10 Tips for Going to New York For Your First Time

Are you going to New York for your first time? Here are few tips for traveling to New York.

Brooklyn Bridge - New York City

I recently attended New York Fashion Week for the 4th time. Personally, I feel like navigating New York gets easier and easier with each visit. I’ve learned how to use Google Maps to figure out which direction to walk and the general layout of the neighborhoods of Manhattan.

This trip to New York, I was joined by my friend Maddy. It was her first time ever visiting the big apple. Taking her around the city reminded me of my first trip to New York as an adult (I had visited as a kid).

I decided to visit three of my girlfriends from college a few years back and was so excited to see the big city. I learned a few tips and tricks for them – like navigating the subways and wearing comfortable boots. So today I wanted to share a few tips for gong to New York your first time.

If you’re heading to New York City soon, this blog post is if for you! Here are:

10 Tips for Going to New York for Your First Time

Brooklyn Bridge

1. Take the first flight in or the last flight into New York

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If you’re coming from the West Coast like me, I highly recommend taking the first flight in or the last flight in. I usually take the red eye from Seattle to New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport. The flight leaves around 10pm and I usually land in New York City around 6:30-7am.

I’ve also flown into New York from LA and left the West Coast around 3pm. When you take an afternoon flight from the West Coast, you usually land in NYC around 11pm or midnight.

Why fly in early or late into NYC?

Even though it can be brutal to take a red eye to the East Coast, flying in first thing in the morning does have its advantages. If you’re looking to call a Lyft or Uber into the city, chances are the rates aren’t too bad yet. The rate difference between a shared Uber (Uberpool) or Lyft (Lyftline) at this time isn’t bad.

Another advantage of taking the first flight in or the last flight in is also the traffic. You usually end up beating rush hour and it should only take you 30-40 min to get into the city. I usually never have a problem with traffic coming into city before 7:30am.

2. Take the first flight out of New York

Even though it can be a struggle to take a 9am (or earlier) flight out of JFK airport, it can be worth it if you want to save on the Lyft/Uber ride. At peak times, a Lyft/Uber ride from Manhattan to JFK can soar up to over $200 a ride. However if you call a Lyft/Uber around 6:30-7:30am, you only end up paying around $50 (give or take) for a ride to the airport.

Like flying into New York City first thing in the morning, flying out of the city first thing in the morning also positions you to miss all the traffic. We ended up leaving SOHO around 6:45 am and we got to the airport by 7:30am (2 hours before our 9:30am flight).

I’ve taken an afternoon or early evening flight out of New York City and it has taken me up to an hour and half to get to the airport. I was so stressed that I would miss my flight because I had thought that leaving 2 hours before my flight would be enough.

But what if you can’t take the first flight/last flight out of the city?

If you can’t take the first flight out or the last flight out of New York City and you have to take a mid afternoon or evening flight, I recommend planning to arrive at the airport 2 hours ahead of your flight. So if you’re staying in Chelsea or Midtown, I would give yourself 3 hours before your flight leaves (one hour to get to the airport and two hours to get through security and your gate).

3. Download Google Maps if you plan on using the subway station

Subway station in New York City - 49 Street Station

The subway system in New York can be very intimating. There’s trains with all the letters in the alphabet and numbers. There are trains going Uptown, Downtown, towards Brooklyn, and towards Queens. I highly recommend downloading Google Maps on your phone for your first time in New York City.

You can plug in your current location and the location you want to go to. Google Maps shows you all the different trains and stations you can use to get to that location.

4. Buy a 7 day Metro Card at the subway station

If you plan on using the New York Subway stations for your first trip, I recommend buying a 7 day metro card – especially if you’ll be in the city more 3 days. It’s $33 to buy a 7 day pass and totally worth it. Traveling by subway is the most cost effective way to see New York.

You won’t have to worry about refilling your card throughout the trip. It’s also helpful to have a metro card if you plan on traveling up and down Manhattan to go sightseeing. While you can walk from Time Square to the Rockefeller Center Top of the Rock, you’ll want to take the train to other places like the Oculus or even Central Park.

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5. FYI – If you’re traveling in the summer or early fall, the subway stations can get very hot.

All the subway trains are air conditioned but the underground stations are NOT air conditioned. It can get very warm in the underground subway stations so just giving you a heads up so you aren’t taken by surprise.

6. There are multiple train station location cities throughout the cities – so don’t stress if a subway station/uptown or downtown line is temporarily closed.

On weekends, subway lines are sometimes temporarily closed. This actually happened to us this past weekend in SOHO. I learned though that subway stations are all over the city. We realized that there were at least 4 subway stations within .5 mile of us.

If you end up running into a subway line or station that’s temporarily closed, check out Google Maps. The app will show you the different trains and stations you can walk to and take.  I would recommend heading up to the street level and picking a different station to take.

For example, If you’re in Koreatown or near Time Square. You can take Penn Station or Time Square Station to get back down to SOHO or West Village. Both stations are only. A few blocks from each other.

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7. If you choose to take a Lyft or Uber, I recommend using a shared car to save some money

New York City has probably the most expensive Uber and Lyft rates I’ve ever seen (at least compared to Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco). I’ve taken an Uber from the Upper West Side to SOHO and a shared ride was $50. I had all my luggage with me so I was afraid to carry my large checked bag down the flights of stairs to the subway station.

If you need to take an Uber or Lyft but want to save some money, I would recommend to choose a shared ride. I also recommend to give yourself extra time to get from point A to point B if you’re taking a shared ride. It’s great to save a few dollars on a shared ride but it might also double your travel time – so just plan ahead.

8. Wear comfortable sneakers and boots

If you’re going to New York for your first time, you must pack and wear comfortable sneakers and boots. I would avoid high heels or even block heel boots – especially if you plan to do a ton of sightseeing. I usually bring a pair of running shoes to all my trips and a pair of more stylish but practical sneakers.

Brooklyn Bridge -- Emmas Edition

9. Carry a tote bag

I learned my first trip back to New York as an adult that tote bags are a way of life in the city. You end up packing essentials like a water bottle, a cardigan, maybe a snack or camera if you’re sightseeing. I highly recommend carrying a tote bag or a canvas bag as you explore the city.

If you’re a blogger like me, I recommend being a larger bag you can zip up to roll up and pack a few outfits in! That’s what I usually do when I go to New York,

10. Pick 2-3 things to see in a day

There’s so much to see in New York. I recommend seeing a few big things each day. If you’re checking out the big attractions, try to see them by each neighborhood. For instance, it’s totally doable to see the Top of the Rock, walk to Time Square, and also head to the Flat Iron building.

If you plan on heading to the West Village area, you can also see Washington Square park nearby or even stroll over to SOHO.

Oculus World Trade Center

What are your tips for going to New York for your first time?

For more New York related posts, you can check out:

10 Most Instagrammable Places in NYC to See

Behind the Scenes of NYFW – What you don’t see on instagram

Thank you for reading!

Love,

Emma

Photos: @Madcrayy

3 Comments

  1. September 18, 2019 / 9:32 am

    Girl, I wished I knew these when I went to NYFW 2 years ago. Thanks for sharing.

  2. September 18, 2019 / 2:22 pm

    As a former New Yorker with family still there, I highly agree with your comment about flight times! I always want to be on the first in just because as the day goes on you are at a higher risk of being rescheduled or cancelled, especially when weather gets bad. Crazy high volume of flights going into airports there! And YES on the metro card as well – Seattlites aren’t used to that one!

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