How To Plan Your New York Trip

Date Posted: 28/02/2020

A lot goes into planning a holiday… everything from flights, tickets, and transfers to restaurant reservations, itineraries, and time-keeping. Jennifer Waddell, copywriter here at Hays Travel, is visiting New York in April and has planned her experience from start to finish ready for her adventure. Enjoy her pre-trip planning suggestions and organisation methods to help you plan your visit to New York. But even if you’re not visiting the Big Apple, hopefully you can take something away that will help you plan any kind of holiday. 

Book your flights early

“This is probably my top tip, although not necessarily something I managed to do so well myself! If you’re planning to visit New York you should ideally be looking at flights several months in advance to ensure you can get the best price. I only booked four months in advance but, despite this, actually still got a pretty good deal. 

“To find the best price I took extra care and time to search my dates and a few different airports I could fly from, so that this would broaden my options.”

Apply for an ESTA

“To travel from the UK to the USA you need an ESTA. An ESTA allows you to travel for a period of 90 days or less for tourism or business purposes and will cost you $14. You’ll need to fill in an ESTA application online where you’ll provide personal details and information on your background to see if you are eligible for entry. I’d suggest doing this as early as possible because it can sometimes take a while for approval!”

Purchase good travel insurance

“It goes without saying that you need travel insurance wherever you wish to go in the world. However, New York is a costly destination to travel to so it’s wise to make sure you have insurance in place from the moment of booking. Use price comparison websites to find the best deals on this.”

Book a hotel in a prime location

“New York is massive. I knew it was… but after a lot of research and time spent on Google Maps I realised this even more! I wanted to be as close to most of the main attractions as possible so I spent days (maybe even weeks) looking for the perfect hotel. 

“For my three nights there I’ve booked to stay at Pod Times Square Hotel which is centred (as you might guess) right in the middle of bustling Times Square. I can see clearly that the hotel is basic and the rooms are small but it’s sufficient for a good night’s sleep after a long day – which is fine given we’ll hardly even be in it! I paid just over £520 for the room, which I think considering its location, is a bargain for a New York stay.”

Pre-book attraction tickets

“This in absolute must. New York is not somewhere like Prague where you can turn up for three days and think ‘Hmm, what shall I do today?’ It’s obviously an incredibly busy city with tourists, just like yourself, wanting to visit the world-famous buildings and attractions. Therefore, you’ll need to pre-book quite a lot of what you want to do. 

“I’d recommend you look into booking a sightseeing pass; where you can choose simply one visit or a range of visits to New York's best attractions. The pass will give you access to a long list of things to see and do and you don’t need to decide when purchasing what you want to see – just choose when you get there.

“If you’d like to attend a New York Knicks basketball game you’ll need to buy your tickets online before you go. After reading many forums I realised I wouldn’t be able to buy them from the shop like I had thought initially. Don’t miss out on this experience thinking you’ll be able to do so!

“If you’re planning to join a New York sightseeing cruise like I am you should be aware that you aren’t actually able to book your place in advance and will need to turn up to the port 24 hours before you wish to join the cruise.”

Research the restaurants and shops you want to go to 

“The city is filled with an endless choice of restaurants and shops to keep you fed and amused for weeks – if not months! But if you only have a few days like me then you’ll want to look at places in advance. If you’re really keen to experience the American lifestyle then I’d recommend looking into popular chain restaurants and shops; even just great places everyone is talking about or rating highly. I used TripAdvisor for this. I brought up trusty Google Maps and researched the best nearby places for American pancakes for breakfast, burgers, tacos, milkshakes, chicken and waffles, and so much more. 

“As far as shopping goes there’s obviously the well-known Bloomingdales, Macy’s, American Apparel, M&M World, Target, and more. It’s really just about deciding what’s high on your must-see list!”

Design an itinerary

“An itinerary is something you’ll thank yourself for once you get to NYC. If you’ve never been before like me then you might find it difficult estimating your time frame for how long it’ll take to get where you want to be, how long queues will be, and how much time you’ll spend at each attraction. However, I still managed to do a rough plan. This is part of my itinerary..."

"I designed my plan using a free template on Google Sheets and did my best to factor in where I’d like to eat, journey times, visit times, etc. It’s all a bit of a guessing game when you’ve never been to New York before but I’m hopeful I’ll get to see everything I’ve planned!”


What do you think of New York? Will you be travelling there soon?