{Travel} 10 Essentials for Visiting NYC

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hey guys! Welcome back to another week! I briefly mentioned late last week, that Morgan and I were in New York City on vacation. After taking the weekend to recover (truly, we were go-go-go, so I needed time to rest up and get "back to normal"), I thought I would share with you what I consider to be the top ten essentials to have on any visit to New York City.

As this week progresses, I will share tips that we picked up during our four day vacation and pictures of our adventures in the City That Never Sleeps!

1. Cross-Body Bag. The cross-body bag is the way to go. Having a place to store all of the things you will need with you to get through the long days of sight-seeing is a necessity. When I bought my bag (at Ross) I made it a point to choose a bag without a detachable strap, so I didn't have to worry about wearing it on my back; but a strap that had an adjustable length. Just remember that you will want a bag big enough to store the essentials you will be taking with you daily, but not so large that you take things you don't need (making your bag heavy and straining on your back).

2. Small Hand-Held Subway Map. I know what you're thinking, "But Julia, carrying around a map will make me stand out like a sore thumb tourist!" You're right, it will. But trust me, you will need this. No matter how well you know the city, or are relying on an app, there is nothing like having a map to refer to. Any of the guides to NY at any of the subway stations will have free advertising books to pick up. Grab one, flip through for the map, rip it out, and toss the rest of the book. Having one of these to refer to was a lifesaver for Morgan and me. Just remember: step to the side, away from an entry/exit, to consult your map - you don't want to be the person slowing everyone down.

3. Smartphone. I am not sure how tourists visited the city just ten years ago. Morgan and I relied on our cell phones during every hour of the day we were site-seeing. It is incredibly helpful to use a map app to get directions so you know what subway/s to take to get to where you want to go. But it is also useful to have a smartphone to Google information. I used my phone to look for a Goodwill near us and to find a bakery near Columbia University that sold black and white cookies. Also: invest in a lipstick phone charger to carry in your bag so you can charge your phone on the go.

4. Camera. Even if your smartphone has a great camera on it, you will want to carry a camera with you. I think it's pretty obvious why. On nearly every corner, getting off of every subway stop, turning every corner, there will be something you will want to photograph. It's just the heartbeat of the city! Don't forget: bring extra batteries and your SD card with you.

5. MTA Metro Card. The Metro Card will be your lifeblood while in the City. This is what allows you to enter the subway system and the city bus system. If you take AirTrain out of JFK, you will need to purchase a special card to pay for that ride and add a few bucks on to get to your destination. As soon as you can, purchase a $30 7-day unlimited card. I only found this option at one subway station, but I believe you can purchase them from the subway attendant as well. Find a safe, but easily accessible spot for your card - you won't want to lose it, trust me, I lost mine (luckily before I purchased the unlimited card).

6. Hand Sanitizer. Duh. You can pick this up at any dollar store and it is something you will use everyday, all day. After riding the subway - sanitize. Before eating - sanitize. After eating, sanitize. After opening a door - sanitize. After using a hand-rail - sanitize. Truly, you can't apply this enough in a city full of germs! Bring along: travel wet wipes too.

7. Tissues. Whether it's allergies or a visit to the National September 11th Memorial, you will want to carry tissues with you. The last thing you want is to have a runny nose and be wiping it on your sleeve or hand. Refer back to item 6 for any number of reasons why.

8. Tylenol/Advil/Aleve. No matter how much you walk in your everyday life (for me: basically no walking) there will be nothing to match the amount of walking you do in New York City. By the end of the day your feet, legs, back, head, everything will hurt. Bring along your pain pill of choice - you will need it, trust me.

9. Water Bottle. So important! Between the walking and the humidity, I know I didn't keep myself hydrated enough. One night we went to and Italian joint (joy-nt?) for dinner and as soon as we sat down I drank an entire glass of water, followed by a second and half of a third glass! I did drink water almost every time we waited for the subway. It was a little rule I made so I wouldn't forget to drink all day. Tip: purchase a water bottle with a flip top or sport lid, rather than a a screw-on/screw-off top. It's a lot easier to grab a quick drink that way and keeps your germy hands away from your mouth (see item 6).

10. Wear Comfortable Shoes. By comfortable shoes, I don't mean the well worn, multiple year old flip flops, sandals, or Crocs. You will need a close-toed, flat, supportive, and comfortable shoe to wear. Let's be real here. You aren't a native, you haven't been walking this much and at this speed for months, if not years, so you can't wear the cute little flat or sandal that you wear at home. But, this doesn't mean your shoe can't still be cute! I wore a pair of Puma walking shoes and they were comfortable, breathable, and light-weight. It's not a bad idea to bring an alternate pair of shoes to wear on one of the days just to give you feet a break. Morgan and I walked an average of 20,000 steps per day (that's about 10 miles!), so it is incredibly important to wear comfortable shoes!

If you have been to NYC, what would you suggest travelers have with them?

{I party with these blogs!}


  1. How fun Julia! I have a niece who lives in NYC, but haven't been to visit her yet. Love the cross body bag. Have a great time!

  2. Definitely the map! We used ours a ton when we were there. Cute post! Thanks for linking up to the DIY'ers!

  3. Good items to have…now I just need to save up for the trip itself ;)


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