New York visitors give the Big Apple money every year. The tourism trade thrives. If you live there, you might often notice tour buses roaming around Midtown. You’ll also see individuals with loudspeakers telling the group about famous occurrences in some building or on any given street corner.
If you visit the city, you might take a sightseeing tour. This is one of the ways you can experience the best of the Big Apple. You have someone telling you about your location and what happened there, and you can take pictures you’ll cherish later as you recall this enjoyable day.
You will notice if you visit the city, though, many sightseeing companies exist. In Midtown, where many tours start, you have competing individuals who talk about their tours and which one has the best features. They always try shouting each other down. They all want those precious tourist dollars.
How can you tell which one has the best reputation? You might do a little research beforehand. Let’s talk about how you can do that right now.
Get Online First
Before you visit the big city, you might do some research about sightseeing tours and also restaurants, bars, and other venues you may visit. You can fly into JFK or LaGuardia, take the train or taxi into the city, and let this town sweep you away, but some planning beforehand might make better sense.
You can peruse some sightseeing tours. Some have websites, and that’s probably better for you. If you spend time on one of their sites, you can see where the tour guide takes you during the day, or during the evening, in some instances.
This way, you can see whether you’ll hit the spots that interest you. Maybe you like The Empire State Building, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, or the Freedom Tower down by Wall Street. You can visit all of them, but only with the right tour.
You might get a New York crime tour instead. Some tours take you around and show you places where mafia hits happened or where famous gangsters lived. You should see all this on a tour’s website. This way, you’ll have no surprises, and you can even buy your tickets in advance if you like.
You Can Have the Tickets Ready When You Arrive
You can buy sightseeing tour tickets when you arrive. You will see ticket booths all around Times Square, and also hawkers that try convincing you that you should take a particular tour.
If you buy tickets on the street, though, you can’t feel sure you can trust the seller. Some tours work out fine, but others might have dubious reputations. That’s why you buy online. You can check out a company’s validity before you arrive.
Also, if you pay for the tickets online, you won’t conduct a cash or credit card transaction on the street. You should always avoid those as a tourist. Someone might run by and snatch your cash or credit card. New York City pickpockets lurk, and individuals see opportunities when they spot tourists carrying cash.
You Can Read About a Tour Company’s Reputation
If you look into some different sightseeing tour companies online before arriving, you’ll learn how long they’ve been around. Some have multiple-decade reputations, while others pop up seemingly overnight.
You likely want a well-established one. A reputable sightseeing tour company should have many reviews. You can see what previous customers said.
If you see one that has many five-star reviews and enthusiastic customer feedback, you can go with that one. If you see several horror stories from previous clients, you can pick one of the many other options.
Check Out Their Website
While doing your online research, see whether the tour company you want has a website. You can look over some sightseeing tours and find out they’ve existed for a while, but they still lack a website and a safe ticket-purchasing method. You want one that has a secure portal through which you can buy tickets with your credit card.
Much like many other online entities, you can look at a sightseeing tour’s website and ascertain whether you’ve found a credible business entity. A thrown-together website that looks unprofessional sends the wrong message, and you should always notice that.
What if You Didn’t Buy Your Tickets in Advance?
If you didn’t purchase advance sightseeing tour tickets, and you’re buying when you arrive, you can still do that safely. When you visit Times Square, you’ll know sightseeing tours abound. Those who sell tickets usually wear red vests you can spot in a crowd.
You can also see these individuals in Herald Square and Union Square. Those train stops attract locals and tourists alike, so the red-vested ticket sellers always target them. They’ll spot a tourist and approach you immediately if you hesitate or seem at all interested.
You should disentangle yourself if a salesperson approaches you. Step back into a doorway or sit down on a bench with your group.
Then, use your smartphone and check out the company offering the tour. If it looks good and you see some positive online feedback, you can buy tickets. You may also find that this company has a poor reputation, or they don’t go to landmarks that interest you.
How Else Can You Pick the Right Sightseeing Tour?
If you pick a random sightseeing tour, it might work out fine. You can visit some random landmarks, and maybe you’ll have a great time.
If you do no research beforehand, though, at least judge the ticket seller’s demeanor. Do they seem friendly? Will they answer your questions about where the tour goes, how long it takes, and where you’ll end up afterward?
Trust your best judgment, and try taking tours with family members and friends if you can. Group travel means safety in the city, so a pack mentality can only help you as you explore.
Image Credit: Photo by Kevin Jarrett on Unsplash