There is nothing quite like the feeling of stepping into the city for the first time! It's simultaneously exhilarating and overwhelming. There is so much to see, to do and to experience while in New York City, that I've created a list of helpful things you can do before you leave home that will set you up to have a successful trip.

1. Install Important Travel Apps

You will use your phone A LOT in New York City. If you’ve purchased airline, train, theater, or admission tickets they will likely be sent to you digitally. Restaurant reservations made through Resy, Open Table or Yelp will be digitally accounted for as well. Nearly every vendor has an app, where your account will hold the details of your purchase and serve as your ticket. I recommend downloading each app while you’re still at home, have good internet service and aren’t in a rush. Trying to install and set these up while in the city adds to your stress and can cause frustrating delays. In addition to installing the apps prior to your trip, create a “travel” folder where you can keep them all organized together in the same place.

2. Familiarize Yourself With The City

It is incredibly helpful to study a map of Manhattan before your trip to familiarize yourself with the layout of city. Start to understand and get an idea of where the neighborhoods are in relation to each other, especially the ones where you will be staying and spending most of your time. Get acquainted with Lower Manhattan, Midtown and Upper Manhattan. Notice how the avenues run east to west and the numbered streets run north to south. Take note of how Broadway intersects the city. These will be helpful reference points for you throughout your stay.

3. Get Acquainted With The Subway

If you plan to take the subway, start familiarizing yourself with the subway map prior to your trip. Locate your hotel and the closest subway stations to it. Find any destination venues and their closest corresponding train stations. Remember that trains heading north of where you are are “uptown” trains. If your destination is south of where you are, take a “downtown” train. I’ve found that the Google Maps app and the City Mapper app are the best for helping navigate the subway. Both apps will identify your current location and help you find the closest subway and route to get to your desired destination.  

4. Create A Map Of Your Destinations

This is the number one tip I give to my friends who are traveling to NYC as well as to my consultation clients (who are planning their own trip). Take all of your desired destinations, whether they be a bakery or a museum, an observation deck or a park, and pin them all on a map. I like to use My Maps on Google. This gives you a visual perspective of where everything is and will help you to plan your days in such a way that maximizes your time and enables you to see and do as much as possible.

5. Make Reservations/Purchase Tickets in Advance

In a city as large as New York you can "play things by ear" and have a great time even if your first or second choice of activity or restaurant isn’t available. This will require you to be flexible and spend time planning things on the go, which takes quite a bit of extra energy. That said, if there are restaurants, attractions or shows that are important to you,  I recommend making reservations and purchasing tickets well in advance and then organizing your days around those set points. This not only guarantees your admission or dining experience, but it also helps to bring some structure and organization to your days which will ultimately help you to make the most of your time in the city.

I hope you found these tips helpful and as always, reach out to me anytime on social media, email or the contact form here on the website if you'd like me to help you plan your trip!


Hire a NYC travel expert to help you plan!

If you're going to New York City for the first time, or for the first time in a long time, it is helpful to work with an NYC travel expert. I will help you navigate the logistics of timing, budget, and travel party dynamics while incorporating your unique needs and interests. Reach out! Let's plan your trip together.