A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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The Coolest Thing We Didn’t Do


For many families, a trip to New York City is on the to-do list. It’s a great destination with an endless variety of museums, parks, shows, and shopping – much of it kid friendly.

But New York can feel intimidating. With so many people in a hurry, a huge, sometimes confusing public transit system, and expensive restaurants, the whole endeavor can feel too big, too fast, too expensive to be manageable for traveling with kids.

Imagine the benefit of having a native New Yorker show you around their neighborhood, sharing advice and opinions, pointing out “lesser-known sights, great little shops, and local restaurants.”

A person who would personally guide you around, teaching you the ins and outs of using the subway and bus system, spending from 2-4 hours with only your family on a customized walk around their favorite parts of the city.

What if this New Yorker, this personal guide, gave you his or her time and insights, stories and advice for free?

Hard to believe, but such a service exists.

Chinatown, NYC

Big Apple Greeters is the inspired idea of its founder, Lynn Brooks. Since 1992 this non-profit organization has matched volunteer guides with small groups (6 or fewer people) visiting the five boroughs of New York. The service is dedicated to making New York welcoming and approachable.

So far more than 75,000 visitors (from all 50 states and 124 countries) have spent a morning or afternoon with one of the 300 Big Apple volunteer greeters and have discovered “the hidden treasures of New York City….”

There are no “pre-set itineraries, tour themes, or start times.” Each walkabout with a greeter is customized based on your interests.

Here’s the rub: Because of the popularity of the service and the personalization involved, you must submit your request for a greeter 4 weeks in advance of your trip.

This is where we lost our chance, having discovered the existence of Big Apple Greeters only days before our visit.

Somehow we figured out the subway, didn’t lose our kids, and found our way around (thank you Lonely Planet), but we wish we’d been able to benefit from the company of a New York native neighborhood guide.

Isn’t that the best way to experience a new place: alongside someone who lives there and loves it?

Read more about Big Apple Greeters at their web site where you can request a tour and get tons of helpful information about visiting the city.


1 Nomadic Matt { 05.04.08 at 2:43 pm }

I think that its great the family is going on an RTW trip! AWESOME!

2 Rick James { 01.24.10 at 9:38 pm }

It took a teeny bit of searching, but I finally uncovered this gem of a post! How fortunate that we are indeed able to book ahead enough to capitalize on such a great tourism notion. Thanks!

Now the four of us just have to back and dig up the link for the James Washington Tour video to refresh ourselves on what we are in for in a few months… (I am hoping Conor knows his way inside and out of the Billy Twitch-Lance museum by now, in advance of our personal tour from him).

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