Traveling is not a “checklist”: how to organize your trip to New York

One of the messages that most receive from people who follow me on social media and the blog is on the travel itinerary. It’s always the same concerns: people want a ready-to-use itinerary, or they want to know the unmissable places, or they want to know how long they should stay at each place or how to organize each day of the trip. After seeing these questions repeated over and over again, I decided to write a post to try to clarify some points for you.

1. It is impossible to know New York in just one trip – I’ve been writing about New York for three years and I always tell  my husband that we do a lot of things thanks to the blog. If I didn’t post every day, I highly doubt that we would know so many different places around here. Not to mention the restaurants and shops. New York is a city that reinvents itself every day. Did you know, for example, that there are already two more observatories scheduled to open in the next few years? And that Staten Island will have an outlet and a giant wheel like London Eye? You can’t think you’re going to cover the whole city in 7 days here. And for me, that’s why the Big Apple is so amazing and that’s why I’m always surprised when someone comments that “I’ve seen everything in New York.” Everything is impossible. A lifetime here is not enough to take advantage of everything.

2. A travel itineray is something personal – there are several types of travelers. There are those who prefer be comfortable and staying in a hotel and there are adventurers who enjoy a hostel. There are even some who prefer the experience of renting a room on Airbnb. There are also travelers with the most different budgets: people with money to buy a lot and people with money to buy little, people with money to eat in great restaurants and people who prefer to buy snacks and fast food. The internet is wonderful: you can find ready-to-use itineraries on various travel websites and also in Facebook groups. But, do not forget one thing: a travel itinerary is something personal. It is very interesting to check some itineraries to get a new idea for yours. But, remember: whether your budget is tight or not, a trip to New York is not cheap. And then I ask you: are you going to spend all your money to travel and use a itinerary from a stranger? Dedicate yourself, arrange time: it’s your trip. Make it something special.

3. Planning, planning, planning – No use saying you do not have time. We make time for the good things in life, and if you’ve taken the time to search for tickets and to search for hotel options, you can also arrange time to do research for your trip. I suggest splitting your process into stages. First, list everything you already know or heard about New York – places, stores, restaurants, things to do. Then search about the city. In the case, I’ll have to say: spend some time here on the blog. Guys, seriously, there are so many questions that I get and I already answered them here … The content is here, ready for you and for FREE. Access the blog index, which lists all posts, of all categories. It’s very easy to see the content. And search other blogs, other sites, other sources … tips are never too much!

4. Daily planning – After searching a lot, filter out your interests and add it to your list. Then open Google Maps and pin the points on the map, prioritizing what interests you most. Remember that in New York you can easily get around by subway. Google Maps simulates routes from one point to another, on foot, using subway or car. And, this way,  it is easy to organize each day. It is more practical, obviously, to explore an area/ region per day.

5. Traveling is not a checklist – You calculate two hours to walk around Central Park, but then you get there and see that the place is much bigger than you thought. You start walking, decide to rent a bike, then decide to eat something. Time is over. And now? Relax! Traveling does not have to be a “checklist”. Enjoy every moment! And allow yourself to change your mind. That’s why I confess I think it is funny when I see timed itineraries. Planning is great, yes, but do not feel bad if you can not do everything you put on paper. This city is so intense that it is a waste to go to the places just to say that you’ve been there. That’s why, as much as people ask me, I still think I should not write posts to talk about how much time you should spent on each attraction…

6. Plan YOUR trip –  Obviously, you will find thousands of suggestions of what to do in New York – both here on the blog as on other blogs, websites, books and magazines. But, remember: it is your trip. Don’t think you have to go to a certain place just because everyone else is going or because someone suggested it. There is no right and wrong. There are opinions, experiences, reports and there are your tastes and your dreams. Not interested in going to the Statue of Liberty? Well, then you don’t have to spend money to go there just because everyone else goes. Don’t you like museums? I don’t like it either. Why are you going to waste your time to do something you do not like or are not in the mood?

7. Remember that how much you spend is also personal – everyone wants to know how much money to bring to New York, but the truth is that it depends on many, many factors. A lot of details influence your budget, and this includes your style as a traveler and your intentions with the trip. As I always say, it takes a lot of research and organization, so you have an early idea of how much you will spend. Attractions have stipulated prices, restaurants have menus, and if you want to go shopping, there are websites you can research. Click here and check out a post to help you.

Extra tip: ok, you feel lost, you are too nervous to decide anything, you don’t have time, you are desperate… Don’t worry! There are some people that can help you, doing a itinerary according to your preferences. I recommend Patricia Toussie, that lives here for over 15 years:

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