9 survival tips New York City stuffed in my backpack

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“DESPITE THE REPUTATION, I find New Yorkers to be pretty cruisy.”

My tilted head and single raised eyebrow silently requested my student to explain his Australian slang. Cruisy?

“Yeah, you guys are pretty chill travelers.” It must be because I just taught him yoga, I thought, he’s doing the compassion thing. While the rest of the conversation about our time in India, the other countries we’ve traveled to, and the people we’ve met is rather hazy, this accidental compliment stuck with me.

While this isn’t the first word I would use to describe us New Yorkers, (can’t-be-bothered and blunt are closer to what I had in mind), I can understand the comment. Most of us use disgustingly profane language for no particularly good reason, we walk as if there is a constant fire burning behind us, it’s never too cold to open your window and flip the bird during road rage, and we never hold doors for each other. However, I’ll admit there are a few things about being accustomed to city life that can make us rather cruisy in our travels.

After over a quarter of a century of life in the concrete jungle, these survival tips inevitably snuck into my backpack before hitting the road:

1. High tolerance for chaos

Traffic. Horns. People shouting. Garbage reeking. Performers performing. People pushing. Little brats crying. Moms screaming. Jackhammers roaring. Ambulances blaring. Pandemonium.

I’m convinced that New York is the birthplace of Murphy’s law — anything that can go wrong will go wrong. This goes for everything: public transit delays, streets closed for construction, parades for holidays and celebrations you never knew existed, your favorite restaurant is inaccessible because there’s a protest outside — there is always something.

I’m used to having the not-updated-since-1990 automated voice droning “We are delayed because of train traffic ahead of us. Thank you for your patience” as my regular morning soundtrack, for years. So I felt right at home across the globe when my public bus was delayed for three hours because of a Himalayan landslide.

The same tolerance goes for the disorder of a foreign city whose organization may not be like that of the typical west. In New York, you don’t have time to pick a fight with the taxi driver that almost wiped you off that street corner, because you have a meeting in five minutes. On the road, you may have time, but the unresponsive attitude sticks.

2. Pack for EVERYTHING

New York isn’t Los Angeles, or any other suburban town, where we have the luxury of throwing our entire lives into our car and treating it as a moving house. Instead, before you leave in the morning you better think long and hard about every single business meeting, social gathering, and any other mischief you might possibly get into. On a typical day, I have work clothes, workout clothes, going out clothes, workout shoes, going out shoes, electronics along with a tangled mess of chargers of all sorts, books for waiting, and anything else that may prove beneficial in preparation for the unexpected madness that ensues due to the chaos mentioned in #1… all jammed in my tote. We just always seem to be lugging around a bunch of shit.

When you’re out exploring during your travels, you’re less likely to stop back at your hotel or hostel in the middle of the day. Hone your catch-all packing skills ASAP and you’ll be less flustered throughout the day and less of a complainer about your heavy bag.

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