Travel Blogs

New York First Timer’s Guide – 2018

IMG_2573.JPGThere was a time in my life when I pretended to be living the great life in New York – chilling in a small cubicle in a Manhattan office and of course, enjoying the city’s stunning skyline from my tiny apartment’s window. 

I watched a lot of movies and shows that were shot in New York – Gossip Girl, Home Alone, Maid In Manhattan, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, The Perfect Man, Sex in the City, Younger and many others. I have always planned to be where they were in my favorite scenes from those movies/shows. So, imagine my excitement when that dream became a reality. 

Since I like to call myself a very organized person, I did my best to make sure that I had it all planned out. But, there were things I wish I knew before I started strolling around the busy streets of NY. It was too late for me to use those tips and tricks but it’s not yet for you!

So, I thought of listing it all out here and I truly hope it helps make your NY trip much easier, efficient and exciting while saving a few bucks. 

I do wanna say that I plan to publish a few other New York blogs so if you have any question that this blog didn’t answer, leave me a comment below so I can answer them below or maybe include it in the next blog.

If you are planning a visit to New York and landed on this page while searching for helpful tips for your NY trips, I am beyond excited for you and I sincerely hope you learn something from this blog. 

PLAN AHEAD. I know flying to NY is super exciting! It’s fun to just go out there and explore but not when it’s worth a lot of money. So you better plan your NY trip before you hop on that plane. 

  • Airfare Tickets – If you are going to NY with an employer paying for the trip, then you are one hella lucky traveler! And I guess you can skip this step. But if you are not that lucky and you are using your hard earned money, then, you need a great deal on these tickets because they cost a fortune! I mean, a loooooot! My ticket cost around $300 but that’s because I am traveling from Dallas, Texas. Quite frankly, that’s not that bad at all but it’s also not the sweetest deal. 
*photo from


Subscribe to airlines’ news letters so you get notified when they have promos. You may find the almost everyday emails annoying but everybody loves a good discount and you wanna be the 1st to know!

Check out online deals from sites like CheapOAir,  Hopper, SkyScanner , etc. Based on personal experiences, SkyScanner always have the cheapest prices. Just saying!

Book your tickets as soon as you see a good deal because they get sold out incredibly fast!

  • Accommodation – NY hotels will make a huge hole in your pockets! I wish I can say, I’m kidding but I can’t! You have to ask yourself what matters more to you, comfort or savings

If you want a comfy bed in a nice room at a great location, prepare to allocate a huge chunk of your budget to your accommodation. I am very fortunate to stay at Sandra’s room for free on our 1st 2 days. She was on a business trip, so of course, her clients took care of the hotel expenses. We stayed at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott along 37th St. and each night cost around $300. Keep in mind that the prices may vary depending on the dates of your stay, the kind of room you want, etc.  But if you can afford that hotel, I’d say go for it! The location is amazing! It’s literally a few minutes away from the Empire State Building. You could actually see the tip of the building from the hotel. When you’re checking in, ask if room #301 is available because that will give you an awesome view of the very famous building. 

If you don’t really mind sacrificing comfort and staying a little farther from the city, download Airbnb right now! There are a lot of Airbnb places that you can book for half to 1/4 of the hotel price. We stayed in a room in an apartment where the owner also stays. If you are picky or have trust issues, then, this isn’t the best scenario for you.

We were given keys to the apartment bldg., his unit and our own room. I am publishing a separate blog for our NY Apartment Experience so once it’s up, I’ll link it here as well. You can also leave me questions about our experience there so I can include it in the next blog.

  • Checklist – So many places to go and food to eat! Trust me! It’s overwhelming. There are so many places to explore in New York but most likely, you wont be able to visit ALL of them on your first visit unless you are staying there for a really long time. Make a list of places that you are interested to see and NY treats that you’ve always wanted to try. Then, categorize them based on how bad you want to see those places – Must Visit , Good To Visit and If We Have Extra Time, Then Visit were my 3 lists. I have to say, my lists were very helpful but that’s just me. 

Personal Tips : 

Include entrance fees, ticket fees, etc. (if applicable) on your list. That will be helpful when you plan your budget which we’ll talk about next. 

Check GROUPON for online deals on tickets to museums, tourist spots, broadway shows, etc. You can save a lot of money if you find some good deals online. 

SAVE UP. How much money do I need for NY? is perhaps one of the most important questions you’d ask yourself before doing this tripLet’s face it! You will need a lot.


*photo from

Based on your research on place tickets, accommodation, and places you wanna visit, :

Create a Travel Money Timeline – This will give you an idea when you can make this dream a reality and looking at this timeline will also motivate you to save a portion of your paycheck for this dream trip. 

Allocate Your Budget – If you already have the money for this trip, YAY for that! Now, allocate it! How much are you spending for plane tickets, accommodation, food, souvenirs, etc. If you are left with a lot of extra, maybe you can take a quick trip to neighboring states like New Jersey or maybe add some more money on your accommodation budget to give you that extra comfort you may need at the end of each day. 

You may also want to put aside a contingency fund (that’s just what I wanna call it) so you have something to grab in case of emergency. 

Personal Tips:

If you are coming from another country, have your money converted to US dollars  before you get here. Why? #1, Some establishments only accepts cards. #2, there may be extra fees when you use foreign cards here in the US. Also, I heard you’ll get lesser value of your money when you have it converted here (that’s what I heard).

If you run out of cash while in NY, I suggest you get your cash from an ATM instead of swiping your card all the time. Personally, I’d rather pay a one-time ATM withdrawal fee than pay a transaction fee every time I use my card. You can always do your research on transaction fees for your specific bank.

If you prefer to go cashless, you may wanna check the daily limit of your bank. Usually, they lock your account if you’ve spent a certain amount for a day and often, you’d have to call them to report it or request to have it unlocked. That’s the last thing you’d want to do while in New York so give your bank a call before riding that plane


WEATHER CHECK.  If you already have the tickets, make sure you look at the weather forecast before you buy and/or pack clothes for your NY OOTDs. Plan and pack outfits accordingly. It was the last week of March when we went there so we expected it to be cold yet sunny because the winter is on its last stretch and spring was just around the corner. Thanks to whoever thought of adding the weather forecast on iPhones because that gave us an idea that it may snow on our last day in NY and it did! Big time! I was able to tick the do-the-snow-angel box in my things to do before I die. LOL

It’s fun to take beautiful selfies and OOTDs in New York, just make sure you are not compromising your health. Pack and wear the right clothes!

YOU DON’T NEED A CAR TO EXPLORE NY! We all love the convenience of sitting in your own car but let me tell you why you shouldn’t get a car while exploring NY. 

  • Car rentals are ridiculously pricey. The cheapest deal I saw online was 60 bucks a day for a compact car. Other fees may also apply. There’s a reason why a lot of people get scared of the words OTHER FEES!
  • Parking fees worth a fortune. It can be as low as $15 to $70. Prices can be hourly and vary depending on the location. If you are staying in a hotel, make sure to ask about the parking fees before you decide to rent a car because it can cost your meals for the entire day. 
  • Lastly, parking is crazy! It’s difficult to park your car because there are tourists literally EVERYWHERE! Looking for a good spot to park your car will definitely eat up some time in your day. Not to mention, most of us get grumpy when we can’t find a good parking spot. 😉

Get the unlimited MTA Card. While we are at it, let me share with you the best decision we have ever made in terms of transportation. 

  • Each ride cost around $3 (2018 price) regardless of your stop. Based on the length of your stay and your list of places to visit, calculate how much you’ll spend for train tickets. If your answer is more than $33, then get the unlimited MTA card – that’s good for unlimited rides for 7 days. You pay $32 + a dollar fee for a new MTA card. You can hop on and off the buses and MTA trains as many times as you want without paying extra.

Personal Tips :

I didn’t know this before so I’m sharing this here so YOU know. The MTA unlimited card works for buses and subways but doesn’t work for PATH. If you need to use PATH to go to places you wanna visit, then, you can pay it per ride which again cost around $3 each. If you will be using PATH for a week or so, check your other options online. I read that a SMARTLINK card may be a good option but I haven’t personally experience that so I’m not talking more about that in this blog. 

VERY URGENT TIP FOR NY BEGINNERS TAKING THE TRAIN – Check your train letter or number before riding it. You’d also want to double check if it is a local train or an express train. WHY? The express train skips a lot of stops which may include yours. Trust me! It can be very confusing! 


If you plan to stay there for a month or so, a prepaid phone will come in handy. AT&T has a 35-dollar prepaid plan that will give you a good amount of data. If you’re only staying for a week, then that won’t be a practical move.

If you plan to survive NY through the city and establishments’ wifi networks, I suggest you scratch that plan off right now. A lot of establishments don’t have wifis; some have but are only available to their customers (boo!). If you wanna stay on track with your itinerary, have a copy of your maps/routes that you can access without the need for internet connection – print them out, put it in your phone’s notes or go old school, write them all down. That would also be helpful when you’re on the train and you are not sure about your stop. New York is a busy city and you can easily get lost. I got lost a lot! 

I hope you enjoyed my 1st blog entry from my NY adventures. I will be sharing my detailed itinerary in another blog so stay tuned for that. 🙂

Thank you for dropping by my blog today and I will chat with you again soon. 

Enjoy the rest of your day!

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