Taxis, Trains, and Trams: Navigating New York City with Children
Navigating transportation in New York City can be daunting, especially if it’s not your usual zip code. Add in a double stroller, diaper bag, some kids and it’s a whole new ball game! The great thing about New York City is that there is a plethora of ways to get around ( Buses, trains, and taxis-Oh my!) The only challenge is finding which is right for you and your kids.
My personal favorite thing to do is wander around the city. Before I had children, I would spend hours just walking while people watching and admiring architecture. When I only had two children, and they were all confined to a stroller, I still kept up this pastime. Now that I have one child walking and two in a stroller, we are way more limited. My big guy is old enough to walk, but young enough to get tired out fairly easily. One of the best things I’ve started to do in the last two years during our city excursions has been bringing my oldest son’s razor scooter and helmet. It folds up small and cuts his walk time in half since he is just gliding along on the sidewalks. If he decides he wants a break just walking or if we are in a crowded area , I can fold it and place it beneath our stroller for safe keeping. It really has made an incredible difference.
On days when we walk someplace like a museum, I know we will be doing a ton of walking within that building and that my son is definitely not making the walk back. This is when I make the executive decision of cabbing it back to the garage we parked in or Penn Station. I wish I had some special secret of how I usually score a cab-like a cool whistle or special wave. Unfortunately, I probably just look like a crazy person as I stand there with my three children waving into the air at every taxi that passes us by. I will tell you though, that organization is key when attempting a quick and easy cab ride. I always make sure to have everything out of the bottom of the stroller and packed away so that I can fold and store the stroller. Alternatively, if you know you will be leaving a place at a certain time and don’t feel like making the mad dash to find a cab, you can always schedule an Uber or Lyft.
I tend to try to avoid the Subway. I know, I know-This is not something I take pride in as a native New Yorker. I am hoping in the next few years as my children graduate from the stroller, we can return as NY Subway regulars, It can be exhausting lugging a stroller up and down if you are in a station that doesn’t have a handicap accessible elevator, however I will say that in my experience I have only once encountered a moment where no-one was available to help. More often than not, without a word spoken, I have had someone lift one side of my stroller and help me get the kids down the stairs ( Those are the moments that leave me shrugging my shoulders and wondering where New Yorkers have gained a bad reputation.) Once we are down in the subway, we swipe our MetroCard and go through the handicap entrance to head to our platform. I have pretty strict rules about the subway platform with my kids. The younger ones stay in the stroller and my oldest is either holding my hand or the stroller. I ALWAYS keep the brake on my stroller until the train approaches. Once we board, the rules pretty much stay the same. I think it is natural to get a little claustrophobic on the busy train cars, I really never like my kids in such close quarters to other people, but its always a good opportunity to have a stranger-danger talk with your kids before a trip anyway. Lastly, I always finish our subway trip off with Purell…So. Much. Purell.
Then there are the forms of travel off the beaten path… I have had the most wonderful adventures with my kids in destinations only accessible by certain forms of public transit. We love riding the NY Ferries to Governors Island. It is such a great place to explore and full of art, places to play, and tons of free events. We love taking the Tram to Roosevelt Island too! It’s such a unique way to travel and is sure to give your kids a thrill. The Island itself is a great little community with amazing views of Manhattan. There is a free bus you can take around the Island, as well. I hope you and your little ones have an easy time finding your way, and if all else fails, you can always ask a local!