You’ve booked your city trip to one of the craziest cities in the world: New York City! And what now? Start preparing for it! I just got back from New York and these tips might come in handy for you. Especially when it’s your first time.
You have to request an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) to be able to enter the country. The safety measures have been adjusted for a while now and it’s the best that you request the ESTA as soon as you booked you flight. Because it may take up a little while before you get an answer. They can also reject your request for some reasons and then you have to go to the American Embassy to get a VISA. In the first place you can do the request through an agency (about $25,-) or you can do it yourself through the only official website: http://bit.ly/KfPKQ7 ($14,-). If you’re request is approved, your ESTA will be valid for 2 years (important: if you get a new passport, you also have to request a new ESTA).
PLANNING & WEATHER EXPECTATION
To get as much as you can out of your trip in New York its good to know what you can do and the things you want to see or visit. New York is fun to visit at several times of the year. But when it’s winter in New York, it’s win-ter (nov. – feb). The weather is nice from March until October, so you’re able to do lot more.
In spring and summer you can hang out in Central Park for example or walk the Highline. This is one of my favourite parts of New York. It’s a little escape from the crowded area of the city and there’s a great vibe. It’s an old train route and the track is still there, but it’s only accessible for pedestrians. You can get off the ‘line’ and walk into several neighbourhoods. In the summer lots of people chill out at the High Line.
On colder and rainy days (plenty of them during the year unfortunately) you can visit the museums or do other indoor activities. So keep an eye on the weather expectations before you leave for your trip.
Even though I paid with my debit card several times, still at a lot of places they only accept credit cards. If you don’t have a credit card, it good te request one on time (it can take ups about 3-4 weeks to receive it). An alternative that we have here in the Netherlands is a ‘prepaid credit card’. They should be available internationally as well, you can find some providers online. Do you research though, because not all of them are that beneficial. The prepaid credit card works like a debit card, so you put money on it and when there’s no money on it you’re not able to pay with it. So be sure you transfer enough money to the card. In The Netherlands we have some locals stores that sell the cards instore (Albert Heijn and Primera for example). You pay for the card and also the amount of money that’s on it already (max of about €100,- though). You can also change your money in New York of course, but you’ll pay a fee over the amount. The same goes for taking money from an ATM.
NEW YORK PASS
The New York Pass is great if you stay for several days days in New York. There are 90+ activities you can do with the New York Pass. One of the bigger benefits is that you can stand in the priority line, because the lines can be sooo long at museums or other places. You can get the pass for 1,2,3,5, 7 or 10 days, prices start at $122,-. Here you can find more information about the pass. Don’t get confused with the ‘New York City Pass’. This pass is more limited in my opinion, but it might be just right for your stay.
TRAVEL x TRANSPORT
When you think about New York, one of the first things that come to mind will probably the Yellow Cabs. They certainly are characteristic for the city of New York and it’s great to travel with them for shorter distances. New Yorkers walk a lot or go by metro if they have to be across town. In the city centre it’s a chaos at a lot of times. It’s extra crowded everywhere when it’s weekend (Fri-Sun). When taking the metro in the weekends be aware of the ongoing constructions on the tracks everywhere. So, the best is just the walk or talk some taxi’s on the right block.
FOOD x DRINKS
In New York you can find food everywhere. You’ve got plenty of bars, food trucks, restaurants, and more. When it comes to alcoholic drinks, it’s quite expensive. A beer cost about $7,-, a class of wine about $11,- already and cocktails around $15,- per cocktail. But then there’s happy hour… At a certain hour in the evening the prices are lower and you can drink some more. Less thinking, more drinking!
Since food is (my) life, I always look up places before I travel and look at the ratings & reviews. Good food doesn’t have to be expensive and you have enough affordable places to go. You can make it as cheap or as expensive as you want. It’s important to always make a reservation at a restaurant if you’d like to eat there. Or you can eat there before it gets crowded or later at the evening. But if you make a reservation, you’re sure of you’re spot. To find oud what kind of restaurants, etc. there are I always use the app Foursquare. You can see reviews from people from all over the world who visited the places already. It’s one of my favorite apps when I travel.
TAX & TIPS
When you’re going on a shopping spree, don’t forget that the prices that are on the tags on the products, are without the TAX. So when you’re going to pay for it the price will be higher. In the Netherlands we’re used to the fact that the prices include the TAX already.
People who work in CHR need the tips they get from customers. The hourly wage is really low for our terms, about $4,- to $5,- per hour. You really notice that they’re focussed on being extremely nice to you and excuse themselves very often if the service isn’t optimal. It’s good to know how it works with tips in restaurants. To give a 15% of the total price as a tip, is normal when you’re content with the service they gave you. When the service was okay, you give about 10-15%. When you think the service was bad, you give less than 10%. People here take the amount you give as a tip, very personal.
Hopefully you can use some of these tips and you’ll fall as much in love with this city as I did 🙂