How to get prepared for New York?
What to know absolutely – above all if you are at your first experience in the USA – planning a journey which takes to discover the best of the “Big Apple”?
What to do, and not to do above all? How to choose flights, accommodations and moving?
How to manage the budget and divide the expense? How to plan tours and moving safely?
Questions I received in the last months were many, questions more than legitimate I answer to with a useful and practical vade mecum about 10 things to know before travelling to New York.
“I get out of the taxi and it’s probably the only city
which in reality looks better than on the postcards, New York”
Documents needed to enter the United States as tourists/visitors taking advantage of the Visa Waiver Program (which allows to travel without visa) are necessarily as it follows:
Always and however reckon to book a flight – both you do it alone and via travel agency –paying attention to the airport of your arrival.
Some airlines companies flying to New York City – besides those ones landing at JFK International Airport – use the Newark Airport located in the near New Jersey.
The JFK is located at the furthermost tip of Brooklyn and it can be reached in about 40 minutes by car (traffic permitting), by bus or by subway. On the contrary, the Newark –where it can occur to find cheaper flights – is further and it is necessary to go through the funnel of the Lincoln Tunnel in order to reach Manhattan, with consequent longer travelling times and traffic and fares – taxis, trains and buses – definitely higher.
The best companies to fly to New York – usually also with a very good quality/price ratio – are Lufthansa, Emirates, Delta and American Airlines.
Accommodations in Manhattan are more expensive, especially hotels and accommodations – if they are in strategic areas above all – have their own cost.
So reckon to stay in other neighborhoods – suggestive as well and maybe more local – like Brooklyn or Astoria in Queens, Long Island City or Harlem in the southern area towards Central Park or Lower Manhattan. Choose above all according to the presence of a near subway stop, so that you can reach any place always and however in few minutes.
One of the most important things to know before travelling to New York – essential, in my opinion – is the necessity to get a valid travel insurance covering first of all at a health care level, then civil one, penal matters and cancellation, in case some issues (personal or medical) occur forcing to cancel the departure.
A necessity that should become an obligation for this destination in my opinion, since the United States don’t guarantee any health cover or eventual accidents with penal and/or civil consequences to visitors and since that cancellation is included only in some prepacked vacation packages.
My tip is to stipulate a travel insurance before leaving in order to be covered by far and enjoy New York City totally safe and peacefully.
When you calculate the travel expenses it is recommended to keep in mind – if you are at your first experience in the United States above all – the tip and taxes matter.
Taxes – Always remember that in the United States a tax is applied for any sort of goods and services’ purchases and the percentage of this tax varies according to the state. At the moment in New York is about 8% on the indicated price, only clothing under $110 are excluded from the payment of the fee.
Tip – In every place you’ll receive “a service” – restaurants, cafés, main clubs, but also porterage at the hotel, parking, et cetera – is good manner to leave a tip. It’s a use rooted in the USA by now which should be respected by travelers, especially as regards restaurants and venues for breakfast/aperitifs.
In many places it is automatically included in the check, in other ones it is requested as an addition, with a preference usually 10%-15% according to the quality of the service received. It doesn’t apply to the fast foods, where there is no service at table.
According to me, moving in New York it means mainly use the subway.
Just arrived in the city go to any stop and buy a MetroCard.
It is a sort of rechargeable or unlimited subway subscription which will allow you to save quite enough as regards the number of runs both by subway and the city bus lines. Find here any necessary info as regards typologies, duration, prices and recharges.
If you are in a hurry to reach a place and don’t want to use the subway, you can reckon to use a taxi – you find them practically everywhere – or Uber.
One of the best ways to save if you are going to visit a high number of attractions is certainly buying a City Pass to get access to several attractions with a remarkably lower cost. Among the most used and recommended ones there’s the New York City Pass allowing to get access without lines to 6 (among 10) of the most important city tourist sites.
If you have few days to spend in NYC and you’re going to visit only some museums, then remember that many of these ones offer a half day or night a week with free admission or pay as you wish. It will be enough to check on the web schedules and admissions in the section “admission” of the several official websites.
It is important to be aware that – if you travel with under age and/or in groups of young above all – in New York (and generally in the whole USA) some important limits as regards age are fixed.
It is necessary to be 21 in order to buy and drink alcohol, to buy cigarettes and to enter night clubs, those ones where liquors are sold above all. Always and however take with you an ID to allow verifying your age at the entrance.
Furthermore, if you are going to leave for a road trip after have dedicated a few days to the tour of the city, know that is requested to be 25 (and at least a year with driving license) in order to rent a car without further extra charges tied to age. Besides, an additional insurance for all further drivers under 25 has to be paid.
One of the most useful tips I recommend in order to optimize times and enjoy one’s own stay in the city is to organize also in general an itinerary according to the days in your hands.
The ideal would be to get a map of the city – you can get it easily online or in any paper tourist guidebook – and locate the position of the hotel/accommodation booked and locate the closer subway stop. Then from here assume – according to the tourist sites – to visit the city in sectors, finding paths, stages, adjoining subway stations.
So divide the tour of NYC into areas, noting the stages and eventually the several “photographic” stops.
Find here a 1/3 days detailed itinerary – it can be extended if you want to deepen some areas – with subway stations, indications and deepener links.
When travelling to New York – and generally travelling to the USA – it is recommended to always get a credit card with you.
It is very useful for everything, it makes easy remarkably the extra charges cover phases in hotel, rental car (it is obligatory in this case), purchases and payments, reducing the inconvenience and trouble to take remarkable cash quantities with you.
The credit cards related to the major circuits – VISA, American Express, MasterCard, Diners – are accepted without any problem. Furthermore, reckon that the prepaid credit cards are not always accepted everyplace.
As regards currency exchanges Euro to US Dollar, it is extremely simple to do it in the city, since you can find currency exchange offices everywhere. Perhaps, prefer those ones far from the major tourist attractions where the exchange rate could be more favorable.