How to prepare your trip to New York

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I have been to New York for 8 days with my boyfriend at the beginning of october. You may believe it or not, but we didn’t plan this trip too long in advance : we actually took our plane tickets on a whim in August! After this, we prepared a few things but we mostly let ourselves surprised directly there. So, how to prepare quickly your trip to New york? Here are the steps you can’t miss.

Traveling to New York: pick up a season

If we didn’t really think about this, you might want to take it into account knowing that the weather in New York is very changing. Indeed, it can be very cold there (until snow storms!) and the winter lasts from mid-october to april at least. At summer, the temperatures are very hot and nearby Barcelona’s ones.

Going there beginnings of october (from the 4th to the 12th), we have enjoyed a few very warm days (25-27 degrees), but the temperatures dropped very low when we left (at 4 degrees!)
Temperatures really changed during our tip, going to 11 degrees to 27 in one day, and from rain, fog and big sunshine in a few days. If you are sensitives like me to temperatures (I got a cold on the second day!), think about layers : tee-shirts, jackets, sweaters, and also scarves.

Booking your plane ticket to New York

You may think this is the most expensive part of the trip, but I can insure you it’s not! Companies like Lufthansa (operated by United Airlines) or Norwegian offer very attractive prices.
We personally flew with Lufthansa operated by United, and we payed 400€ the round trip Barcelona-New York, checked baggage not included. If you are ready to stop in other airports, prices can even be lower!

Do your ESTA

One of the steps not to forget to go to the United States is definitely your ESTA. This form is basically what allows you to stay on the American ground if you don’t have a VISA. It is mandatory to do, and the security at the airport might ask for it.

Beware of the fake websites, the only official one is this one :
Doing your ESTA form will only take you a dozen of minutes, and you’ll have to pay $14 at the end. YOU WON’T RECEIVE AN EMAIL telling you your ESTA application has been accepted. You will have to check by yourself on your account on the website. It can take a week or two to be accepted, so anticipate it before travelling! To travel safe, I recommend you to print it and have it with you.

Of course, your ESTA will be useless if you don’t have a valid passport 😉

Booking your hotel in New York

Definitely the part you’re gonna spend the most time on preparing. The Big Apple is a VERY expensive city and prices can be super high very quick. To my mind, there’s isn’t even a difference of price between Airbnbs and hotels.

If you choose to book a hotel like I did, beware of the additional fees.

Let me explain : on for instance, you might have very attractive prices or reductions on rooms. But, when you look in details the prices of a hotel, you might find extra fees under the characteristics of the room: “Not included: 14,75% of tax, municipal tax of 3.50 US$ per night”.
Basically, if you wish to book a $1500 room for a stay of 8 days, you have to add :
– 14,75% of $1500, so $221
– $3,5 per night, so $28
Instead of paying $1500 as announced on the room price, you’ll pay in reality $1749!
But this isn’t it! Many hotels in New York impose another tax, the “resort” tax. It can add up to $34 per night or more!

I then really advise you to spend time on the offers of Booking and on calculating every room prices with the additional taxes. Sometimes, the cheapest rooms without taxes are the most expensive ones in the end!

We personally book the MOXY NYC Times Squares hotel, and we haven’t been disappointed. The hotel was super well located (Midtown, very close from Times Square), and the room very modern. Only drawback : our window gave on a wall, so we didn’t have natural light at all.
For a 8 days stay in this 4 stars hotel, we paid $2100 all included ($1840 without taxes).


Check your trip to the hotel before

After 8 hours of plane or more, I am not sure you will be willing to take time to figure out how to reach your hotel ! While preparing your trip to New York, this is something I advise you to check.

We personally landed in Newark, the airport of New Jersey. Since this airport, we had to take the air train to the terminus, Penn Station, and walk to our hotel. Of course, the trip will be different for you according to the location of your hotel !
The air train is a train that just goes to a few stations around the airport ; then you’ll have to change to a regular train to go to Manhattan. the ticket costs around $13 and you won’t have to change during the connection.

Which visits should you anticipate?

There’s a lot of buildings you can’t miss if you come visit New York. To make sure to visit them, it is indeed better if you book them: The Top the Rock, the One World Observatory, museums… However, no need to be a control freak (like me haha) and to book 2 months in advance. The best thing is to do it a few days before, to be sure of the forecast, or directly during your visit, online.
For instance, we booked the Top of the Rock two days before, and we were very lucky : on day D, we had a blue sky and warm sunshine, and the next day, a super thick fog!

However, you can do a list of what you want to visit to budget your trip to NYC. Don’t hesitate to add less touristic visits or events, like conferences, meetups, yoga classes or live concert like the ones at Café Wha?

Do you have to list restaurants in New York?

If you want to! I checked a bit before leaving, but I mainly looked up directly in the city. It is very easy to find a good restaurant in all the city, and we didn’t have trouble to find cool places randomly. (I was also very lucky that my boyfriend lived there before so he knew a few places already!)

If you really wish to eat at places you heard of (on Instagram or in a serie for instance), do a list, but it is not mandatory to prepare your trip to New York.
A list of my favorite restaurants in New York is coming soon here if you want to!


Where to do shopping in New York?

Looking up for shopping places you want to do while preparing your visit might be something you want to do.
For instance, I listed thrift shops or vintage shops in East Village before going there, and it was useful when I wanted to go there and that I had no data in the street.
Apart from this very specific case, you don’t have to worry: there are a lot of shops in New York, and you’ll find your happiness in every district of Manhattan!
If there was only one shop I had to advise you, it will be Century21 (there’s one near Union Square or in Downtwon), which is a giant outlet!

Here it is, you have everything you need to prepare your travel to New York! I hope you have liked it, and stay tuned for more posts on the city very soon!

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