If you’re traveling to a new city in this day and age, you’re more likely than ever to consider the stories and reviews of others. You’ll have a look around the internet for opinions and photos, or you might call your friend or travel advisor who visited the city last year. No matter how you do your research before booking a trip, there will almost certainly be some degree of word-of-mouth involved if you want to have an authentic experience. Let’s face it. Deep down, nobody wants to be treated like a tourist. But it’s not always easy to blend in with your surroundings, especially if you’re visiting a place for the first time.
Doing what the New Yorkers do is easier said than done, but it’s possible if you know where to stay. You don’t want to spend the entirety of your trip at tourist attractions, so stay in a part of the city that caters less to those kinds of travelers. Instead of staying in Midtown, stay in Brooklyn or Greenwich Village. The neighborhoods will give you a taste of how New Yorkers live, and you’ll see the city from their seasoned perspective. Acting more “local” makes experiencing the city easier. Natives love to help a curious visitor out, especially if they can see you’re putting in the effort to think outside the box.
When you take to the streets, travel like a local by taking the subway, biking, and walking. It may not be popular to walk everywhere in other cities, but in New York, walking and taking public transportation are standard. There are benefits to you, the traveler, too. When you’re forced to navigate for yourself, you’ll have a better understanding of the amazing size and capacity of the city, and on foot, you’re more likely to enjoy a sensory experience: the people, the music, and the wafts of barbecue or bread.
Of course you won’t want to miss out on some of New York’s most incredible restaurants, but there’s another way to enjoy some of the finest — and freshest — food in New York. Consider the local way: a trip to the farmer’s market. Stroll the market for cheese, charcuterie, and veggies to enjoy in one of the many green spaces. Set down a blanket and you fit right in.
Lastly, to live local, you have to meet locals! New Yorkers are some of the most interesting people in the world, and not making a few friends on your trip would be nothing short of a waste. Use common interests to connect with people nearby. Meet-up Groups are a great place to start, as are lesser-known local festivals and street fairs. Hanging out at coffee shops is a classic way to meet new friends, too. Just don’t limit yourself to cookie-cutter chain shops that you can find in virtually any city in the world. The trick about traveling like a local is making those personal connections and being open to new experiences. Once you allow yourself to step outside your comfort zone a little, your trip has the potential to go from typical and unmemorable to an adventure — beyond the hotel concierge.