Travel, USA

Tips for Traveling to New Orleans

When you hear New Orleans you think of Bourbon St., the French Quarter, Mardi Gras, and other wonderful activities! There’s so much to see and do that it can be a little overwhelming. Based on my 6 day trip to NOLA and research, here are some tips to help you if you travel to New Orleans.

1. Research Ahead of Time

It’s so exciting when you’ve finally picked New Orleans as your next destination but where do you even start? Well, if you check out my blog post on some activities this can help you with learning some of the many things there are to do in NOLA!

From previous research I’ve done, there’s so much to see and do. Tons of options for accommodations, food, etc. The list is endless and it may be hard to narrow it down. The more research you’ve done, the better prepared and stress free you’ll be. So take to the web, browse around, and find things that are the perfect fit for you and your trip.

2. Know the Risks

Like with any area you travel to, there’s risks and safety concerns to think about. The area or neighborhood in New Orleans you’re traveling to will have varying levels of safety risks.

No area in the world is completely safe and crime free. But certain places, like New Orleans, experience higher levels of criminal activity than most places. With that being said, know the risk of traveling here, exercise caution and sound judgement. A more detailed blog post on safety in New Orleans is coming soon!

3. To Book or Not to Book Activities in Advance

Booking ahead of time depends on the type of activity you want to do, when you want to do it, where, and circumstances that are out of your control. It also depends on if you’re the type of person who likes to be prepared ahead of time or just go with the flow the day of.

I believe it’s good to have a mixture of the two. Definitely do your research and see which activities or tours you NEED to book ahead of time and which ones can wait until you arrive. Then, you can prioritize things and ensure you have a smooth trip.

If you are traveling during COVID then I’d recommend waiting a little bit and booking things closer to when you’d like to do them. Things can and do change, and as long as your preferred activity doesn’t need advanced purchasing, you’ll be good to go with buying tickets the day of.

4. Choose the Best Tours

Based on the research you probably did for your trip, be sure to choose the best tour possible! Not only in terms of pricing but also quality. Look up the reviews and see what other’s have said about the tours.

That way, you’re getting a pleasant experience and wonderful memories for years to come. If you go with a tour that’s not so great, then not only are you going to be unpleasant but you probably won’t get the most out of what the city has to offer. It may affect your perspective and feelings of the city. So, do your research and go with some awesome tours!

5. Travel Outside of Hurricane Season

New Orleans is prone to the occasional hurricane during hurricane season. In New Orleans, hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th according to the NOLA website. Some hurricanes are severe and can lead to flooding, loss of power, and destruction of property. Right before my boyfriend and I arrived in late October, New Orleans experienced harsh effects from a minor hurricane where parts of the city had no power.

Traveling outside of this season will allow you to stay out of harm’s way, ensure your safety, and allow you to experience the city.

6. Wear Comfy Shoes and Clothing

If you’re going on a lot of tours, participating in activities, or just walking around in general, make sure you wear the right stuff!

Comfy clothing and shoes are a must when traveling. This ensures you’re not only comfy but able to be out all day/night with as little discomfort as possible. I love a good pair of memory foam sneakers with leggings and a shirt!

7. Keep Valuables Hidden

It goes without saying that you should keep valuables hidden or out of sight. Pick pocketing, robberies, and stealing are too common place in the city, especially with tourists.

To keep yourself and your items safe, its best to keep them hidden. If you need to take them out only do so for a short time and preferably when you’re around others (i.e. tour groups).

8. Alcohol in Public

Alcohol is everywhere in New Orleans! It’s also acceptable in certain situations to even drink alcohol while walking down the street. However, you need to have your alcohol of choice in a plastic cup or to-go bottle while out in public.

So, if you don’t want to waste your drink and enjoy it while taking in the scenery of the streets then take your drink on the go! I did so while on the night walking tours.

9. Don’t Roam Alone at Night

Despite the beauty of New Orleans, especially at night with all the fun bars and clubs, please remember to be safe at night! Try not to travel or roam alone at night to avoid unsafe situations.

Just like any city, New Orleans has its fair share of crime and safety concerns. Be proactive, be safe, stay alert, and if you want to go out at night always have someone else (the more, the better) with you!

10. Stay Near Bourbon St. and French Quarter

Of course, Bourbon St. and the French Quarter are one of the many neighborhoods New Orleans is known for! A lot of the bars, restaurants, cafes, tours, and other exciting events take place in or near these areas.

It’s up to you if you choose to stay near these two neighborhoods or not. Since they are well known you may find that accommodations and everything else may be a bit more expensive. But if you’re looking to be close to a lot of activities and events then I highly recommend it!

My boyfriend and I stayed at a hotel near the French Quarter/Business District of the city. We were about a 5-7 minute walk at best from Bourbon St. and the French Quarter and we both agree that it was a perfect! location

11. Try Small Local Cafes

One of the best things about traveling is exploring some hidden gems or local places to grab a bite to eat or drink. I even took to twitter for some suggestions and got a few from a local in New Orleans!

I highly recommend you take the time to walk around and find some smaller, more unknown places to eat or drink at! You’ll get more authentic feels and cuisines as opposed to touristy spots.

12. Try the Beignets!

When in New Orleans, try the beignets! But what are they? Beignets, specifically ones from New Orleans, are square shaped pieces of dough that are deep fried and sprinkled with confectioners sugar. It’s like a doughnut.

They are delicious but very sweet, at least they are to me. I didn’t eat a whole lot of them because of how sweet they can be but it’s definitely a must when you’re down there.

13. Alcohol is Everywhere

New Orleans is a city known for it’s nightlife, bars, and alcohol! It’s an area where you’ll find that drinking is a big part of the culture. Always has been  since the beginning and always will be.

Just know that alcohol is served everywhere! From the small cafes to the Audubon Zoo (that’s right, even at the zoo you can buy a drink), it won’t be too hard to find a place that serves bottomless mimosas or cocktails. I enjoyed quite a few at the cafes, zoo, and tours I went on in New Orleans.

14. Travel during an Off Season

Although New Orleans is best known for its festivals such as Mardi Gras which takes place in February or March, it’s best to go when it’s not busy.

I understand the excitement and to experience the festivities; I’m sure that’s a great experience! But if you want to avoid the crowds, price hikes in hotels and dining, then maybe going sometime throughout the year.

15. Partake in the Activities

There are a plethora of things to do in NOLA. You can check out a post I did on the activities you can do here.

From museums to tours, festivals, nightlife fun, to Creole cuisines, you have to try some of the wonderful things New Orleans has to offer.

16. Walk Around and Explore

One of the best ways to explore an area is just to walk around and see what you find! Not only is it good exercise but you’ll get the chance to see things you wouldn’t normally see with a tour or a Uber ride.

Some of the best cafes and restaurants my boyfriend and I went to were found just by wandering around New Orleans.