At the beginning of October, I went to New York for a week as a graduation present to myself. It’s hands down the best trip I’ve ever been on and I would go back in a heartbeat! I thought I would do a series of posts about my trip as there is so much to talk about!!
I thought I would start off by sharing what I did to prepare for my trip.
I spent at least 2 months planning and booking to make sure everything ran smoothly and fit in to the short time I had! I booked my hotel and flights about 5 months in advance to get great deals. I ended up staying in a great 4 star hotel less than 5 minutes walk from Times Square for under $300 a night, one of the best prices I could find for that time of year. Booking well in advance also allowed me to save up for the trip for longer so I had more money to spend out there!
Some things that I found the most useful:
This card allows you to connect your bank card to an app or their website on your phone where you can switch UK Sterling to a range of worldwide currencies including US Dollars and Euros. They send you a bank card to use outside of the UK and most importantly, they don’t charge you for using the card outside of the UK which can add up if you are making expensive purchases. Depending on the urgency of your need for money, you can choose to swap money over from Sterling to your chosen currency immediately, over 3 days, or over 7 days. The longer you wait, the better the exchange rate. The only issue with the longer periods is that you may get a different amount in the end due to fluctuating rates. You can also use this card in the UK, simply switch your chosen currency back to Stirling once you return!
I used this card so I didn’t have to carry around a silly amount of money, and it allowed me to pay for my hotel easily without any issues.
I wanted to book my attractions in advance so again, I didn’t have to carry around as much money when I was actually there. The GoCity card is another app which allows you to choose the attractions you want to visit. They provide you with a QR code that people scan upon entry, and the app contains mini guidebooks for the attractions available with the pass. You can choose from cities all across the USA and hundreds of attractions within them. There are options to choose an open pass with 3, 4, 5, 7, or 10 attractions for a single price (and to save the most amount of money), or completely build your own pass if you know which attractions you want to visit before you go. I chose my attractions before I went as I knew where I wanted to visit, and I ended up saving the equivalent of the admission to one and a half attractions. Once I started running low on money, I found that buying attraction passes in advance meant that I was still able to keep busy for very little money.
One thing I have to say about this is that you don’t get to skip the queue at the majority of attractions which makes it seem a little pointless, but I got to skip the line at the Empire State Building which was amazing considering the giant queue that was there! It’s definitely worth it for a lot of them and being able to just exchange a scan of the app for a ticket is quick and still worth it for me!
If you are on a budget, a lot of the museums are suggested donations for their entry, so do some research and don’t add on those attractions to your pass as they are usually relatively expensive at full price.
Tips and Taxes
When I was saving for my trip, I forgot that taxes were added on to products at the till, so things were more expensive than they appeared. I also underestimated how much I would need for tip. I would suggest putting aside $200+ to make sure you are covered, depending on how long you are there and how expensive you want to go with food etc.
It’s only a short list, but these are probably the most helpful things I can come up with at the moment!