This was a trip eight months in the making (along with many years of dreaming). There was so much planning and research, I feel like I should break it all down for you. I looked on so many blogs and bugged so many friends that I feel it's my duty to pay it forward for anyone else planning to visit. First of all, this was my first trip to NYC so there is a definite focus on tourist spots. Second, this is NYC on a budget so sadly I was not staying at the Plaza and dropping thousands at Chanel. That doesn't mean that we didn't have just as much fun.
We decided to go in February because prices spike drastically in March. However, we didn't account for the weather until after booking our flights. Upon researching, we found out that February is considered the coldest month of the year for NYC. Oops. Thankfully the weather was not that cold and it only snowed/rained one and a half days.
That's another thing, we only went for four days. We flew out of Houston on Wednesday night and flew back Sunday afternoon. We chose these days because we were trying to miss the least amount of work while still trying to capitalize on the fact that weekday vacations are cheaper. We bought our tickets on a Wednesday night about 8-9 weeks before we left. For a full breakdown on when to buy tickets, click here.
We stayed slightly south of Times Square at the Hilton Double Tree. Our reasoning in choosing T.S. was simply that we wanted to be centrally located. Our hotel was everything I could have asked for. Um, hello - chocolate chip cookies at check in. SOLD. It was also clean and the staff was amazing. But really, the best cookies of your life when you check in and out.
The only rough spot in our planning was booking Super Shuttle as our transportation from and to the airport. They were a complete nightmare. Everything from waiting at the airport for over an hour and a half to rude staff. I do not recommend. It's cheaper than a taxi, but I can't recommend it based on my horrible experience. Just take a taxi. Or be like Jay Z and hire a driver in a tinted window black Escalade. But don't take a towncar. They are evil black cars driving around essentially exactly like cabs and charging triple the price. If I want to throw my money away, I'll do it at Bloomingdales.
As for planning, we started making a list of all the things we wanted to do/see/eat and added to it over a few months. The week before (as dorky and type A as this sounds) I printed out a map of Manhattan and literally pin pointed every single thing we wanted to do. From there, we just chose to venture to one area a day. We were able to accomplish everything we wanted to do without hopping all over. I bought this handy dandy map on Amazon which EVERYONE made fun of me for but it was a total godsend. This bad boy has the streets, but most importantly the subway routes and stops which was beyond helpful. AND it's laminated/water proof and not obnoxiously large which allows you to pull it out, take a quick look, and put it away without seeming like a total tourist gaping at the subway map underground. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
As for packing - this is going to change depending on the time of year you go. Because we went in February, layers (scarves, sweaters, undershirts, hats, etc.), rain boots, and touch tec gloves (i.e. gloves that you can still text and instagram in) were essential. I obsessed over not having a thick enough coat, but the layers made all my obsessing useless. As for a purse, a crossbody or zippered carryall is your best bet. I took my Longchamp because it was comfortable, zippered (subway safety), and if it started to rain I wasn't going to have a heart attack. Don't worry about an umbrella - once it starts raining you can buy one on any block for five dollars.
Lastly, carry cash. I can't remember the last time I used cash in Texas. My debit card is practically worn to death from all the swiping. But NYC caters to cash. From your cab to street vendors to grabbing coffee at a small cafe to tipping the super talented musician on the subway, you need cash. Angry daggerish glares will ensue if you hold up a line of New Yorkers with your slow debit card.
That's it for the boring logistics, tomorrow it's all about where we went and what we saw.