Why I Hate New York: Terrible Travel Companions


Lauren in New York
Pre-panic attack before taking on the dizzing heights of the Rockefeller Centre...

I don’t like New York.

I’d go as far as to say it’s my least favourite place on the planet. And I’m pretty much the only person I know who feels this way.

I had a discussion about this with a friend the other day, and it suddenly struck me: the reason why I don’t like New York is not so much because I don’t like the place itself, but because of who I went with. It entirely influenced my opinion and view of the place.

All I have are bad memories from a dreadful week spent there.

However, I was stupid in the first place. I decided to go away with someone I’d met only a couple of times, for a few hours at a time. I barely knew him at all. In the few times we had met up, we always seemed to get along and have a laugh, so when he messaged me and told me he was thinking about going to New York and did I want to go with him… Well, I jumped at the chance!

Badass

We met up on the day we were due to leave, and within literally about 10 minutes of being together, he was already starting to grate on me. His accent was so much stronger than I remembered, which meant I couldn’t understand a word he said – more than a little frustrating as I don’t like constantly saying what? every two minutes! On top of that he was carrying an ENORMOUS camcorder with him, straight out of the 90s, and insisted on filming me pretty much non-stop — when I wasn’t even doing anything! It started to really piss me off, and it was also a little bit creepy too!

After allowing him to book a hotel before we left, I discovered we were 30 minutes away from anything. And it was scary too, as in, you could hear gunshots at night. On top of that – he’d booked us a room with a double bed, knowing that I had a boyfriend back home!

If I had booked it, I would have checked out the local hotels to make sure there was enough space for me to have some privacy and my own bed! One thing I did learn from this trip is to never let someone else take care of finding my accommodations.

The trip itself… Well, lets just say I discovered we were two completely different people. I mean, I like to wander around aimlessly — this guy wanted to march everywhere at a ridiculous speed, and for 12 hours straight! By the end of the week we spent there my feet were covered in blisters and I could barely walk.

Other treasures from the trip involved him laughing at me when I had a panic attack, laughing hysterically when hearing someone on the TV say “oral” (seriously??), not allowing me to watch anything I wanted on the TV because he was “The Remote Master” (no lie..), and buying me a copy of the Karma Sutra as an early birthday present. Wow.

Pre-panic attack before taking on the dizzing heights of the Rockefeller Centre…

It was incredibly overwhelming having to follow this guy around the city 24/7.

While marching along, his eyes were attracted to yet another shop filled with the same generic NYC knick-knacks as the last 20 he found on the way. Not being able to take anymore, I told him I’d wait outside. As I stood there silently cursing him a devious plan was hatched — a peek into the store, a peek down the street, another peek into the store, another peek down the street… The coast was clear!  As he was holding yet another I <3 NY t-shirt I made a mad dash down the street as if my life depended on it!

Finally feeling blissfully happy, I called my boyfriend excitedly to tell him of my masterful plan. Unimpressed with my covertness, he sternly told me I had to return back and find him. Sadly, I realised he was right and trudged back to find him. Surprisingly, he hadn’t realised I’d even gone and was now on the other side of the shop trying on the $1 pot leaf gold chains…

My entire trip consisted of long phone calls to my parents and boyfriend saying how miserable I was, and how I just wanted to go home.

Every memory I have of my time in New York involves me being pissed off, frustrated, and wanting to go home.

Because of my anger and frustration, everything seemed to be intensified — the buildings looked taller, making me feel claustrophobic. The people seemed busier and ruder, making me feel inferior and out of place. I just wanted to escape, get out of there as soon as possible, and I’ve never been happier to leave somewhere before in my life.

I’m sure one day I will return, and if it happens to be with someone that I like, then I’m sure I’ll like New York a lot more than I do now.

It just goes to show how the people you’re with can really influence your experiences whilst you’re away. It really can make or break the trip.

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52 Comments

  1. Jeremy Branham
    May 27, 2011
    Reply

    Wow, what a horrible trip! Seemed like you pick the absolute wrong to travel with. I can’t say I’ve experienced anything close to this and I hope I never do! Have you talked to the guy since this trip?

    • Lauren
      May 27, 2011
      Reply

      It’s funny, due to a fortunate sequence of events, we were sat at opposite ends of the plane when we landed back in London. As soon as the doors were opened I was running as fast as I could out of the airport without saying goodbye to him! Never spoken to him again!! I wonder what happened to all the camcorder footage of me….!!

  2. Rebecca
    May 27, 2011
    Reply

    Just swap NYC for Rome for me! Granted, the reason I am so blah on the city is for a different reason (was at the end of my first trip to Italy and I had been away from home for 7 weeks, which was a long time to a 15 year old, altho with my family, I just wanted to get home NOW), I still get SHOCKED looks when I tell people I hated Rome. I’ll give it another chance someday (it’s been 14 years since, ek) but not in the far future at this time.

    But man, your trip sounds so creeeeepy!!!

    • Lauren
      May 27, 2011
      Reply

      Oh yeah, the reactions I get from people when I say I hate New York are amusing… Some people are ready to disown me as a friend for it!

  3. Jaime
    May 27, 2011
    Reply

    Yeah swap NYC with LA for me. I had a similar issue… I went with my best friend though and we had issues. All he wanted to do was chill at the hotel pool or go to the movies… UMMMM those are both things I can do at home. I did not go to LA to do that. So of course I did my thing but the entire time he was just grouchy about everything. Yeah so now I see exactly what you mean & it is 100% true. As for you Im sorry you had to go through all that… he sounds like an immature guy but I must admit when I read “oral” I giggled…lol!

    Oh & PS I LOVE NYC HAD SOME OF THE BEST NIGHTS OF MY LIFE THERE. I got tons of photos of the trip on my blog.

    • Lauren
      May 29, 2011
      Reply

      I LOVE LA!!!

      Hahahaha, we were watching tv, and someone on there said “I’ve got my oral exam tomorrow”, and this guy full-on laughing HYSTERICALLY for literally about TEN minutes!!! I just glared at him!

  4. Ana
    May 27, 2011
    Reply

    That sounds awful, its exactly why I want to travel alone. Sometimes even when I was traveling with my best friends it would get to that point you mentioned, where after the 20th shop you start to wait outside… Of course your story sounds 1000x worse! I agree completely that who you travel with can make or break your trip.

    • Lauren
      May 29, 2011
      Reply

      Yeah, being in such close proximity, you really get to know them, and all the little things they do start to really bug you…

  5. Sarah
    May 27, 2011
    Reply

    This post is so well-timed for me! I had a similar experience about 2 months ago when I went with SEVEN co-workers/ friends to the Phillipines for a week. For some of them, it was their first time out of the country.

    I hated being miserable in such a fantastic place….so much so that I went back with ONE travel buddy one month later! I basically had a “re-do” of a trip and even if it wasn’t the most financially smart thing I have ever done, it was definitely worth it!

    • Lauren
      May 27, 2011
      Reply

      Oh, I think that’s a really good thing to do, especially if it helped to give you a more positive opinion of a place.

      I’ve gotta do a re-do trip at some point!

  6. Abhijit
    May 27, 2011
    Reply

    That sounds awful! Maybe that’s why solo travel is not such a bad idea – at least, you get an unbiased experience of the place.. especially, for someone who likes to wander aimlessly :)

    • Lauren
      May 27, 2011
      Reply

      So true, but having said that, the best trips of my life were spent traveling with my now-ex-boyfriend. We were really similar with our preferences in travel so it just worked really well.

  7. Louise
    May 27, 2011
    Reply

    It’s funny – I’ve never thought about it before, but what you say makes asolute sense and it does explain why there are a few places that I don’t really like. I just hope that I’ve never been the person on a trip that made someone else dislike a place :p
    Great blog by the way :)

    • Lauren
      May 27, 2011
      Reply

      Hahaha, oh yeah – I hope I haven’t either!

  8. Connie
    May 27, 2011
    Reply

    Everyone’s experiences of a place really does have a lot to do with who they’re with and what state of mind they’re in. Unfortunately, you just didn’t have a great travel companion. Though, to be honest, I would have at least taken a few days to travel on my own and do things at my own pace. I really don’t have patience with people like that and I hate to let someone ruin my time, especially traveling.

    • Lauren
      May 27, 2011
      Reply

      Had this happened now, I would have done just that for sure!

      But I was 18, and it was my first time out of the country without my parents so I didn’t think that could be an option at all. Plus, he was so demanding that I don’t think he would have LET me go off on my own either! I also think it was made worse by the fact that we were staying in such a dodgy area and I would not have felt safe alone.

  9. Lauren
    May 27, 2011
    Reply

    I HATE that! I’m such a morning person that it really bothers me when people waste half the day because they’re sleeping!

  10. Justin Morris
    May 27, 2011
    Reply

    Oh mate I know exactly what you mean. I met some Aussie blokes in Stockholm in the hostel and we decided to go out and have some beers. The whole time they were just OBSESSED with trying to score some birds. All like “yeah this bar is shit, there’s no chicks, let’s find somewhere else”. They were just too super horny and on the prowl for me to handle, especially while I’m trying to get a feel for a new place and just relax with a beer..

    • Lauren
      June 14, 2011
      Reply

      Yeah, that doesn’t sound like much fun at all!

  11. Vi@Travel Tips
    May 28, 2011
    Reply

    I surprised so many people complaining about bad company. You are not chained to each other so just take time for yourself. Except you afraid to wander around the big cities alone.

    • Lauren
      May 29, 2011
      Reply

      I think it depends on circumstance. For me at least, I was completely afraid as the place we were staying had people wandering around with guns! I’m not going out on my own around them…

      I think also because my friend invited me to come out with him for a few days, I felt it would be rude to agree and then abandon him and leave him on his own the whole time… I couldn’t do that. Then he’d be the one complaining about his crappy travel companion who agreed to go away with him and then abandoned him and left him on his own on his first time abroad…

      Circumstances are everything.

      • Vi
        May 29, 2011
        Reply

        “Circumstances are everything.”
        Maybe…But in any case you must talk to person you are not happy with as he probably never understood he was doing something wrong and didn’t get why you run away at airport :)

        • Lauren
          May 29, 2011
          Reply

          I should have done that for sure! But I was 18 and silly and thought it was the best thing to do!

  12. Angela
    May 28, 2011
    Reply

    I didn’t enjoy my trip to Spain a couple of years ago for the person I was traveling with, a girl this time. I went with her because I thought at least I wouldn’t have been alone. Nothing wronger. I ended up wandering alone as she was very little interested in visiting whatever. I didn’t know her very well, so it was also my mistake to organize with her. From that experience, I’ve always preferred to travel alone, unless I know the people very well.

    • Lauren
      June 13, 2011
      Reply

      Yeah, it’s definitely best to travel with someone you know pretty well… And if you don’t know them well then you soon will after staying in such close proximity with them. Same as when I moved in with friends whilst staying at university – thought they were amazing people but after living with them for a few months I couldn’t stand them!

  13. Liv
    May 28, 2011
    Reply

    I think the stubborn refusal to abandon a drainer while travelling is something to do with fear and something that people do when they’re young. I’ve been lucky enough never to be in this situation, but I have friends who have stuck it out!
    It takes courage to head off to new places alone, but is definitely worthwhile. You can be as selfish as you want with your itinerary and you make more friends when you’re alone too.
    In terms of the effect it has on how you feel about a place – you are far more likely to be objective when you’re not rattled!

    • Lauren
      June 13, 2011
      Reply

      I agree with you 100%, and my fear and age definitely affected how I behaved. And now I’m off to travel solo, so lets see how that works out! :)

  14. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy
    May 29, 2011
    Reply

    I’ve had some experiences like that but I try not to let it affect my perception of the place itself. It is definitely true that your company has a big effect on how much fun you have!

    • Lauren
      June 13, 2011
      Reply

      It definitely does! Now I’m a lot older and more mature, I definitely would try and do all I could to prevent someone from ruining my impression of a place!

  15. Ian [EagerExistence]
    May 31, 2011
    Reply

    I travelled with a girlfriend after 1.5 years of being together to Thailand. Same thing. You think you know a person, then you travel with them.

    I still love Thailand though, but it was difficult looking past all the “it’s too hot”, “I don’t want to do that”, etc.

    I say you should have run for it. And just told him when he asked…. the truth.

    • Lauren
      June 13, 2011
      Reply

      Looking back, I should have done 100%, but I was young and scared, so I lied and stuck it out whilst being completely miserable!

  16. jade
    June 2, 2011
    Reply

    I feel this same way about Beijing. It was dreadful! I really don’t know if I ever want to go back!

    • Lauren
      June 13, 2011
      Reply

      Hahaha, if you don’t like it because of the people you were with then you should definitely go back and give it another chance!

  17. Tim
    June 5, 2011
    Reply

    I myself almost unfollowed you after reading the title, but fortunately I read the rest of the post first. After reading your description, I’d say your opinion is excused — but I hope you someday get to visit the city with someone worth visiting it with (preferably who lives there)! :D

    • Lauren
      June 13, 2011
      Reply

      I hope so too! I will do one day when I get round to heading out that way :)

  18. Jeff
    June 9, 2011
    Reply

    Yeah, that’s a shame you had that type of experience. NYC is a GREAT city and a lot of fun. But then, if you’re w/ the right person, that makes all the difference in the world.

    Hopefully one day you can go back, alone or w/ someone you get on with, and enjoy the city and all it has to offer!

    • Lauren
      June 13, 2011
      Reply

      Everyone seems to love it except me!! I’ll return in a few years, for sure :)

  19. ellie
    June 14, 2011
    Reply

    Hey! I live in NYC! And you are damn well coming to visit!!!! <3

    • Lauren
      June 14, 2011
      Reply

      Hahahaaha Ellie!! I shall come and visit!!! :D

  20. Lauren
    June 14, 2011
    Reply

    Definitely makes sense, and it’s a shame…

  21. Jeff
    June 14, 2011
    Reply

    One thing I will say is that traveling alone can be a lot of fun. I traveled from KC to San Jose in December to see Roger Waters two nights in a row and went alone on purpose. I sincerely did not want anyone to ruin those shows.

    And they were freaking awesome. Five times I’ve seen Roger now and four have been alone! LOL

    • Lauren
      June 14, 2011
      Reply

      Oh, that’s awesome! I’ve seen Roger 3 times alone, and the other5 times have been with friends. To be honest though, I prefer to see gigs with friends. When I’m alone I can’t enjoy myself as much, it’s not as much fun dancing around on my own! Buuut, as has been the case for me, if you have nobody to go with then it’s much better to go alone than not go at all!

      • Jeff
        June 14, 2011
        Reply

        Yeah, and The Wall is deep. As in… D-E-E-P. Most of the people I know would have missed the subtleties and just sang and danced to ABITW II.

        This show is an amazing experience. Just breathtaking, and being able to take it all in and NOT be bothered… that was nice.

        I so hope he comes back to the States… I want to see this show again. And again! LOL

        The Thin Ice… Goodbye Blue Sky… Vera… Bring The Boys Back Home… there’s so much our world leaders could learn if they would see this show.

        Best wishes on your journey!

  22. Jen
    February 23, 2012
    Reply

    Urgh, he sounds like a total dick! I hope you do go back and have a fabulous time though!! xxxx

  23. Alex B
    October 13, 2014
    Reply

    Oh gosh. Sounds like my experience in Morocco (but instead of the people I was traveling with it was the entire population of the country) that made me hate it. I hope since this post you’ve returned to New York because not only is it an incredible city, it’s an incredible STATE. If you ever need any suggestions of where to go, I can give you a list a mile long!

    • Lauren
      October 13, 2014
      Reply

      I’ve returned to NYC several times since. While I haven’t fallen in love with it (I’m not much of a big city person) I like it an awful lot more now! :-)

  24. Jeanne Lynn
    October 14, 2016
    Reply

    I know this is an old post, but you really should give NYC another try someday. I live in NY State, but about a 9 hour train ride away from NYC, so it’s pretty far. I think NYC is the coolest place I’ve ever been.

    However, the first time I went, I hated it. I cried! It was about 90 degrees, I was dying from heat exhaustion and it was so crowded. We were in Times Square and by the Freedom Tower. I begged my husband to take me home! I had the feeling I was going to be murdered or robbed at any second. It was surreal. I felt like I was in some bizarre alternate universe. I also suffer from anxiety and crippling panic attacks. After one day in NYC, I ruined my favorite pair of sandals and had quarter-sized blisters all over my feet. The strap broke and I was limping all over like an idiot.

    For our next trip, we went to New Orleans, which was great, but also very crowded and somewhat terrifying, especially on Bourbon Street. We stayed at a friend’s house in the hood and we could hear the gunshots! But the food was great. :)

    I decided to try NYC again because I was troubled that I had such a terrible experience and I felt like a wimp that I’d let NYC defeat me. But this time, I spent more money for a hotel in Manhattan on W 44th Street. We stayed away from the busy areas as much as possible, like Times Square unless we had to pass through them to get somewhere else.

    We walked around Chelsea and the Village and it wasn’t crowded at all. I wore well-broken in sneakers to avoid blisters which are dangerous for me as I’m diabetic. We stayed for 5 nights and I saw so many amazing things. I love old churches and seeing Trinity Church (with that amazing cemetery) and St. Patrick’s Cathedral was thrilling. The NY Public Library was incredible. While strolling through Greenwich Village, we came across the White Horse Tavern where Dylan Thomas drank himself to death. The stores were amazing. We didn’t do any of the crowded touristy activities like the Empire State Building (the thought of being in a packed elevator going up 100 floors is too much for me to bear) because they’re expensive and the crowds make me nervous.

    We just explored, visited the parks and historical places, ate great food and chilled out. I think you need at least 5 or 6 days, so you don’t have to rush around.

    The hotel was expensive ($300 a night), but I found everything else was pretty reasonable, with prices usually less than what I pay where I live, so it balanced out.

    My husband goes to bed early and I’m a night owl, so I went out exploring by myself at night. A few homeless people asked for money, but it was otherwise peaceful.

    It’s good to read up on the common scams that happen in NYC so you can be ready if they approach you. Like, if you see someone dressed like Elmo or Cookie Monster, RUN! They want you to take your picture with them and then they demand money.

    We’re going back in a few weeks and I can’t wait. It’s such a fabulous city, especially if you read a couple books of NYC history beforehand. You should try it again and go with someone less annoying!

    I love your blog! I’m very trouble-prone too so I can identify with all of your travel mishaps!

    • Lauren
      October 20, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks so much for the detailed comment, Jeanne! It sounds like we’ve had similar experiences in New York. I actually did manage to make it back a few years ago and had a much better experience! I was travelling with someone I liked, we were in a much more central area, and I wasn’t afraid of everything. Now I don’t hate New York at all! :-)

  25. Kevin
    June 19, 2018
    Reply

    I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad trip. NYC is PERFECT for wandering aimlessly. I only live a 2-hour train ride so I got there for day trips and weekends several times a year. Typically what we do when we go is choose a neighborhood or two, and just wander it.

    If you ever go back, I highly recommend the Upper West Side and East Village in Manhattan and then to get on over to Brooklyn and explore Park Slope, Fort Greene, and Brooklyn Heights/DUMBO. They are all perfect for lazy wandering. :)

    • Lauren
      June 21, 2018
      Reply

      Oh yes! I’ve been back many times since writing this article, and love the city now!

  26. AP
    May 3, 2019
    Reply

    Wait. You went to New York with a guy you had met twice while you had a boyfriend? Who also stayed back home? Thats weird on levels I cant even begin to describe :S

    • Lauren
      May 3, 2019
      Reply

      I didn’t have a boyfriend when I booked the trip. And while I’d only met the guy twice, I’d been chatting with him online every day for like 5+ years. We had dozens of mutual friends.

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