How NOT to Look Like an NYC Tourist

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New York City is a wonderful place to visit, but you don’t want to look like a tourist while you’re there. Pickpockets often target tourists, and other locals may try to take advantage of you. Plus, you don’t want to feel like an interloper.

If you don’t want to look like an NYC tourist, follow these four tips.

Familiarize Yourself With the Subway System

2927045925_828c28256b_oImage via Flickr by Mike_fleming

New Yorkers use the subway as easily as you travel the roads in your town. Taking multiple trains to reach a destination takes about as much effort as driving to work does for you. If you haven’t spent much time using the subway, though, it can seem like a labyrinth of confusing symbols and directions.

You’ll find maps in the stations, but standing in front of them with a confused look on your face identifies you as a lost tourist. Luckily, you can avoid this embarrassment by studying the map online before you head to NYC. Google Maps will also help you find your way through New York’s complex system of tunnels. Just make sure you’re wearing earphones so that no one knows you’re getting directions to a place that any local would know how to find instinctively.

Wear Clothes That Help You Blend In

Most New Yorkers will tell you that their city is the financial and cultural capital of the world. They can’t imagine why anyone would want to live anywhere else. No matter how much they love the city, though, you’ll never see them wearing an I Heart NYC shirt. Those exist for tourists exclusively, so don’t wear one. In fact, don’t even buy one. Stay far away from any store that sells them.

For the most part, New Yorkers dress like everyone else. Some might look a little fancier or a little more punk, but they usually follow other clothing trends popular throughout the United States. The difference is that they get newer fashions before other cities do.

You can explore Amway’s fashion-forward hair and makeup styles to complete your New York fashion look so that you’ll fit in.

Know How to Talk Like a New Yorker

You’re probably not going to shed your regional accent in the weeks leading up to your trip, but you can incorporate some local pronunciations into your conversations. That way, native New Yorkers might spot you as a recent transplant, but they won’t know you’re a tourist.

Knowing how to pronounce Houston Street is probably the most important thing to learn. “Houston” sounds nothing like the city in Texas. It’s pronounced “How-ston.”

Here are some other word-related tips you should learn before traveling to New York:

  • Corner stores are called “bodegas” instead of groceries or convenience stores.
  • There’s no such thing as north and south in Manhattan: It’s either uptown or downtown.
  • While you may think of NYC as one big city, New Yorkers only use “the city” when referring to Manhattan.

Don’t Stand in the Middle of the Sidewalk

With over 1.6 million people living in Manhattan alone, the sidewalks can get pretty crowded. Locals know that they have to keep moving to prevent congestion. If they need to stop to have conversations or check their smartphones, they move to stand against a building so they don’t create an obstruction that slows other pedestrians.

Tourists don’t always understand this. They’ll stop right in the middle of a busy sidewalk to consult their phones for directions. Some will even drop to one knee to tie their shoelaces. No one who has lived in New York longer than a month would do these things, because they’re inconsiderate and potentially dangerous. When you live in a city with millions of people, you can’t suddenly stop just because you feel like it. While visiting NYC, go with the flow, or everyone will know you’re a clueless tourist.

Preparing for a trip to NYC takes more than packing your luggage. You need to learn a few behaviors, too. As long as you follow these tips, you won’t look like the city’s most obvious tourist.

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