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What Mistakes Should Tourists Avoid While Visiting New York City? Solved!

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 6, 2023

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Tourists flock to New York City every year, eager to experience the city's culture, attractions, and nightlife. The city is one of the most exciting and vibrant places to visit, but it also has unique rules that must be followed.


Tourists must be aware of the potential pitfalls that can occur while visiting New York City. If you don't want to find yourself in a sticky situation while visiting New York City, here are some mistakes you should avoid:

1. Not Planning

Young woman using interactive touch screen city display to check for information, New York City, USA.

Planning is essential for any visit to New York City. Researching the different attractions and creating an itinerary before your trip. This can help you ensure you can experience all of the city's must-see sights and save time by allowing you to plan an efficient route from place to place.

Additionally, if there are any special events or exhibitions that you want to attend - like Broadway shows or museum exhibits - make sure you get tickets in advance. Doing so will ensure you don't miss out on your top activities while in town!

2. Not Following the Local Rules

Close up of Courthouse building, New York City, USA.

New York has many laws and regulations that visitors should be aware of - such as the smoking ban in parks or not drinking alcohol in public places. Not following these laws could result in fines or even arrests.

For those unfamiliar with local rules and regulations, it's best to err on the side of caution and avoid activities like smoking, drinking in public places, and other illegal acts while visiting the city. Doing your research before arriving or asking an expertly trained local guide may help ensure that you don't break any laws unknowingly!

3. Forgetting to Budget

Woman waiting to cross the street in downtown Manhattan - New York City

With its vast array of restaurants, bars, and attractions, New York can be expensive. Tourists should budget ahead to know how much money they have to spend on each activity during their stay. This can help you experience all the great things the city has to offer without breaking the bank!

It's also important to factor in additional costs like taxes and tips when making your financial plan for an NYC trip. You should also research whether or not any restaurants or attractions you're interested in visiting have group discounts that could save you some money.

4. Underestimating Commute Times

New York traffic, USA

Depending on where you're staying and what you're doing during your trip, commuting across New York City can take significant time - even using public transportation!

Tourists should do their research before planning a day of sightseeing or meeting up with friends. This includes looking into transportation routes, expected wait times, and any potential delays that may occur. Planning could mean arriving on time for your appointment or missing it entirely!

5. Being Unprepared for Crowds

View of crowded Times Square in New York City

During the peak tourist season, New York City can become very crowded with people from all over the world! Tourists should know this and prepare for large crowds if they visit popular destinations like Times Square or Central Park. It's always best to factor in extra time when navigating the city, especially during peak times.

Wear comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for walking considerable distances, as standing still in a densely populated area can be difficult. Additionally, having a map or directions downloaded onto your phone before setting out is recommended so that you can stay aware of the unfamiliar place. Being aware of potential crowds and preparing accordingly will help ensure you have an enjoyable experience wherever you go!

6. Failing to Carry Identification

Passenger holding a US Passport

Always make sure you have a valid ID with you at all times while visiting New York City. Not having proper identification can lead to difficulties should the need arise for hotel rooms, crossing the border, catching your flight, purchasing alcohol, etc.

It's essential to take special precautions to protect your identity and personal documents relating to citizenship or residency status. Ensure that any wallets or purses containing such documents are securely stored and not left unattended in public places. Taking these steps can help ensure your travels through the city go as smoothly as possible!

7. Misusing Cash Cards

Modern VIP bank card.

Credit cards issued outside the US may come with hefty fees for use in the United States, so make sure you understand the associated costs beforehand. These calculations can help you determine whether or not it's worth using a foreign card while traveling in New York City.

Additionally, keep track of receipts when making purchases with cash cards so that you can quickly and easily settle any disputes if necessary. These small steps can go a long way to ensure a safe and comfortable stay in America's largest city!

8. Making Unsafe Decisions at Nighttime

Abandoned Alley in Chinatown

It is always essential to take extra safety precautions when traveling in the evening. Whenever out exploring New York City, it is best to avoid walking alone after dark or venturing down dark alleyways. Instead, stay with friends or family to ensure you are not putting yourself in an unsafe situation.

Make sure you also have a reliable way of contacting help if ever needed - carrying a cell phone can be especially useful for this purpose and gives peace of mind while traveling in the city. Additionally, look into any additional tips and advice that apply to the area you're visiting, such as avoiding certain areas after sundown.

9. Ignoring Helpful Locals

Friends Having Fun on Rooftop, New York City

As a tourist, it is always beneficial to take advice from locals about where to explore and experience authentic New York City culture. This knowledge can be invaluable, as it can bring you experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

However, it is also important to remember that not everyone has good intentions when speaking to strangers, so discretion should always be used. Make sure to ask questions before agreeing to anything, and if the person seems untrustworthy or overly pushy, then it is best to excuse yourself and find help elsewhere politely!

The above tips should help you have an enjoyable and safe experience while visiting New York City. Remember, the Big Apple can be an incredible experience you will remember for years. Always keep your wits about you, follow these tips, and enjoy exploring the city! If you're planning your next visit, consider checking out our full article dedicated to the top things to do in New York City.

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