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Step-by-Step Guide: how to plan your trip to New York City

If you have been following me for a while, you know that I always mention how travel planning is important. There are different trips, millions of destinations, and a lot of travel personalities,  and maybe you are that kind of cool person, who likes to decide what to do on the day, without thinking a lot. Although I am like that sometimes, I already say that when it comes to New York, minimal planning is essential. This is because the city is not only large but also offers a lot of things to do. In addition, in general, it is an expensive city, so one more reason to join the planning team. I know that because of this, many people feel overwhelmed and do not even know how to plan a trip like this – so, today I bring a  step-by-step guide! This post is a mini-guide and I include several useful links with information that will complement all the topics.

1. Documents – first things first! If you are not a US Citizen, you will need a passport to travel to New York City. So, if you don’t have one, check it out how to get a passport in your country. Also, you definitely have to check if you need a visa. The United States requires a visa from some countries. There are some countries where you will not need a visa – but you have to get an ESTA – Electronic System for Travel Authorization. Check it out if you are a citizen or eligible national of a Visa Waiver Program country.

2. Deciding the trip’s period – there are those who have vacation flexibility and, of course, more options to choose the period of the trip. But there are also those who have a limited period of vacation, with a limited travel window. Regardless, it is essential to keep in mind that New York is a city with well-defined seasons and the city always changes during these seasons. It is good to have as little information as possible about the desired period of travel – the winter, for example, is very hard and will require more detailed planning and even more investment, since you need appropriate clothes and shoes to be able to explore with minimal comfort.

3. Flight tickets – ok, you got the documents and you know when you want to visit the city. Now, it is time to buy the flight tickets. It is worth remembering that periods like July (summer vacation), September (US Open, Fashion Week and United Nations Conference) and December (holidays) tend to be more expensive. But, when it comes to airline tickets, the secret is to research a lot. I recommend Google Flights to search for tickets in general – you can even alerts. Try to buy your ticket at least three months in advance.

4. Accommodations – finding a place to stay in New York City is probably one of the items that will cause a headache. That’s because, truth be told, New York is a very expensive city in that regard. It is possible that the accommodation will get a large amount of your budget. My general recommendation is to look for hotels in Manhattan – not only in Midtown – or even in neighborhoods close to the island, like Astoria and Long Island City, in Queens, and Downton Brooklyn and Williamsburg, in Brooklyn.

5. Travel insurance– same way we carefully choose our destination, hotels, itinerary, we also need to be aware of the unforeseen events that may happen. Hence the importance of travel insurance. This is because, being in another city or another country, a simple toothache or a simple fall, can become major problems – mainly due to the high cost of private medical assistance in the United States. Nobody wants to have to deal with health issues while traveling, but the truth is that there is no way to predict this type of event.

6. Show me the money – how are you planning to spend your money in New York City? Are you bringing cash or a credit card? Don’t forget to check the exchange rates and also calling your credit card company to make sure you understand your card’s international fees and restrictions. Even if you are planning to carry cash, it is important to have one credit card at least – some places in NYC are cashless.

7. Organizing the itinerary – I suggest some steps in order to organize things to do during your stay! I suggest some steps. 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 and also search for videos and other websites. But, remember: plan YOUR trip. Don’t think you have to go to that 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. Add everything you want on your list and then it’s time to open My Maps, from Google, and pin all the places. Remember that you will need to use the subway. And so it becomes easy to choose what to do each day. It is easier when you choose an area per day. Also, take this opportunity to pin some restaurants on your ma

8. Purchasing tickets, booking services, and other products – you will need to purchase tickets for some of the city’s classic attractions – and you can do it online in advance. You can also buy tickets for Broadway musicals and plays and getting a good price. In addition, this is the time to also think about the way you will leave the airport and, if you wish, hire a transfer service.

9. Travel expenses overview – at this time, it will be easier to have an overview of the travel expenses so far. Make a spreadsheet or even a list, what matters is to put everything on paper. List all the attractions and paid experiences, check the price of each one. Do not forget to include the price of the transfer, as well as the Metrocard. Check the restaurants you have included in your itinerary, see the average price of each one. This step will give you a good idea of the costs of your trip. If you intend to shop, it is worth making a list of items and stores – and it is worth remembering that when it comes to large chains, you can check the price of these items on the websites.

10 . Packing – packing smart saves you from carrying weight for nothing! Planning what to bring is essential – that’s why the tip I gave at the beginning is so important: researching the weather and knowing exactly what you are going to face. Also, remember to check if your ticket includes checked bags or only carry-on. Make a list of what you need to take, so you don’t forget anything.

A GIFT FOR YOU! Download my free 24-pages Travel Planner to help organize and plan your trip. Features trip overview, expenses, places to go, reminders … it’s super complete! Both Travel Planner and other amazing materials to help with travel planning are available in my Bublup folder. Bublup is a wonderful platform to organize your trip – think of it as a mix of Pinterest + Google Drive! I suggest that you use the platform to organize your trip: save photos, links, videos, everything related to the trip!


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