For those traveling to New York for the first time, planning your trip can be a little overwhelming to say the least.
With so many attractions, accommodation options and logistical factors to consider, booking a vacation in this sprawling metropolis can cause some serious stress – and that’s if you’re traveling with a friend or partner!
For those traveling solo, things can really start to get nerve-racking and unfortunately many are put off by the thought of visiting this excellent city on their own.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of tips for those wanting to hit NYC, to ensure your trip is as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible.
First things first, before you book your flight it’s advisable to apply for your U.S Visa. While the Visa process is fairly simple, make sure you log onto the official website when applying online.
There are a number of fraudulent websites masquerading as the official U.S ESTA website, and when Googling the term many of these will appear in the search results. These companies are trying to rip you off, plain and simple and it’s important to steer clear.
To make sure you’re on the official website, apply here.
Unless you’re literally made of money and can afford to pay for taxis to take you everywhere, when you arrive in New York you should grab yourself a subway pass as it’s the cheapest and usually easiest way to get around.
There are different options available and if you’re in town for more than a few days you should get a weekly pass as you’ll make the most savings that way.
If you’re looking to see the sights and attractions while you’re in New York and let’s face it most people are, a great way to bag yourself some savings is with a New York Pass.
The allows you to see multiple attractions at a reduced cost and you’ll save a packet compared to buying tickets individually.
Included in the options are all the big hitters including the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and the Rockefeller Center, as well as some more unexpected inclusions such as river cruises and entry to museums such as Madame Tussauds.
The pass allows you to pay for a set number of attractions, so you decide what you want to see at the point of purchase and that’s all you’ll pay for. Easy peasy!
It may seem obvious, but so many people get it wrong. The weather in New York can be… unpredictable.
In the winter months, it can be absolutely bitter with temperatures below zero so take the woollies if you’re in town in the colder season. Summer, on the other hand, can be sweltering and humid, although it’s not uncommon for rain during the warmer months too, so pack for all occasions to ensure your back’s covered… Literally!
Big Apple Greeter Programme
If traveling to New York alone can seem intimidating, don’t worry you’re not alone.
Many people who travel to this vast urban jungle do so with a sense of apprehension, which is why the Big Apple Greeter Programme was set up. Back in 1992, founder Lynn Brooks was traveling around the world and she discovered that while everyone she met had a desire to see to NYC, many were put off by of a fear of traveling alone.
Lynn decided this had to change, so she set up her initiative to help introduce and acclimatize people to the city when they arrive. Today her program has over 300 volunteers who give 7,000 visitors a year an introduction to New York.
If you’re unsure about traveling alone, get in touch with the Big Apple Greeter Programme and they’ll explain how they can help you hit the ground running when you touch down in the Empire State.
Stay at Hostels
Although some people are never happier than when they’re in their own company, for many others one of the biggest challenges when traveling alone can be the loneliness.
Staying in a hotel can give a feeling of segregation, especially if there are no communal areas or bars to mingle and socialize with other guests. This is why it’s advisable for people traveling alone who are interested in meeting other travelers to stay at hostels, where there’s a strong emphasis on bringing guests together.
There may be games or activities designed to encourage inclusion, or if that’s not your thing the communal areas in hostels are usually bubbling with conversation, so it’s never too hard to get chatting to like-minded folks.
Hostels can sometimes evoke images of dead bugs in shared bathrooms and loud parties that go on all night long and if that’s what you’re after I’m sure you’ll find it! But most are spotlessly clean, with strict rules in place to ensure all guests enjoy a comfortable stay. Check out HostelWorld for a full list of properties in New York and choose one that suits your needs and requirements.
For those not keen on staying in a hostel, there are some great 4-star hotels in Manhattan that don’t have to break the bank.
Meet Up Apps/websites
Another way to tackle the feeling of loneliness is by using meet-up apps and websites. There are a number of these, and each allows you to connect with groups or other solo travelers. All you have to do is create an account and search within your location and you’ll be in touch with people in no time. The beauty here is you can discuss what you’re looking to do before you actually meet up.
My personal favorite is meetup.com. This website allows you to connect with groups who share the same interests as you, so you know you’re in touch with the right people for you when you make contact.
Just remember to exercise caution when arranging a meeting with any stranger on the internet and make sure you meet in a public place.
Book your trip now
Are you ready to book your trip? To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.
- Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with.
- Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections.
- Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
- Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
- Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there.
- Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership!
- Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then bookaway.com is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
- RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals.
- Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
- World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review.
- SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here.
- Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration.
- Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.