Some call New York City the center of the universe, some call it the cultural capital of the United States. Some imagine Times Square as the ideal tourist attraction, while others would rather wander through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and many come in to the city for work. Some just call the Big Apple home. But everyone - from Bushwick to Washington Heights, from Long Island to LA, knows one one universal New York City rule: Driving in the city is a nightmare only exacerbated by gridlocked traffic and next-to-nonexistent parking.
There are initiatives such as the New York City’s Shared Streets and Summer Streets or concepts like UberPOOL, aimed at - or at least contributing to - taking some of the cars off Manhattan’s roads and reducing congestion in the city. But, for some people, driving is the best option, if not the only one. So, you’re headed to the big city and you’re taking your vehicle with you? Well, then we’ve got a few tips for you, brave traveller. Try these to reduce stress when travelling by automobile to NYC.
One universal rule of traffic: it will make you late. Lateness is stressful. It means you have less time to do all the things you anticipated doing, or it could even put you in a position to miss something - from an important business meeting to the start of a concern. Just assume that traffic will make you late, and pack an additional 15 or 30 minutes into you commute. Hey, if you’re early, you can grab a drink or snack before you make it to your destination. Certain apps, such as Waze, will even help you plan for traffic on your commute by analyzing your planned trip and current and historic traffic data, helping you to leave when you need to in order to arrive on time!
Know where you’re going, and what route you plan to take (or have your phone or GPS programmed to take you there) before you start driving. If you’re not familiar with driving in the city, do a little research on the various routes to your destination - and have a backup. To that end, it’ll save you an awful lot of time and stress to know where you’re putting your car before you get into the city and spend hours combing block after block for an open garage. Try ParkNSave, which allows you to reserve discount parking in advance easily from their website! They currently list 61 individual garages across Greater New York, including several in Brooklyn, Queens, and New Jersey. With a variety of options for passes for different times and places, ParkNSave will help you save a whole lot of time and stress!
Find Your Muse
Okay, so you’re probably not going to be painting or writing a piece of music on your drive into New York, but commuting can feel like a chore. Find something to enlighten, inspire, or entertain you to make the drive - and the time you spend sitting at red lights - a little more enjoyable. For some, it’s as simple as their favorite radio station. Technology makes it easy to bring a variety of content to your drive - you can curate yourself a relaxing playlist on Spotify (or an exciting one to wake you up or get you amped!), or find podcasts and audiobooks to download. Just make sure it’s audio-only; keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel!
Embrace the Uncontrollable
You can do everything in your power to plan, but sometimes things just don’t go your way. This is true everywhere, but the chaos of New York City is pretty universally understood. When you embrace the things you cannot change, you can save yourself at least a little bit of stress. Traffic may screech to a halt, your wheels might not turn towards your destination, or you could even have a breakdown, but the world will continue to turn. Taking a deep breath can help your body to physically relax, and reframing the situation in your mind, perhaps by using this opportunity to appreciate the ubiquitous experience of New York City and to celebrate the human connection that comes from shared experience, may help you to find comfort in even the most mundane of NYC phenomena: traffic.
Hopefully you’ve found a few of these ideas helpful! If you have any other tips for travellers headed into the City that Never Sleeps, the Capitol of the World, New York, New York, lets us know in the comments!