It’s been over four years since I first landed in JFK and began to call New York home. I’ve lived in Midtown, the Upper East Side and now Queens. I have drank cocktails in the Meatpacking District and whiskey in East Village dive bars. I’ve landed dream jobs and left careers. I’ve broken up and fallen in love. It’s a never ending adventure living in New York with many lessons learned along the way; the following ten New York commandments ring true for traveling anywhere in the world.


1. Always keep an eye on your surroundings.

Some New Yorkers walk around with their head in the clouds, some walk around with their eyes glued to their phone screens; but in a fast moving city where cabbies drive like crazy, people swell up the sidewalks and crime can occur it’s important to keep an eye on where you are. I try to do the same while traveling abroad–to look at where I am and put down my phone or camera.


2. Learn to keep your belongings where you can see them.

New York–like so many other cities–can be prone to theft when you least expect it. Your guard will be let down during your morning commute, your back will be turned while at the bar, your purse will be left unattended in the ladies room and just like that your phone, wallet or entire bag will disappear. While this problem is a headache wherever you are, it is a lot harder to deal with when traveling abroad.

3. Always know your way home.

Whether it’s Uber, a taxi, NYC city bus or simply knowing where the closest subway stop is; wherever I am in New York, I know exactly how to get home. While traveling, I practice the same habit and always make sure I know how to get back to my hotel, hostel, airbnb, etc.


4. Embrace everyone for who they are.

New York is a city that embraces everyone: the artistic, the funky, the geeky, the eccentric; businessmen, writers, painters, dreamers, actors, movers and shakers. One of the most beautiful things about this city is how it accepts people of all styles, backgrounds, skin color, interests, passions, sexuality and beliefs; it is one of the main reasons I came to New York because of how wonderfully diverse the Concrete Jungle is! The city teaches you to have an open mind, to embrace everyone’s story and to love the nuances that make us different.

5. Unfortunately, you can’t help everyone.

One of the sad truths of living in New York is that you’re often confronted with poverty, mental illness, drug addictions and other poor, lost souls who sit on street corners, wander the subways or turn park benches into homes. You’ll give money when you can, give food when you’re able, volunteer when there’s time but no matter what you do; there is always someone else in need–some willing to accept help and others less inclined. It’s a hard truth and one that applies to traveling as well–that despite your best intentions, not everyone can or wants to be helped.

6. If no one is around, it’s for a good reason.

It’s rush hour in New York and the train pulls into the station with one subway car completely empty. You think to yourself you’ve just hit the jackpot–a seat at rush hour!–that is until you realize the subway car is empty for a good reason. Perhaps an unfortunate homeless person has turned the car into their own bathroom, maybe the car has an intolerable stench–whatever the reason, you learn quickly in NYC that if no one is around then it’s for a reason.


7. Confidence is key.

My father used to tell me that half the equation of success is confidence. Since moving to New York, I have seen first hand how simply having confidence in yourself and what you’re working on can make a world of a difference. The same goes for travel! Perhaps you’re lost, perhaps you’re nervous about haggling down a price at the local artisan market, perhaps you’re shy about approaching people and making friends–whatever it is, confidence is key and pushes you out of your comfort zone.

8. Learning to speak up.

New Yorkers are known for their attitude but sometimes that can be a good thing! Living in New York teaches you to speak up, have an opinion and not give in so easily. It’s a lesson that comes in handy when traveling, when it’s important to be honest about what you are and are not comfortable with and speak up about preferences and more.


9. Intuition is your best friend.

New York can be both a wonderful and terrible place, a place where you can feel on top of the world and hob knob with inspiring people or lose everything you have. In my experience, intuition is key when navigating both New York and a new destination. The same way that I whole heartedly trust my intuition should I take a wrong turn in the city, is the same way I rely on it when traveling.

10. Anything can happen…and often does!

The city that never sleeps lives up to its reputation as a place of spontaneity, unpredictability and surprises. One of my favorite things about living in New York is knowing that any day may reveal a new connection or incredible opportunity  just around the corner. The same can be said for travel — it is that same promise of surprise, that same thrill of meeting new friends and discovering new places that keeps me enamored with travel and old, New York.

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10 Travel Lessons I Learned From Living in NYC |