Navigating New York as a solo traveller: A guide

In a city of over 12 million inhabitants, visiting New York City as a solo traveller can feel overwhelming. But New Yorkers are actually some of the kindest and most helpful people you’ll meet in a city of such grand size.

Which means that you can easily spend time exploring the city on your own without feeling like a misfit, whilst also meeting a tons of people along the way and making solid connections. So nah, NYC isn’t as overwhelming as it seems, and is well suited for solo travel.

It also isn’t as dangerous as you may have heard. Whilst it’s true that NYC used to be rife with violence and crime, it has since been cleaned up, and, as long as you use common sense, you’re unlikely to run into any trouble. Even riding the metro in the middle of the night is pretty safe, as is walking around most parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn after the sun has set.

To help you navigate the Big Apple like a champ, here’s a short guide on where to stay, what to do, and how to get around as a solo traveller.


Where to stay?

Sky-high hotel prices mean that your most affordable option for getting some sleep is staying at a hostel. But be warned: even staying in a dorm can be pretty expensive (around $50). Yet as a solo traveller it’s definitely worth it as you’ll be about to meet other travellers.

For a more local perspective, and the chance to meet real New Yorkers instead of other travellers, use Airbnb instead. The price will be about the same as a dorm, and you’ll get your own room.


How to get around?

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The metro is easily the best way to get around the city, and definitely the cheapest. You’ll need to pay US $1 for a metro card, which can then be filled with credit (the more credit you load on the card, the higher the discount).

Your other option is to take an Uber Pool, which is a safe, convenient and affordable option for solo travellers – and hey, you may even make a new friend in the form of the other person you share the ride with! Note:  to use Uber in the USA you’ll need to have an American sim card.


What to do?

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New York is one of those cities where just walking around is an experience in itself…

But if you’d like to actually know where you’re going in this huge metropolis, then definitely sign up for a “free tour” with  Free Tours By Foot.  Like many other cities around the world, New York has gotten onboard this new “pay what you like” tour concept, offering travellers the chance to spend a couple of hours with a local learning about the city as they go along. The best thing about these tours is that you’re likely to meet other solo travellers on the tour and make some new friends.

What is your favourite thing to do in NYC as a solo traveller?

If I was friends with a magician, I’d message them on FB and ask them out for a beer. Then once at the bar, I’d plead like crazy for them to turn me into a bird so I could spread my wings and fly all over the world – for free! In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to settle for being a travel writer with an incurable case of wanderlust and a remarkable ability to get lost. @shaunbusuttil #theshaunbusuttil