Traveling alone to New York – tips and testimonials – Part 2

Last week, I started a posts series here on the blog, bringing testimony from several people who have traveled alone to New York. I admit it has been amazing to read each of these stories and I hope that they can be inspiration for you! Today, we have more four stories. And for those who did not read Part 1, just click here.

Alessandro Lima Lavinas, 43 years old, Juiz de Fora/MG, teacher. He has been in New York 4 times, 2 times alone. He stayed at an hostel and Airbnb.  

“I always wanted to visit New York and I have been in the city four times, two of them alone. On January 1st, I am going again, alone. Of course that, in a group, things tend to be more fun, but I never gave up on travel for not having company. Speaking of New York, I feel at home, so, the city itself becomes the perfect companion. The first time that I traveled alone I stayed at 34th street and 5th Ave, by Airbnb. The second time I stayed at Vanderbilt YMCA, on 47th St and 2nd. For the next time, I booked Pennsylnavia, but I can still change. I think that everything is very expensive on Airbnb. In all cases, I always try to reconcile price with location. When I travel alone, I stay usually 7 days , so,  I try staying in central regions in order to do a lot of things. But on the other hand, I am eager to stay in Queens or Brooklyn, since my first time in the city I stayed in Harlem for 16 days and I loved it! In my experiences with Airbnb, my interaction with the hosts was minimal. When I travel alone, I try to enjoy the city and shut it all out, then I never bothered to make friends. In fact, I had no chance – but I’m always open. In these experiences, my greatest learning was, no doubt, turn me in English. I speak basic but I always hesitate! When you are alone you have no excuses, you speak or will  you spend your days pointing and making mimicry! In addition to New York, I traveled alone to have Washington DC, Miami and Chile (Viña del Mar and Valparaíso).”

What advice would give to anyone who is thinking about traveling alone to New York?  GO! Do not let fear stop you from knowing the places that you dream about just for not having company! For example, after spending one week in New York in January 2017, I will go to Toronto where I will stay a month studying English. All alone! Take this time to enjoy. Doing what you wanna do without having to give satisfactions to anyone is VERY GOOD!

What is the coolest part of traveling alone? For me, the main advantage of traveling alone is not having to please anyone. If I want to return to the hotel during the afternoon and sleep, I can do it. If I want to walk all day, I walk. If I want to spend 3 hours at Met, no problem. I make my itinerary and change it all the time without explaining to anyone and that is priceless!

And what is the most annoying part? Without doubt, the most annoying part is not having anyone to comment when you are faced with something extraordinary. Looking  Central Park covered in snow for the first time, for example, and not have anyone to talk or give a hug is a price we have to pay. To get over, abuse of Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. Another bad thing for me is to take selfies. I hate it! My landscape photos are great, but my face…

A must-do program for those traveling alone to New York is… take a day and go to the movies! Buy a bucket of popcorn and a spread yourself in an IMax room right in the middle of the afternoon. It’s very good! Ah! And walk !! Walk a lot! With Google Maps in hand, lose yourself in the streets, among the secret gardens around the city, take an ice cream sitting in the parks, or take a cappuccino in a cafe (if it’s winter). A key thing in my opinion is to buy a mobile chip. Even that many places have free internet, when I’m alone I feel safer with my  phone working.

Adriana Petelinkar , 24 years old, Taubaté- SP, financial analyst. She stayed in a student residence.

“I am married, but my husband was not available when I wanted to travel and our money was short. My dream was to spend a Christmas in New York and he super supported me – even if he could not be with me.  I took the opportunity and signed myself in a two weeks English course. Now, my dream is to go back with my husband. But I go to Montreal to study two months alone in January and for sure I will go to New York again to spend at least three days. When I was in New York, I was in a student residence called 92Y residence, wonderful. I booked 15 days of residence along with the course, but I wanted to arrive in New York 3 days before and rented a room from a  girl that I met on a Facebook group. But I did not check the location. Once I got in NYC, I had to go to the ends of Brooklyn in the winter. It was far! I arrived at my destination and called – and the girl who rented me the room did not answer.  Suddenly, I saw a man looking out the window and he opened the door, looked at me from head to toe and says: Get away! It’s not a house. I crossed the street running. As it was December, it was night soon. I pick up my phone and I had only 5% battery. And I realized that I could not type because I was in jeans, sweatshirt and sneakers! It was very cold and my hands were very purple. I sat on the sidewalk and began to cry. A man passed by and threw a pair of gloves on me. I warmed my hands, I could get a wifi signal from somewhere and I only had time to send an audio to my husband crying saying that I was lost! He was desperate, and my mom got high pressure thinking that somebody kidnapped me to become a sex slave! I stopped a girl on the street, I tried to tell the story to her and she was afraid of me, I think. She took me to a restaurant for me to warm up and calm down and to explain better, because I was speaking half English, half in Portuguese, beating the cold chin and crying. She let me use her cell phone and I used Facebook to speak to the lady who rented me the room, but she did not answer! I had the idea to check the group and call in chat the first person I saw who lived in New York. I saw Georgia Rocha. She talked with the girl who was with me  and asked her to let me on the subway to get the right line. I arrived at the station and Georgia would be waiting for me. The time I saw a girl looking for someone, I went and hugged her even without knowing if was her! She took me to her house, borrowed a suit and took me to a party. In the end, my husband contacted the girl who rented me the room and she said she gave me the wrong address because when she typed, she was wearing gloves! And she said that if I were a smart girl I would have gone anywhere with Internet to communicate with her. Well, at the time of nervousness we are not very rational and I tried to contact, but she did not answer.

I’ve always been very dependent on my parents, later on my husband, and when I traveled alone, to this big city, I saw that I could only count on myself on the trip. I learned how to enjoy my own company and I saw that I can turn on my own too. It was liberating and very important to me. “

What advice would give to anyone who is thinking about traveling alone to New York? Set up as much as possible. Do everything in advance and enjoy more. I took my visa missing a month for the trip and as a result, I bought the tickets at the last minute and ended up paying much more. Also, make a list of places you can not miss – but leave aimlessly sometimes and explore places that are not so well known but are also magical. Other advice: I thought corny but have a selfie stick! It helps a lot.

What is the coolest part of traveling alone? The independence to make your schedules, go to the places you want at the time you want.

And what is the most annoying part? Taking pictures. We do not want a whole trip with only selfies right … So we always have to keep asking to somebody to take, if the picture is not good, we wait and ask for another person or we get a picture “more or less “lol.

A must-do program for those traveling alone to New York is… eat and drink somewhere with a wonderful view of the city at dusk and remember everything that you went through to get to this wonderful place! It only makes us be even more grateful and already planning the next trip.

Isa Sousa, 32 years old, Cuiabá-MT,  journalist. She stayed in an apartment.

“In 2014, I worked as a political editor at a website in Cuiabá. I was an employee, but as it was an election year, I gained a little beyond my salary and, with that money, I decided to sign up myself in a month English course, it would be during my vacation. I wanted to invest in me somehow. If I had not used the money for it, it probably would have spent on books and / or clothes and shoes. I was in doubt between Dublin, London and New York when I was closing the deal. Despite having a strong desire to go sometime to New York, the city was not my very first option. At the time, I just chose New York because I knew that while the currencies of those countries could increase, the dollar still would rise less or, at least, would be the least expensive currency in proportion to euro and pound. I had been in London already and I knew that I could not play live a month in London if I have not enough money. In New York, I had the feeling I could eat cheaply or making work. Anyway, it was a feeling that turned out to be real. I did not know I loved so much New York. I was in December last year and stayed until January 2. I understood when I arrived in the city and soon on my first day, I got off at Grand Central. The Brazilian that was my roommate was like lost in the city. She went to America just to work and knew NOTHING about New York. I remember talking admiringly, “is this Grand Central? IS THIS GRAND CENTRAL? “. And she “it is, I come  here every day.” She had no idea what it was Grand Central. And the Grand Central was in my unconscious and conscious throughout life, for all the movies I watched. From then on, I loved New York as if it had always been my dream. The package I closed by a travel agency here in Brazil already included hosting. It was an apartment with capacity for 4 people. I made friends with one of the Brazilians with whom I shared the apartment and also a Venezuelan and a Colombian from my class at school (I studied at New York Language Center). This was not my first experience traveling alone. In 2011, I did a backpacking trip to Europe. At that time, I was afraid. I went through countries like Italy and the Netherlands, and did not know the languages and it scared me. But I thought to myself: you can’t wait a lifetime for a friend having vacation with you, you can not not go there for fear. So, since that time, traveling alone has always been and will always be an option. I do my itinerary, I eat in the time that I want to (when I remember to have lunch, for example), I shoot everything in my time. Anyway, I have the freedom and the commitment to myself to make my trip the best. I also think that serves as a period of reflection. My last trip was in May. I went to Chile and made friends with an Argentine on the first day in the hostel. So, basically, you are never alone when traveling alone. These travel friends just emerging. “

What advice would give to anyone who is thinking about traveling alone to New York? Just go! New York can scare you at first because is a very big city, but you can make it. Be calm, patience and understand that you can indeed get the wrong subway, you can be confuse about West and East streets. You are on vacation. All these stories soon, will be just stories. Of course, as a woman, lonely traveler, I always warn me, reading a lot, knowing whether a neighborhood is dangerous or not, seeing what the best time to visit it. Only say one thing: risk yourself. New York will never let you down. But also, don’t be filled with many expectations. You can be frustrated. For me, the best is always read and search a LOT. I’m not the admired tourist, for example, by Times Square. There is not the kind of place that made me fall in love with New York. But it sure is an interesting place to go, to tell you it was.

What is the coolest part of traveling alone? Give the opportunity for you to know, to make it happen, to understand that you can even be “independent”, but traveling alone is to have the humility to recognize that time or another you will have to ask for help.

And what is the most annoying part? Not always have someone to take your pictures. Hahaha. Or someone to share a few moments.

A must-do program for those traveling alone to New York is… I am a journalist, but a graduate degree in Photography, so, I studied art history. So, for me, is a must visiting museums such as the MoMA, Met and Whitney. Incidentally, Whitney filled my eyes with tears a few times. There are works of important artists to the history of photography as art (Cindy Sherman, Diane Arbus, for example). Incidentally, Chelsea neighborhood is amazing: You will visit Whitney, High Line and Chelsea Market. By far, it was the neighborhood that I’ve ever been a lot in that one month. It also has several art galleries and several bars / restaurants that look interesting. But I would not let go in the Washington Square area, which has the most beautiful street of the city: Washington Mews. I loved the view of World Trade Center Observatory. And one of my first trips (I saw on your blog, inclusive): Bushwick!

Julia Teixeira, 23 years old, Rio de Janeiro-RJ. Production Engineering Student. She stayed in a hotel and in a hostel.  

“New York has always been a passion: before visiting the city alone I had three other opportunities to be there:. two with my family and one with my sister My first trip alone (2014) was motivated by the requirement to take a vacation in two weeks of my internship, plus with the stress that was the post-wedding period of my sister. You know how family is, right? So I decided to go on the next wedding day for my “honeymoon” with the city I love! I took the opportunity to a study English during two weeks for two simple reasons: 1. I feel that the engineering market alone “requires” that you have a minimum experiences abroad. It’s no longer a differential and often in selection processes is considered “prerequisite”, even if not openly declared. 2. I consider my English reasonable, but as I don’t use the language in my day to day, I just loset a little. And it’s always good to practice. Another reason for choosing New York is that it was to get around. This first time I went, I was staying in Ipanema Chalet. My father did not want me stay in a student residence, then he bankrolled this part of the trip and it was great because I was walking to the classes in Times Square. After this first trip, I managed to do it again, now in 2016. I got a little money in a sue that did against TAM, and as I don’t pay for my fligh tickets – (I have employee benefit by AA – up to 24 years), I decided I was going to travel for a week in the middle of chaosof my last college period. Some of my friends were in the city, then I would meet them to some cool programs. The initial idea was for me to staying with them, but as there were some unforeseen, I opted for staying alone. I stayed at the YMCA West Side, for indication of some of Facebook groups. And I say, it was the BEST option! The place is VERY well located, just steps from  subway, shops – and it was very close to Cental Park! The only draw back was the shared bathroom, but it was super clean. In my first time alone, I had no one known in the city, so I was lucky to fall into a very good class in the course. I met people who have contact today by Facebook. We formed a very nice group and made several tours in the city. I had contact with people from around the world, and we exchange ideas about our perceptions of life, world and sharing our cultures. This second time, I met new people fairly. I had a friend who was in the city with her brother and another friend was coming with 3 other people. Then I met many people through it. And it was great, they made a lot of difference in my trip! Traveling alone was a very difficult choice for me .. I am not a person who likes to be alone, but I always wanted to have this experience. It was good for me to have the opportunity to do things for me. I learned to be a little more alert, because I was alone and if anything happened would have to turn around to solve right ..? And it was great to meet new people and I let go a little .. I am a little shy!

What advice would give to anyone who is thinking about traveling alone to New York? New York is amazing! Search about the city, there are thousands of food options, entertainment, everything. Without a doubt, is the most versatile place I have ever been .. I think I can go back 1000 times the city, and every time I get to have a different experience!

What is the coolest part of traveling alone? You can do what you want to do. During the two days I stayed with my friends I felt a bit limited .. I wanted to do some things and they want to do other things… But I knew it could be this way and  I was ready! I like to get up early, like 7/8 in the morning and already go out, even though aimlessly, and get to know the city everywhere. I’m not a night person, then, around 11pm, I was already returning. But I love having that freedom to go 100 times to Harmon without being judged, to go another 100 to  Target because I like a gum that was cheaper there lol.

And what is the most annoying part? The only annoying part of traveling alone is not having someone to share the experience .. sometimes I felt alone because I wanted to talk about something I saw on the street, ask for opinion and had no one to do .. Besides, not having anyone to take photos is annoying too. I bought a selfie stick to help me!

A must-do program for those traveling alone to New York is… it’s hard to say just one! But BIKE IN CENTRAL PARK, in the summer, it’s the best feeling of life! It was a tour that marked me a lot and I have done alone and with friends. It is something I recommend to all who ask me what’s cool to do in the city. Just seeing the amount of people who are there, doing exercises, walking, enjoying an off-life shows, off-shop and off-museum ..Another tour I did alone and loved was going to the Highline, and  walking in the neighborhood .. I spent a wonderful morning there.

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