From a Local: Safety Tips for Traveling in NYC

Welcome to the concrete jungle (where we mostly care if you live or die)!

New York is no longer the lawless urban jungle of the 1970s. In fact, in June 2019 crime rates for the five boroughs hit record lows. Unfortunately, gun violence and hate crimes have been rising in the United States at large, and it's frankly no wonder our cultural interest in true crime media has been dominating our streaming platforms.

But none of that detracts from the allure of The Big Apple. Speaking as a resident for over 11 years, we are far friendlier than people tend to assume; but, we are also a city of 8.4 million people with the residential density of 27,000 people per square mile. Sometimes we're grumpy. We drink too much coffee. We have all almost been run over by taxis and bicyclists in too-tight bike shorts. Some safety tips advise you to all but tape your personal belongings to your torso, while others blindly tell you to wander off the beaten path to get a taste of the "real New York." Like all things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. These are your best safety tips while traveling in New York City.

Airport

When swallowed by the insane hustle that exists at JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark International Airport, don't get overwhelmed: No one knows where they're going. As simple as it is, READ THE SIGNS is the best, recurring advice for getting around New York. Whether you're arriving or departing, follow the basic rules: Always keep an eye on your bags, decline offers to carry your bags for you if it's not from a clearly identified airline employee, and don't accept impromptu offers to share rides from a fellow traveler, no matter how friendly they may seem. In the same vein, practice smart stranger danger: Waiting for your flight is boring, and friendly passengers may very well strike up conversations, but never share details about where you're staying or even that you're traveling alone. Make up an imaginary friend, if you have to. It's not rude; it's just safe.

Taxis/Ubers

We've all heard Uber horror stories by now. Safe traveling by paid car includes complete awareness: Who is your driver? When ordering a ride on an app, make sure all of the information verified by your order, from the license plate to the driver's name, matches the car that appears to pick you up. Ask the driver who they're picking up before getting in, to be sure (and don't give your name away first).

If you're taking a taxi, make sure it's driven by a real, licensed driver from the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission. How do you know? "All licensed yellow taxis have a medallion affixed to the hood of the car and each medallion has its own individual number," explains a Public Information Officer. "Medallion numbers consist of a number, followed by a letter, followed by two more numbers. For example, a medallion number could be 4Q88 (this is not an actual medallion number). Besides the hood of the car, the medallion number also appears on the rooflight, license plates, and the left and right side, just behind the rear passenger doors, on the exterior of the vehicle." Furthermore, the taxi's license plate should include the medallion number, as well as a NY plate that says "taxi." Just don't trust a car simply because it says "Taxi."

Also don't do this. This is very dumb.Giphy

Subway

There's nothing like people watching in a subway car. There's always a child having a tantrum, an elderly woman peeling an orange, and a young dude trying to impress the girl he just sat down next to–and everyone has the right to be there. But again, self-awareness is key on the train. While waiting on the platform, absolutely stay away from the edge. Does every other major city in the world have doors or barriers to stop passengers from falling to an electrified or crushing death? Yes. Does New York? No, no we do not.

As for interacting with fellow passengers, you'll want to pay attention to the car you're stepping into. If the car is completely empty, don't get in it. There's a reason it's empty. Whether there's an odor or an aggressive passenger acting out, you should stay with the herd. When you're packed into the train like sardines, have patience and take up as little space as possible. At the same time, be aware of your personal belongings, including your pockets. If you're particularly weighed down with a lot of shopping bags or personal items, do not sit right next to the doors. It's a targeted spot because it's easy to grab your things and run out of the closing train doors. If you ever feel uncomfortable, transfer to the car towards the center of the platform; that's where the conductor is, so you're not alone. This is an especially good precaution to take when traveling late at night.

Sidewalk

First: Keep walking! At least, if you need to pause, do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Simply step aside and let us manic, rushing-for-no-reason speed walkers get ahead of you. We don't mean any harm in brusquely pushing past you–it's just a matter of physics. New York is always in motion, and New Yorkers will stay in motion undeterred by taxis, bicyclists, or tourists who just want a picture of the Empire State building.

Speaking of bicyclists, they will run you over so pay attention, look down, and do not walk in the bike lane. That's the lane with a drawing of a bicycle. It's also usually green.

As far as the panhandlers go, they all have their reasons for being there. Some of their stories will be made up, and some will ask for particular things, like food. Be mindful and use your best judgment.

On the other hand, peddlers who stand in the middle of the sidewalk and try to shove things into your hand are always scamming tourists: Once you take the item, they won't leave you be until you pay for it. Some can be uncomfortably aggressive, so avoid them.

When it comes to buskers, follow this very important rule: If they sound good, give 'em a buck, why not?

General Tips

Just ask for directions! If you're very wary of being tricked, ask a cashier or clerk in a store. Like any city, some areas of New York City are less safe than others. The bright side: Technology is on your side. Crime rate apps or message forums or blogs will let you know that some neighborhoods are less tourist-friendly, like Alphabet City, the Lower East Side, or Hell's Kitchen.

The bottom line: Stay aware, and don't be afraid to ask questions. If you can make it here...then congratulations, you're one of 8.4 million other New Yorkers.

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Finally, we are done with 2020! Between all the highs and lows, it felt like 5 years packed into one, so I'm excited to start fresh in 2021. I'm taking my New Year's resolutions to the next level: cook more, read more, and get back to things I truly love like arts & crafts and morning runs (okay, most likely walks).

Honestly, I could go on forever about the new year, new me thing but actually getting started is my biggest hurdle. I realized that my motivation comes from my mood which directly relates to my environment … and for the past year, my house has been my habitat. So, it's not looking too great after all the wear and tear. The dirt and the mess have accumulated right under my nose.

It's not that I'm bad at it, I just feel so overwhelmed. When my house is clean, I feel much more in control and motivated, and right now it's far from it. When I was venting about my cleaning woes the other day, my friend recommended Handy.

Handy allows you to book local professional cleaners and sign up for monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly plans. Plus, you can schedule appointments at a time that works for you with availability 7 days a week from 7am-11pm. So to get me in the right headspace to tackle my goals, I'm going to be signing up for Handy. I'm looking forward to letting the experts take over.

Although having people in your home may sound a bit strange right now, Handy has rolled out the Handy Safety Standard to help promote the health and safety of the customers and professionals who use their platform. Some of these measures include requiring Pros to wear face coverings during bookings and mandatory daily in-app check-ups to verify they are in good health before claiming a booking. They even have a section on their site dedicated to keeping customers and professionals updated on the latest CDC health and safety guidance.

To top everything off, all of the Cleaning Pros booked through Handy are vetted and background checked. And you can even check out each Pro's ratings and reviews before you book.

Once my house is in order, the fresh feeling will have a domino effect on so many other areas of my life:

✔ Read More

Lying on my cozy couch without inhaling all the dust I'd chosen to ignore, despite my clear uptick in sneezing the last few months. My reading list is chock-full of thrillers and fantasy. And with my new clean slate, I've even added some books about organization.

✔ Get Cooking

Nothing makes cooking more enjoyable than a sparkling kitchen. I'm inspired by a clean space and all the new recipes I'll be whipping up in 2021 already have me drooling.

✔ More Exercise (aka walking!)

I won't feel guilty getting out for a walk on-the-daily when I know I'm not neglecting any household chores thanks to Handy. And when I come home I'm not greeted by any reminders to clean.

You can specify exactly what you want to be cleaned before your Pro arrives and if you like them, you can request to have the same Pro come every time. I can already imagine how exciting it will be to walk into my spotless space.

I cannot wait to book my cleaning through Handy so I can get my 2021 resolutions rolling. My New Year is all about my wellness and my environment plays such a big part in it. I'm signing up for bi-weekly appointments. But their plans are super flexible and if I need, I can always change to a weekly or monthly cleaning plan — sometimes they even have bookings available as soon as the next day!

With Handy, I'm leaving that rough 2020 in the dust and jumping into 2021 feeling fresh and ready-to-go.

Update: Handy is offering a limited time discount for our readers! Follow this link today to get a special offer on your first time cleaning plan.

This perfect low-key vacation is not your average camping experience.

Locations

Atlanta, Austin & San Antonio, Boston, Charlotte & Raleigh, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh & Cleveland, Portland, and Washington, DC.

Getaway's outposts are a maximum 2-hour drive from these major cities.

getaway cabin all seasons

Why Getaway?

It's an escape for the always on. Leave your work, technology and worries at home, and lean into an experience that allows you to reconnect and center yourself in nature.

Each cabin features 1 (or 2) queen-sized bed as well as a full indoor bathroom, both heat and a/c, and reliable electricity. The kitchen is stocked with food staples and cookware and there is a fire pit and outdoor seating. All cabins are family-friendly and dogs are permitted.

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Booking & Price

Book through the Getaway site. Cabins fit 1 - 4 guests and cost as low as $129 a night.

Safety

Cabins are already distanced (50-150' feet apart) from one another and go through a deep disinfection process between guest stays. Check-in is contactless, and each guest accesses their cabins through a personalized key code.

getaway activities

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Given the nature of the pandemic, it can be tough to find the best ways to spend the usual festivities that New Year's Eve brings.

Luckily, if you're comfortable enough to step outside for the occasion, there are great places still open and worth visiting. Although you should always keep COVID-19 safety precautions in mind, here are three of the most stunning places to spend Near Year's Eve in the U.S.

New York City (New York)

No guide to stunning places to spend New Year's Eve in the U.S. would be complete without the presence of New York City, New York. The Times Square ball drop is a must-see annual event, though this year it will be a bit different due to the pandemic. Thankfully, the city will still be throwing an event for all to enjoy that will keep social distancing in mind and focus on bringing people together virtually.

While there might be live events for some to enjoy, none have been officially announced just yet. Even if you're enjoying the festivities virtually, there are few better places to spend this special occasion than at the tip of the NYC skyline.

New York City New Years Eve New York City New Years EveForbes

Lake Travis (Texas)

Lake Travis is a brilliant body of water in Texas that provides a versatile collection of ways to enjoy its beauty. If you'd prefer to keep your party secluded due to the pandemic, you can enjoy the evening on a boat in the waters of this lake, which is home to the famous "Devil's Cove" party destination.

If you're comfortable spending the evening in a venue that practices COVID-19 safety precautions, consider relaxing on one of the three decks on display at The Oasis. Even if you don't stick around to ring in the New Year, viewing the sunset from The Oasis is an incredible experience in itself.

Lake Travs Lake Travislaketravis.com

Cape Cod (Massachusetts)

If you're looking for a quainter way to ring in the new year, consider visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Aside from the cool weather and stunning scenery, when spending New Year's Eve in Cape Cod you can visit places such as the Belfry Inn & Bistro. This lovely location has a focus on good dining, stylish and comfortable living, and COVID-19 safety, all of which they put on display via their website.

If you'd prefer not to spend too much time in a restaurant or bar, you can indulge in the incredible appearance of areas like Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. Simply wandering around the area and taking in the scenery before enjoying an intimate evening inside makes for an unforgettable adventure.

Cape Cod New Years Eve Cape Cod New Years Evebluegreenvacations.com

Due to the ever-changing nature of certain venues during the pandemic, be sure to regularly check-up on any venues you wish to visit. That way, you can remain in the loop on their availability, activities, and safety precautions upon arrival.