Discover New York | Before leaving
Time of the year & itinerary| Accomodation | US immigration

From the creation of this baby-blog, less than a year ago, a lot of you guys contacted me to get info about your upcoming trip in New York, and I loved helping you planning the perfect stay! I also noticed that a lot of questions / worries were shared by almost all of you! 

After a few months of intense research and long hours to write it, I am so thrilled to reveal you the new category on the “Travel” section on the blog : “New York”. I planned it in several parts and I really hope it will help you while planning you next visit. Of course, you still can contact me whenever you need! A new chapter will be released on Saturdays, and I am also working on a few surprises! Ready? Follow me, c’est par ici:


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Choosing the time of the year

Winter is terribly cold and the icy wind is sometime barely bearable. However, Christmas time is gorgeous, New York under the snow is a must see, the streets are beautifully decorated and the New Year’s ambiance is great!

Spring is quite brief, but it’s a wonderful time, with all the trees blooming. New Yorkers are especially in good mood during spring, probably grateful for surviving the terrible winter that just passed on them!

Summer is rich in thrilling activities. However, it’s often crazily humid and almost unbreathable! (And insanely cold in the stores and the subway!)

Fall, like spring, shows beautiful colors and a lot of great celebrations, such as Thanksgiving and Halloween. But it’s also a propitious season for rain and hurricanes.

I would advise you to visit New York during May – June and September- Mid-November.


Choosing your arrival airport

I will put aside the basics (don’t book 5 days before your trip or you’ll need to sell a kidney, avoid weird airlines like Nouillorc airwouaise, …) but I want you to know about the 3 airports around New York City.

First of all, and except if you can save 40% of your travel budget, for God sake, don’t choose Newark! As I already told you here, going there from The City in one piece (and with all your nerves) is almost a miracle. Either it’s terribly long, or expensive, but in both case it will be boring as hell!

Laguardia, Queens is located one hour away from Manhattan, using subway + but. It’s a good alternative but the airport is quite old and it seems to be always crowded!

Or, you can do as everyone else and choose JFK. Of course, you’ll face a queue at immigration (but not that long, if you are lucky!) but at least a lot of planes are landing at JFK and it’s easy to get there. (Just try not to go out the subway too soon, the neighborhood is not that welcoming around here!)


Getting an ESTA

If you are not American, nor you have a Greencard/Visa, you’ll need to get an ESTA, to be authorized to enter the US territory. The simple form has to be filled at least 72 hours before taking off, and it costs $14 per guest on the Government website here. (Or $70 if you decide to be adventurous and to get it on a website that ends with .ru! Don’t be fooled!)

More importantly, be careful that all your names on your passport match all your names on your ESTA. Second, third and middle name included! (And one day, maybe, I will tell you how Switzerland provide me an inexact passport, which rebaptized me when I moved here!)


Accommodation

Before choosing a place, I would advise you to make a list of what you want to do / see during your stay, and to match it with your budget (both hotels and rents are terribly expensive and the size of the hotel rooms are inversely proportional to the price you’ll pay!)

Staying in Manhattan will be expensive, but it’s central, which can be a huge asset, especially for a first visit. If you want to spend less, you can try Long Island City, Brooklyn or even New Jersey, which are really well-connected. Don’t forget to add the price of the subway / PATH, when calculating your final expenses, since it’s going to be the only way to reach those boroughs!

If you decide to sleep in Manhattan, I would avoid a few neighborhoods, such as Times Square, China Town, Port Authority or West Harlem. Of course, it’s completely subjective, but try to gather info – price and safety – before booking!)

Unfortunately, I can’t give you any hotel name, since I did not had the chance to get free nights testing I have been living in apartments since day 1.

So, if you have a good – or a bad – address to share with us, write a comment!


Packing

Most importantly, travel light: you’ll need a lot of space to bring things back!

If you are visiting during spring, summer or fall, take both summer clothes and a few winter pieces (the temperatures can change drastically and the public places are using A/C like crazy!), a good pair of shoes (sneakers would be perfect, no need for hike shoes) and a pair of “classy shoes” to enter fancy restaurants and rooftops.

During summer, a good sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat, to prevent sunstroke.

During fall, an umbrella or a hooded plastic cape would be a good idea.

During winter (December to February), get the thermic underwear, lined (and waterproof) shoes, big coats and all the winter accessories you can think of (gloves, scarves, fingerless gloves (to put over the gloves! Seriously.), earmuffs, hands-heater, portative fireplace, nothing will be too much, believe me!)

Don’t forget your camera, blister Band-Aid, a safe bag to avoid being stolen from, your ESTA and… the Foodetcaetera food and tricks and tips 😉


Going through immigration

Sit down and take a deep breath, I am about to tell you the exact opposite of what you usually hear about US immigration. I entered the country 6 times, 3 times with ESTA, 3 times with Visa and I’ve never had any problem. Worst case scenario, the guy was just polite, but usually, they are really nice!

Here’s how it will go: you’ll be queuing – 1 to 6 hours (worst case scenario but it can happen) and then showing your passport and your ESTA to the guy (by the way, if you already entered the country with the same ESTA, you will have a “private” line, and usually, it’s an empty one!) Keep your ticket back home to hand, and prepare yourself to answer a few questions (usually is whether or not you’ve ever been in the country before, what you do for a living or where you plan to stay.* He will then take a picture of you as well as your fingerprints and that will be it!

If things go “wrong”, though, stay calm, don’t raise your voice and don’t ask questions (you don’t wanna mess with US government agents). Perhaps you’ll be brought in a separate room to give them time to check a few things (I don’t precisely know what). No one will explain you or tell you how much time it will take. So if you are travelling with friends, discuss before about a solution if one of you must stay at immigration longer than the others. Most importantly, be patient, I bet you’ll be out of there in no time, without any other info than “it’s the law”.

You also must know that you’re not allowed to use your phone, camera or recording device in the airport.

So, take a deep breath, smile and be nice even if you just spent 4 hours queuing. Oh, and use the bathroom in the plane! (< Best advice ever!)

*sometimes, he will even inform you that you’ve got the same name than his favorite cheese brand before letting you go! Heu, thanks, I guess?


Any question? Remark? Suggestion? Something is missing? Write a comment or contact me directly with the contact form!

7 Responses

  1. Super tes bons plans 🙂
    Pour le logement, nous en avons testé plusieurs.
    Près de colombus circle, nous avons testé l’hôtel Hudson désigné par Starck. Nous avions adoré, mais heureusement que nous avions eu un surclassement (je ne sais pas pourquoi d’ailleurs) car les chambres sont très petites et il ne faut pas hésiter à demander à changer de chambre si trop de bruit (nous en avions eu une donnant sur d’énormes condenseurs donc un peu l’horreur).
    On a testé il y a trèèèès longtemps, l’hôtel 17 et l’americana inn, qui sont a priori toujours de bons rapport qualité prix.
    Nous avons bien aimé les apparts via air bnb.
    Et sinon, je veux bien que tu nous racontes ton histoire de passeport et si ca a des conséquences pour ta vie aux US. C’est dingue ce truc….

    1. Merci pour ton commentaire! C’est effectivement des problèmes qu’on me rapporte souvent: la taille mais aussi le bruit, car entre les gens qui ne sont pas habitués, les fenêtrs mal isolées ou qui donnent sur des trucs hyper louches (comme tu le racontes!), c’est parfois difficile de trouver le sommeil! Belle journée, Emilie!

      Amy

  2. Je découvre ton chouette blog ! Ben dis donc, je suis bien contente de t’avoir croisée sur Insta! Je suis fan de déco, de food et de New York (et des voyages en général) !! Je vais me lire tous tes articles durant mes pauses au boulot!
    Je fais mon deuxième séjour à NY en octobre prochain avec deux copines, pour Halloween, on a trop hâte et on est surexcitée!!! Le premier était en novembre 2014 pour mon voyage de noces, et nous avions fêté Thanksgiving avec la famille de notre Air BNB, c’était génial.
    J’espère que les couleurs de l’automne seront encore au RDV mais qu’il fera assez doux encore pour mon prochain séjour.
    En tous cas, je note bien toutes tes adresses! merci Amy!

  3. Hello Amy !

    Très chouette blog, dommage que je le découvre un peu tard, j’étais à New York fin mars, c’est ballot … ce sera pour une autre fois !
    J’ai atterri à Newark, j’ai pris un shuttle et un train direction Manhattan, je dirais 1 h à tout casser, ça ne m’a paru ni loin ni compliqué ! Peu d’attente à l’immigration (j’ai atterri à 20h un jeudi), j’ai peut être été chanceuse … mais cet aéroport ne mérite pas d’être dédaigné (surtout si tu économises 40% !).
    J’ai logé à Brooklyn avec ma famille dans un appartement Airbnb parce que c’était beaucoup moins cher qu’à Manhattan, quartier de Bushwick. Aucun souci niveau sécurité, l’appart était dans une rue calme, heureusement, car pas d’isolation ! Et très bonne connexion en métro direct avec Lower Manhattan et Midtown. Punaise, rien que d’en parler, j’ai envie d’y retourner !!!

    1. Mince, garde-le sous le coude pour une prochaine fois! J’avoue que niveau immigration, Newark c’est la fête (quoique j’ai eu attendu 40 minutes à JFK, c’est vraiment au coup de bol il me semble!) Et puis niveau logement, j’adore Brooklyn, c’est top, mais c’est vrai que si tu cherches l’expérience bling bling à l’Américaine, rien ne vaut Manhattan, à mon avis! 😉 Je comprends ton envie d’y revenir, la première fois que je l’ai quittée, ça m’a brisé le cœur, je voulais juste y retourner! Merci de ton passage et à bientôt!
      Amy

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