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The most important to-do items to prepare for your trip to New York
What do I need to do and think about before I head to the airport? We have the answers to all your questions here.
These items should be taken care of prior to your trip to the United States – don’t let a technicality ruin your holiday.
Get travel authorization through ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Be sure to register online prior to your trip to avoid any problems at immigration. Once you have completed your registration, the travel authorization is valid for two years. You should bring a print-out of your registration confirmation with you, or have it downloaded as PDF on your phone.
- Check to make sure your passport, driver’s license, or other personal identification has not expired. If necessary, apply for a new one.
- Check your credit card or EC card limit for international travel – to protect against misuse, many credit institutions impose restrictions on card use abroad. If you know how much money you are allowed to withdraw daily or weekly, then you won’t have any nasty surprises at the ATM. It is also important to contact the bank that issued your card and let them know you are traveling abroad! This allows you to increase your card limit as well as avoid your card being blocked due to what may be suspected to be fraudulent behavior.
- Save money by planning your sightseeing adventures: prior planning will save you money when traveling to New York to see many of its famous sights and attractions. Many tickets to attractions are cheaper online and with a New York discount pass you can save even more. With our savings calculator and pass adviser you can figure out which pass to buy in order to save up to 56% compared to regular admissions.
Documentation: What papers do I need to bring?
I realize the following points may sound obvious, but checking them off as you go can help you avoid stress. We also use this as our checklist before taking off.
- A valid biometric passport – please check to see for how long your passport is valid. Applying for a new one may take up to 6 weeks! You can request a passport at your local municipal registration office. When applying for a new passport, you will also need new biometric passport photos – but you can generally get those taken there. Don’t panic if your departure date is coming up soon: you can request an expedited processing in many countries (for extra money). With expedited processing, you generally receive your new passport after 5 working days.
- A valid personal ID – we recommend having one, so you don’t have to take your passport with you everywhere you go. Your personal ID will be much more practical – you may also need it to show you are of drinking age at a restaurant or a bar.
- All necessary documentation for your health insurance abroad – it pays off to be prepared!
- Your travel documentation such as hotel reservations, flight confirmations, car reservations etc. What we generally do is send those to our e-mail address as a PDF. That way, we always have a back-up in the event of the original being lost. Tip: if you have a smartphone or are taking your notebook, I recommend saving these documents in an app or directly onto your laptop. You will then avoid needing an Internet connection or paying extra fees when accessing your files.
- A valid international driver’s license: you will need one if you are renting a car.
Equipment: What should I bring and what else do I need to consider?
Here are all the items you should take on holiday. If you forgot something, you can always get it once you get there (Apart from your credit card). Going through this list before you take off may save you stress and time-consuming searches once in New York:
- A credit card – this is our preferred method of payment in New York. It is accepted virtually anywhere: from taxis to ticket counters to every bar and restaurant. Perfect! You can also get a travel money card from your nearest Post Office which functions like a debit card without the costs abroad.
- A travel adapter for the USA – this is a must-have because power in the US runs at only 110 V and power outlets have a different shape than what you might be used to from Europe or Asia. You can buy an adapter at the reception desk of many hotels or at the airport should you not already have one.
- Dollars in cash – this allows you to save at least once on foreign exchange fees, and you can buy a snack at the airport without a problem. How much cash should you take to New York? With 150 dollars you should be covered. Remember you can use your credit card to pay for the rest. Be sure to get some small bills, including 1-dollar bills, when you exchange money at your bank. You will need small bills to pay for tips in hotels for example.
- A cell phone service plan with international options – many providers offer packages so that once you are in New York you can still use your smartphone or tablet. Being able to download the odd map or make a last minute hotel reservations makes traveling easier! Being able to google things on short notice can also prove very useful!
- Medications – make sure you are taking all your prescription medications along with you. Also put together a little medical kit that includes painkillers, nausea pills, throat lozenges, cold medicine, etc. Band aids, tissues, and hand sanitizer are also a good idea to have with you. So you don’t have to run out and buy them when you get there.
- Trainers – don’t worry about your looks, comfort is key. Nothing is more tiring than walking around on sore feet. You can put on your heels in the evenings or bring your flip-flops along in your backpack to change into later.
- A fully-charged camera – nothing is more frustrating than a flashing red light when you are trying to take the ultimate picture. Charging your camera before you leave will get you off to a great start. But don’t forget your charger/cable, memory card (maybe a spare as well) and an extra battery!
Travel Preparation for New York
Another step that will spare you some stress is a relatively detailed vacation plan. It starts with making a list of what sights and attractions you would like to see when you are in the city. New York has a lot to offer, and with a little preparation, you can start your vacation completely relaxed.
We have tried a variety of things that you can look at here:
Transfer from the airport to New York
What do I want to visit?
Get inspired by our top 10 attractions in New York – including insider tips.
Which sightseeing pass gets me up to 56% savings compared to buying the tickets separately?
All of this information will help you to start your holiday smoothly. Have fun!
I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!