my bus drove in, to my last mental snapshot of the city at night from the Brooklyn Bridge, I loved my short stint there. And it's something that I would have missed out on, had I been too afraid to do it alone. Thus, today I've made it my mission share my experience of the Big Apple and to convince you that you can travel alone. So here are my tips for travelling alone in NYC specifically, but many of the tips can be applied to anywhere that you long to visit.

While New York City is a very safe city nowadays, it's natural to feel a tad uneasy when travelling alone. I found that the best way to feel safe when on your own in an unfamiliar location is to act confident. Ideally you should consult your map (physical or the one on your phone), commit to memory the route to take, store it in your bag, and walk... With confidence. Sure, you'll probably need to double check the directions every once in a while - that's fine. Just make sure to stay calm and collected. Fake it if you have to. Faking confidence always leads to real confidence. You'll convince yourself that you're a NYC local in no time... And any nagging worries you had about your personal safety will evaporate. From personal experience, I know that when I acted confident, I felt better travelling alone. The one point on the trip that I did get flustered (I was quite confused about what subway to take back to my hostel) a guy walked by and mocked me. 'I'm so lost', he whined at me. After that incident I knew that I didn't want to appear lost or confused, even when I was those two things exactly! To help me appear on top of things, even when I hadn't a clue, I listened to music, so I had a beat to walk to, and so I could outright ignore anyone who might have otherwise bothered me. Which brings me neatly to my next point...

Since you're destined to spend a lot of time going from place to place on public transport, a great way to beat the boredom is to stick on your headphones and (internally) bop to a few tunes. As well as having some amazing music to add to your adventures in the city, there's the added bonus that when one of these songs pops up on your iPod in the future, you'll be reminded of the fun you had on your trip. For me, the songs below will always remind me the glittering skyscrapers of New York City, as I listened to my playlist whilst admiring the view from the Top of the Rock (the Rockerfeller Centre viewpoint).

I crashed at the HI Hostel on Amsterdam Avenue, and I definitely recommend it as it has a great atmosphere thanks to the lovely employees and the free events they organise. By choosing a good hostel such as this one, you're guaranteed to make new friends. Whether it's the people you laugh next to at the comedy night, the ravers you party with on the pub crawl or your bunk bed buddy in your dorm room, staying at a hostel provides you with many opportunities to meet new people. That's the great thing about travelling by yourself - you're forced out of your comfort zone and pushed to say 'hi' to someone new... And who knows? The new people you meet could become a cherished pen pal, BFF or partner (my mum met my dad while travelling on her own)!

There aren't many chances in this life to be shamelessly selfish... But travelling on your own, with no one else to consider, is the perfect time to treat yourself. Yes, you're in NYC, and there's a myriad of sights to see, but that doesn't mean you necessarily need to spend every second at the various tourist traps. Personally, I used my trip as an excuse to pamper myself with the money I had saved from my two summer jobs. I booked myself into a fancy hair saloon (Suite 303 in NoHo) and got myself a few highlights. Of course, if you are on a budget you might not be able to go all out... But even if you're skint, perhaps you could pass on the cheap instant noodles for once and treat yourself to a fancy lunch at a cute cafe? Just make sure to slow down (all that sightseeing can be tiresome) and remember that when you're back at home you won't be able to be so self-centred! So embrace it while you can! And on that note...

Don't let anyone tell you that you HAVE to go to {blank} or you can't leave without visiting {insert hipster bar here}. Don't get me wrong, I love a good 'must-see in NYC' article as the next curious city-hopper, but make sure you don't take them too seriously. It's better to spend plenty of time at a few places that you love, instead speeding through your favourite museum because there's 1001 other 'must-see' sights you've planned to squeeze into your day. For me, I realised that I was short of time, and would only be able to see a bit of the Met and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) if I attempted to do both in one day. In the end, I opted to spend the whole day at MoMA as I find modern art so inspiring. While I would have loved to see the Met too, I don't regret my decision, as I was able to fully enjoy MoMA without rushing. Besides, it's always a good idea to leave a few places unseen, so you can get excited about planning your next visit!

So those are a few tips for travelling alone in New York City. Hope you enjoyed it! Most of the photos in this post can also be found on my Instagram, so give me a follow if you like them!

6 comments:

  1. I love The Prodigy and Deadmau5!! Really enjoyed this post. You have the most creative 'About' thumbnail (top right) I've ever seen! Very original.

    Have a great rest of the weekend!

    V
    Life+1

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  2. Claire, can I just say I absolutely love this post!!! Not only was it very cool to hear what you got upto in NY (fair play to you on going it alone) I've been itching to travel somewhere on my own lately and reading over your tips was exactly the kind of thing I needed! Definite catch up needed when I'm back in the country next year, also, the blog is looking fabulous xx

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    1. Aww bless, Raychel, you are the sweetest! I'm so glad you found it helpful! Yes, a catch up is VERY much needed, I'll wanna hear all about your year in Barcelona!! Hope Spain is treating you well! :) x

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  3. wow, simply wow. I don't think I would have been able to do nyc by my own but I also have the language issue. I don't mind exploring cities by my own but nyc is massive, I remember I had so much troubles getting around using the iPhone compass!!!
    Anyway I definitely relate with the confidence attitude, it really helps a lot even though sometimes I found myself so far away from where I was supposed to be, only for not having check out the map in front of everyone!(:
    NYC is magical, I wanna go back soon...

    love your photographs and how you edit them,
    xx Cate // kateidoscope

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